Finding "Condensing" in Online Help - when you don't know the word

Well, the title says it…

Recently I was looking for some help around condensing of players - but I couldn’t remember that the term I was searching for was “condensing”. Well, using the search box was not an option for me.
I had some foggy recollection that it hat something to do with layouts, so that was the general topic I was looking for in the help pages.

But I had no luck:

  • The first menu item that got my attention was “Dorico concepts > Layouts in Dorico”, because the way Dorico handles condensing of players could well be a “concept” - but it was not.
  • The next item in the menu I visited was “Setup mode > Players, layouts and flows” - maybe I would find the topic here? No luck either.
  • “Setup mode > Layouts” also had nothing for me. And while the list of “Related links” is really long, no “Condensing players” item there.
  • All other menu items under “Setup mode” didn’t sound as if they had anything to do with condensing either.
  • And even the help page of “Library > Layout options” - the very page that holds the checkbox to activate condansing - does not mention it in any way, shape, or form.

Since I now know the term and have used the search box, I have found the page that’s called “Condensing” which explains everything around the whole topic. But then again, when searching for “condensing”, the page called “Condensing” is only the 7th entry down the list, only just on the first page.

Maybe some links to that page would be fine at certain other pages :slight_smile:

This is really useful, thank you for sharing this. I agree some of those could benefit from links to condensing, particularly the couple that do make a passing reference to condensing.

The page for Layout Options doesn’t call out condensing specifically, that’s true, as it could otherwise very easily end up as just a big list of options in the dialog, without context.

One thing I have been considering is whether the introductory “Concepts” chapter would work better if it were entirely separate from the manual, as those topics are useful and are intended to work as a “read-through chapter” but have some sizeable overlaps with information elsewhere, and with their similar titles do risk adding another search-step like you’ve pointed out here.

(As it happens, your first instinct was close as the concepts topic for Players in Dorico has a link to condensing as well as other related functions like divisi and instrument changes.)

What would also be good to know is, apart from looking for topics relating to layouts, how would you have described condensing without using that word?

Hi, Lillie!

(It’s such a great expericne to get responses from the whole team at such a time of day - very appreciated!)

That’s a good question - one that I have asked myself during the process: “What would they call it? What should I be looking out for?”
(And me not being an English native speaker I would not even try to come up with some answer :laughing: )
For me it was a wee bit easier because I knew that once I would see the word, I would recognize it.
For someone who doesn’t know it at all, I believe the “Concepts” section would probably be one of the first places to go to.

1 Like

Required introductory reading, definitely. But I think it is better where it is, because:

  • If it were elsewhere it would be easier for new users to miss
  • The repetition is actually helpful. The same info in a different context reinforces.

Really, whatever you would honestly describe this as in your own words would be interesting to know – no answer is wrong here. I’ve added phrases in more conversational tones as keywords, like “make bars fill page” for the horizontal justification of final systems, as that’s how I’ve seen users describe it.

I’d like to add one little thing: I would really love to see the help pages for those dialogues be more helpful. While something like the Engrave Options dialog is one of the Big Beasts of Dorico, its help page is the total opposite. I would either, from a user’s perspective, expect an equally long list of all the options with their explanations, or a (shorter) list of topics covered in this dialog together with links to the sections in the manual.

I’d probably go for something like “pulling staves together” or “reducing music onto fewer staves”. (The last one is already used for special copy & paste, I know.)

1 Like

I appreciate the thought, but we made a conscious decision not to write Dorico’s documentation in this way. The hope is that the names of options, their accompanying pictures, and in some cases additional paragraph of explanation within the dialog is sufficient to clarify what they do. Instead, our manual focuses on giving you contextual information and sets of steps for achieving particular outcomes (the benefit of these over a list of options being it clarifies what contexts you can do this in, what you need to select first etc).

Where particular options are likely to be looked for or wanted, I do pop in tasks that take users to them – like for changing the gap before codas.

And additionally, during authoring for v4, I have added in lots more precise indexterms and keywords that relate to individual options for particular notations on their relevant “Project-wide options for X” page that in turn points you towards Engraving Options. So for instance, if you now search “omit5” you should get this page as a search result.

1 Like

Condensing has an index entry “reducing > see also condensing”, resulting in the Condensing concept being the second result when you search “reducing”.

I see what you’re saying - and of course this is a decision that need’s to be made one way or the other. :slight_smile:

“Combining players” brings up Condensing as an option.

Dont be too hard on yourself. I, as a native English speaker, frequently have the same problem.

I agree with that suggestion, as a lot of the first chapter introduces basic musical concepts that many are already familiar with.