Feature request: Alt+drag in write mode

Hi, I am requesting a feature that allows for dragging items around in write mode, just as in engrave mode. This is to circumvent the need to switch back and forth between modes if the changes needed are minor and frequent. I believe Alt + drag in write mode is not currently assigned to anything, so that might be a good command.

I’m just a lowly user, but I would bet the farm this won’t happen. Daniel and team have been pretty firm on their philosophy of separate modes, and the strict avoidance of being able to move items in Write mode.

Also, this is a current limitation of Elements, which doesn’t have Engrave mode.

In Write mode, moving something changes the content of the score (the pitch of a note, the attachment point of a dynamic mark, etc).

In Engrave mode, moving something only affects the appearance (the shape of a slur, etc).

I think mixing up those two ideas would break the basic design of the whole of Dorico.

Switching between modes is only one key press in any case.

Certainly everyone would benefit from such an implementation. Switching might be one push of two keys away, but you have to switch back every time. Certainly, it is faster to be able to just select it with alt and drag.

I believe Dorico elements allows to nudge things over graphically with alt (or alt + ctrl?) with an arrow key, but not with the precision of engrave mode. So the Dorico team has already implemented such a feature, I am merely asking to expand it.

I also don’t see how this breaks the design of Dorico to allow a time-saving exception to the this rule. There already exists exceptions to the seperation of writing and engraving in Dorico. The properties panel in write mode allows to change the display of things without affecting the semantics, and that doesn’t break the design, why does this break the design?

No, Dorico Elements doesn’t provide anything different to Dorico Pro. When you drag an item in Write mode, it moves it rhythmically, and that’s the same in both Elements and Pro. Properties that appear in Write mode tend not to be ones that correspond to graphical edits in Engrave mode; they are intended to be higher-level, semantic rather than purely graphical edits (though of course it’s a bit of a grey area).

To be frank, I wouldn’t expect this to change any time soon. I would never say never, but I can say that it is not something we will be rushing to implement. Nevertheless, a smooth and fluid workflow is obviously something we are always striving for, so I am open to all possibilities. Alt+click-drag in Write mode, however, wouldn’t be the way we would choose to do it (that combination could be very useful for edits that actually change the musical content, so we wouldn’t “waste” it on something that is already possible in Engrave mode).

As I said to Rob Tuley, I believe Dorico elements allows to nudge things over graphically with alt (or alt + ctrl?) with an arrow key, but not with the precision of engrave mode. So there is already a precedent for this in Dorico. In any case, I am not suggesting to merge write and play mode, I am merely suggesting that slight graphical changes be allowed in write mode in the pro version. They already are allowed in elements and SE, but of course, the pro version should make them more permissive than the lower-tier versions of the program.

Fair enough, does the team have any plans to make a smoother way of just slightly nudging things over in the process of writing? My concern is that I sometimes have to switch modes several times in the span of a few seconds, and that just seams to break-up my workflow more than simply dragging things around would.

I think the point at hand is understanding the process. When you’re “writing,” the intention is not to nudge and arrange things. Just write. Moving things is for semantic reasons: placing the dynamic at a different rhythmic position, for example. If you’re writing, the intention is to wait until a later step to make small visual adjustments. Or there are other solutions: for example, rather than dragging a dynamic to align it to a hairpin, select then both and group them.

For that reason, I rarely need to switch modes while writing. I admit there are a few scenarios that require more switching, like creating and deleting system breaks. But even that isn’t really part of the writing process. It’s layout.

It sounds like I‘m telling you how to do your creative process, which I could understand wouldn’t be very welcome. But I’m just trying to explain how Dorico is designed to function between modes.

I believe that Dorico is telling users how to do their creative process. The total separation of writing and engraving might be okay if you only are presenting your project once, but if you are bringing it in as a work in progress in composition lessons, arranging or orchestration classes, workshops etc. it becomes a hassle to have to often switch modes to make small cosmetic changes, especially when you might be in a rush to meet that week’s assignment.

In any case, many people have made such propositions before and I am sure that I will not be the last

It’s generally the case that if you find yourself frequently moving items to make them presentable, it’s usually something that (a) can be accomplished in Write mode, or (b) can be adjusted via global settings.

I’ve trained quite a number of students who were preparing scores for upcoming lessons. The separation of modes never presented a problem. Again, the small changes that need to be made generally came after the notes had been written.

Can you give an example of something you find yourself needing to frequently switch modes to adjust?

That’s a good question Dan, I should make a list of the different circumstances which require me to move things around. The general problem for me is that although I set what I want in the defaults, I often make exceptions for them.

At the present moment for example, I am still having a problem with Dorico refusing to have things like “P>” on short note values. What usually happens is that one item will cover the other, and this bug is outstanding from 3.5. It would save me a lot of time if I could just slightly nudge an item visually to the left. If I were to actually just put it on the following note/rest, it looks wacky in the part. Sometimes unlinking the dynamics, I find, fixes this problem, but it creates its own problem, which is that dynamics that I would like to be linked become unlinked. Dorico ought to just add more space in order to display all the information, rather than just allowing things to get covered up for lack of space.

There are more such problems which I can’t think of at the moment, but if they pop up I’ll be sure to mention them here.

The P> situation is something the Team is already looking at, so there will eventually be a solution to this that doesn’t require you to drag things around in Write mode.

Sami: I agree with you about the dynamics. I have the same problem with “hairpin minimum length.” I do think it’s a current limitation, one that should be handled properly, rather than changing the UX at the fundamental level.

Personally, I’ve turned off linked dynamics. I find the feature is more difficulty than help, at least for my workflow. I’m much more likely to set one dynamic and use “Duplicate to Staff Below.”

Yes, but I was just using that as an example of something that you need to fix as you are writing down a piece. You cannot wait for the project to be completed to fix this sort of thing, especially if you need to show your work as it is in progress. In this case, not allowing for slight control of the way things appear in write mode is clearly a disadvantage. It breaks people’s flow to have to switch modes when you have a piece that has many such examples. And again, that is not to make engrave mode redundant. I just think that there should be enough control in write mode so as to at least allow the music to look right semantically. At the moment, the rule is strictly that only writing is permitted, even if you cannot get the music to look right semantically.

Please provide some of the other examples you’re encountering, Sami. Your example of having to fix something that Dorico should do automatically but doesn’t due to a problem in the dynamics spacing code isn’t at all persuasive.