Feature Request: Intuitiveness, workflow

Hey all,

I don’t know how others are finding this - I’ve set a few things now in Dorico, and it does look beautiful, and have some great features that I’ve found very useful. The concept and general workflow is perfect for composition and wonderfully flexible.

However at the moment I’m finding input to be a little too clunky, and the popover system, while powerful in implication, is just a little bit too unintuitive (popup suggestions do help)

Given that we’ve had our lot for updates before we have to shell out again (how much? when?) I’d just thought I’d register that one of the things that defined Sibelius’s popularity in the early days was how easy and quick it was to use the numeric keypad to input classes of notes.

It may be that I’ve not hit my stride yet, and it would be good to have a guide to quick input in Dorico, but apart from that, It would be good if the team could focus a bit on making the user interface more intuitive. I’d like to be able to find things without having to resort to the user forum. I’m glad I don’t need a numeric keypad anymore (as I don’t have one on my laptop) but my feeling is there needs to be a replacement that is just as visually compelling and useful.

It’s just my opinion, but trying to remember modifier keys for everything is also not easy, and not helpful. I can remember shift+key = popover. shift+option+key and you’ve lost me. It’s uncomfortable on the keyboard, and impossible to remember what’s what without a visual guide.

More shortcuts for common tasks would be handy too. I note that S still makes a slur, but I grieve for H and shift-H.

I’m interested to know whether this is going to be considered in future updates?


p.s. also small feature request - large time signatures above the stave. In fact fully customisable positions would be great - would be great to put a time signiature in the (vertical) middle of a bunch of staves for e.g.

Is < for a crescendo and > for a diminuendo much harder to remember than H and Shift+H?

Dorico is equivalent to Sibelius in terms of the number of keystrokes required to choose a note value, add an articulation or accidental, and specify a pitch. It just uses different keys. Perhaps you’re still using both Dorico and Sibelius a lot, in which case I can imagine that you have to exercise your memory more when moving back and forth between the two programs (despite my intimate knowledge of Sibelius going back nearly two decades, I can no longer use it because I have become completely wired for Dorico).

I don’t mean to dismiss your concerns, but really I think when you say “intuitive” what you mean is “the same as Sibelius”, and we assuredly have no plans in that direction.

Hi Dan,

On your first point - if you can just press those keys for a cresc/dim, then touché - I had thought until now that you have to press shift-d first.

On your last - that is entirely not what i’m talking about. Perhaps I shouldn’t have used Sibelius as an example. I do use sibelius a lot (I have to) so perhaps I am not as hard wired into Dorico as I could be (I can’t be at present). However, I feel I must have touched a chord for you to have dismissed my feedback so roundly, for which I apologise.

My feeling, whether you like it or not, is that there need to be more visual cues, and some of the paradigms maybe need to be a bit more obvious. The fact that q = crotchet in shift-T is confusing (quarter note right?). I don’t know which of the numbers = which of the notes. Maybe one day I will, but for now I will have to tap wildly away until the right duration is selected. I can’t remember all the popover shortcuts, and am a long way from guessing at what does what in which. My point stands about modifier keys, but maybe that’s just my poor memory. Let’s hope nobody else has a poor memory. The fact that you can pop over for a tuplet, and the subsequent persistence of the tuplet toggle on the left pane is confusing, and can behave strangely if you click it again, unexpectedly nestling tuplets. Shift-option-arrow is an annoyingly slow way to move something up an octave mid note-input.

That having been said - I totally dig most of Dorico and how it works. It is a refreshing change. None of the above ultimately flummoxes me, and I am a super-nerd which helps me deal with any of these problems in the end (I have been known to just export to pdf and monkey with it until it’s how I want in the past). There are much less nerdy people than me amongst your market though, and i spend most of the time trying to teach them how to do basic things in software like this, and they need all the help they can get…



Though it’s fractionally out of date I thoroughly recommend you download (and possibly even print out) the Popovers reference guide here: https://steinberg.help/dorico/v1/extra/dorico-popovers.pdf

As to rhythmic values, the shift-T letters relate to the American terms.

W(hole) = Semibreve
H(alf) = Minim
Quarter = Crotchet

Rhythmic values are logical: If you can remember that 4=semiquaver (16th note - there are FOUR of them in a crotchet/quarter note) and as the numbers get higher the notes get longer.

Your concerns may be valid but your request is a little unspecific. Which improvements do you specifically have in mind, i. e. what would you need to have it more intuitive? Are you thinking of some kind of context help? Like context click and choose a “Help” option to get some suggestions for a specific item?

I take it that Dorico is a tool for power users that are usually familiar with the keyboard shortcuts they need. Besides that, I suppose ou could modify the keyboard shortcuts to your specific way of thinking.

Thank you Leo, that is helpful, although it is not new information to me - I downloaded that file when it was released. I was brought up in the UK sadly. I know what a whole and a half etc is but it is not intuitive to me - I have to abstract the process. Not a barrier, but not easy. Like reading in an unusual clef, or sight transposing - you have to train your brain away from your instincts, which is why i’m Saying it needs to be more intuitive (read instinctive, easy)

I’m also in the UK and used to dealing with hemidemisemiquavers through to breves (as are the Dorico development team) but globally we’re the minority!

Possibly more helpful is the fact the rhythmic numbers work just fine in the Shift-T popover.

