Graphics Export Ideas for future versions

Daniel and Team (along with other Dorico users),

While Dorico has a pretty strong page layout engine (and would be good for doing publishing projects), many publishers still use Adobe Indesign (or something comparable), or are using electronic publishing means (i.e., iBooks and Kindle is what I am referencing here). As such, I would like to see some improvements in the way Dorico exports graphics to help facilitate the use of any and all publishing means. I understand that this is “back-burner” stuff, but it would be nice.

To begin with, I am currently in the middle of working on a percussion book for a friend that is being backed by a major publisher. I am having to use F***** (a competitors software) for the music notation aspect. I have had nothing but head aches and frustration. Not only from the Engraving aspect itself, but from exporting the examples as graphics as well. Here is the process necessary with my current setup after the music is entered:

  1. Format the system to be the appropriate size (width).
  2. Add a “rehearsal mark” for the numbering/lettering of examples in the book.
    These previous 2 steps not too complicated or frustrating… until here:
  3. Select the graphics tool, and double click and drag a “selection” box to include the musical example.

*** Enter frustration/Angry/etc. ***
The graphics tool is fidgety… If I accidentally click anywhere on the page outside of the selection box, the selection box disappears. Secondly, it is possible when dragging the initial box that I draw the box a little too close to the the edge of the rehearsal mark. As such, when exporting the graphic part of the rehearsal mark may not make it in the final graphic. I have accidentally drawn the box a touch too short (as I have to drag a 2 way box around example and struggle to get the end of the selection box where it needs to be to avoid from getting a lot of empty space in the graphic), and the beams of 8th notes get clipped and are about half the width they should be. The whole aspect of taking time to draw this selection box means that it can take a minute or 2 to export a single 2 measure excerpt. When dealing with a book that has 100+ musical examples, that can be quite a lot of time wasted to just export graphics. This selection box idea, while great in the mid to late 1990s, is a little frustrating to use and wastes so much time trying to draw selection boxes correctly.

What I would like to see in the future from Dorico is a much easier and simpler way to export music examples. I would like to see a tool that is not fidgety. One that won’t simply disappear because I clicked somewhere else on the page of music. One where I do not need to draw a box and have the issues associated with doing so. Maybe something along the lines of formatting the music into music frames appropriately, then if I want to export the music in the music frame, I click a tool, right click, etc., and hit export as graphic (with transparency). And at this stage Dorico automatically creates a graphic that has little to no excess room around the musical example and all I need to do is name the graphic.

I have a video of the current frustrating method that I have to currently use. If you want to see it, I can post a link. Other than that, I am just putting a feature request for the next version (2.0 or even later).


When I have needed to do graphics export, I usually go a different way:

  • If all the examples are similar sizes, set up a (small) page size and create one example per page.
  • Export complete pages from the notation program. That gives files where the size of the notation is consistent, whatever else gets changed!
  • Load them into a graphics editing program, chop up a page into separate examples (if necessary) and/or autocrop them, then set the exact size required with the cropped image in the center (again, if necessary)
  • import into the final document.

There are plenty of very good free graphics editors, at least for Windows - I usually use GIMP for bit-maps, and Inkscape for vector graphics.

This may sound like “more steps,” but doing five things quickly and reliably can be quicker than doing one thing with fragile software!

(Of course this isn’t an alternative to improving Dorico!)

It has been a long time since I have used InDesign, but it seems to me that one should be able to trim a graphic with additional white space around it within InDesign itself.

But, as I said, it has been along time.

You might be correct Derrek. I am with you, it has been years since I have used Indesign, and to be honest, now for what little I do, I use PAGES on my Mac. It’s enough for me to get by with the basic things I do.

I will say that I am thinking about doing my own books possibly in iBook Author, and having consistent graphics that are easy to export would be very helpful for that.

@Rob Tuley - I like what you wrote. Consistent sizes are occasionally something that I struggle with under the current method I use.


Another option, since you are on mac, is to input all of your examples and simply export a PDF. You can then open that PDF in preview and use the rectangular selection tool (I know, not your favorite) but it is more forgiving as you can adjust the selection after the fact to get it exactly how you want it. If you have all of your examples in one PDF file you could be more consistent with your selection process.

I appreciate the response. That might be something I move to in the future. I would only hope that Dorico could create a much easier/simpler way, removing the multitude of steps involved.


It depends on the format of the book, but if (when?) Dorico can flow text between frames as well as music, it’s possible the whole document could be done in Dorico, except for a final step to convert the PDF output to a different ebook format.

What an interesting thought. It had occurred to me that with the ability to insert pages and add text frames you could nearly create an entire hymnal a la InDesign (in terms of workflow) in Dorico already. The singular catch is the text flowing. I’m guessing that wont happen because the text is not its own “flow” like the music is. That said, if you have it planned out, you could still accomplish your goals, it would just have to be manual.

Text “flows” in most word processors! It depends whether you think of a “Dorico project” as “music interleaved with bits of text”, or “text interleaved with bits of music”.

A hymnal is a special case, because each item of text and music is fairly short and self-contained, so it doesn’t need much automation of the “flows”. But there are books where the format is essentially “continuous text that flows from page to page, plus hundreds of music examples.”

I’ll also throw this point into the mix as well…

As I am trying to create a percussion/music book of my own, I’d like it to be in an e-format. I have messed around with iBooks Author (Mac - iBooks stuff), and it is very cool so far. But, if I plan to use the iBooks format where the book will be consistent from iPhone to iPad to Mac, I have to use their templates. If I use the “e-pub” format, when you switch from device to device, there is no guarantee that it will look the same. That is where graphics export would a huge benefit. I agree that when Dorico is better equipped at handling text it will be very easy to create to book, etc. However, going to different formats will still require the exporting of graphics.