Type 6=120 and you’ll get crotchet=120

Yes, this is (for what it’s worth) also the same in Sibelius – the word menu shortcuts for crotchet, quaver etc. are q and e in Opus Text – so this at least should be somewhat familiar. We now have an auto-completer for the tempo popover to try to make this a bit more obvious for everybody, but it’s true that it doesn’t provide an easy way of seeing which tempo units you can use. The forthcoming release will make it possible to retrospectively change the beat unit of a tempo using a graphical control in the Properties panel, which will also somewhat obviate the need to remember the numbers and/or letters.

Well, you presumably managed it for Sibelius, so I have faith that you’ll manage it for Dorico too. If you hover over the buttons in the notes panel it will also show you the shortcuts there.

I really think these are pretty easy to remember, and very similar to the Ctrl+letter shortcuts in Sibelius for things like technique, expression, rehearsal marks etc., and you simply need to put in a bit more time to learn them. The ones that are perhaps a bit hard to remember are Shift+A for rehearsal mark (the first rehearsal mark is typically “A”, which is why we chose it) and perhaps Shift+M for meter (because you might think of T for time signature). But we have a good and consistent pattern for creating non-note things: Shift plus a letter.

This is certainly fair, because the behaviour of the tuplet button in the toolbox is not clear. The original idea here (and for the grace note and rhythm dot buttons) is to have the buttons themselves pop out little menus when you click them, so that more of the choices are surfaced when using the mouse, and I hope we will be able to finish this aspect off soon.

Really? It’s slower than Ctrl+up arrow was in Sibelius? I think it takes exactly the same amount of time to type. Also, you can use the keys to pre-select the octave at the time you input the notes to avoid having to use this, which I personally find very useful.

Oh, and Edd, if you send me a private message with your postal address, I’ll send you some stickers for your keyboard that will help you to remember the most important shortcuts. Even if you choose not to stick them on but just keep them to hand I think you’ll find them useful.

I don’t want to sound rude but I think most of the concerns here are not about intuitiveness (if its a word!) but more about getting the right habits and reflex. i.e. learning the software in case properly.
I still use Sibelius quite a lot because the school didn’t switch yet, and I can say my intuition is more Dorico oriented and reflexes are very easy to get.
There’s a single habit that I still have a hard time to get: NOT trying to add anything while under Engrave mode.
At home no problem because my shortcuts are well customised but at school it’s another thing…

stickers on my keyboard? shudder

You shouldn’t need to send me stickers, much though I appreciate the gesture, and I should say your customer service is second to none, and always has been.

Here’s what might e.g. make it more intuitive (in my mind):

  1. when you hold the shift key down, letters could appear over their relative symbols to signify which to press to get the right popover.

  2. You could have a search function which points you to the right function, complete with hotkeys listed so that in time you can visually learn the system. If this was summoned by keyboard (like MacOS’s Spotlight feature) that would be amazing. The less I have to use the mouse, the better. If I can find everything I want via the keyboard, even stuff I don’t know the hotkey for, that would be a game changer.

  3. you have the option to change the rhythm paradigm depending on your localisation

With respect, CMD+arrow is two key strokes, SHIFT+OPTION+Arrow is three, and on my MacBook Pro 13" (2017), it’s a really awkward combination that for any speed requires two hands. I know that’s uselessly specific but there we go. Having to use two hands makes using a midi keyboard awkward.

Aside from that, if the commands that you see on screen related more to the layout of the input being used, that would also help with visual cues, but I suspect that may be too Sibelius for you. e.g. the rhythmic values are laid out vertically and in two columns, but summoned horizontally on the keyboard in one column, which means that the two don’t visually relate.

While we’re there - why is tuplet just ; and not shift+;?

Even if you could work for a while in “tutorial mode” which had overlaid text etc. but that you could then turn off later that might help…

; turns on tuplet entry and Shift-; turns OFF tuplet entry. It’s the only popover that’s sticky and needs a shortcut to turn the stickiness off.

The tuplet shortcut is ; for the same reason that slur is S: so that you can use Shift+; to stop the tuplet, in the same way that Shift+S stops a slur.

Ok, that makes sense, although it is a little counter-intuitive given the shift+key popover paradigm. It could be the other way round surely?

It could indeed. There’s a Keyboard Shortcuts section in the Preferences. Help yourself!

I asked several months ago for some documentation on the keystroke philosophy, and have seen other threads asking similar questions. Knowing why makes it easier to remember. But there’s been no real feedback on this sort of documentation.

For example, what is the philosophy of the Alt key, Shift key, Cntl key, and combinations thereof? It seems like this philosophy would have been discussed for many hours by the design team, so is it documented?

The alternative is to try to figure out the pattern, but my brain is full of music, not noticing keystroke patterns! (Yes, it takes me a while to learn piano keystroke patterns too… separate subject though!)

Dorico blows away Finale 25, which I found buggy, confusing and illogical. So far, Dorico has been bug free for me, and a joy to use – but I have to relearn things a lot because of my memory lapses. It’s all about “why”!

I’m trying to bring Dorico in my school but I’m doing it slowly because I know the hard part is not convincing new users but to make collegues learn a new
soft shortely before their retirement…I, myself, leaning forward retirement faster than I wish but still, I dig in learning a good engraving soft so I will spend my retired years working on something that works as I want! *

*this post was not paid by the Steinberg team! :smiley:

If you want you can also change that shortcut to something else. It’s under “note edit” in the key commands section of the preferences.
By the way, why would you need to use that shortcut together with using a midi keyboard?

Not all midi keyboards support multiple octaves, and if you make a mistake it’s much easier to correct it than to delete and re-input it.