How mouse friendly is Dorico?

I think it’s great that it’s possible to use Dorico without a mouse. But I so no reason not to use it. Is there any philosophy behind the Dorico development about trying to get users to use key commands etc instead of mouse movements? I remember being frustrated with Sibelius because one couldn’t just grab a note and move it - but how is Dorico doing? Are there any limitations which I should be aware of before purchasing it?

A trial version will be available soon, before the end of November (I think, and hear).

As far as being Mouse friendly, you CAN input notes directly onto the stave with mouse clicks… there’s a little notehead icon which previews where the placement will be.

BUT, clicking on and dragging notes around… I don’t think this is currently possible. And I’m not sure if there are any plans on extending this type of editing into the workflow.

If I had to guess I’d say this probably won’t be available… as things stand now you have to hold down the ‘alt’ key in order to change pitch, and thats a built in requirement to keep edits from accidentally happening.

Dorico also uses a ‘Write’ and an ‘Engrave’ mode as two separate workspaces to keep accidental changes from occurring… be it input overwriting engrave decisions, or engrave overwriting note input choices. So that alone is a fair amount of evidence towards a somewhat protective environment here.

I am really hoping the requirement to hold ALT/Option to move notes will be relaxed, or made optional in Preferences. My note input speed is greatly reduced having to hold ALT/Option because I use “R” to repeat a last note and then arrow keys to move it around. Having to hold ALT/Option means I’m holding it down hundreds of times while composing, whereas with just the arrow keys it’s a LOT quicker!

Suggestion to the team: make holding ALT/Option, optional, for editing notes. Daniel I know you said it’s to prevent “accidental edits” but I’ve produced many scores on (sib) and never had a problem with that. I tried assigning my own key command to do this but can’t seem to get it to work.



Or at least change the left hand side Alt key for the right hand side Alt Gr key. That one I can hit with my right hand thumb while playing the arrows with my right hand fingers. Result: I need only one hand for the pitch edit instead of two with the current set up.
Input with R and arrows is also one of my favourites.

I’m also used to moving things without holding Alt, and the Mac standard is that just grabbing something and moving it moves, doing the same thing with Alt copies it. And like you, I don’t have a problem with accidental edits, so if the current behaviour shall remain the default, I hope there will be a preference setting to get the Mac standard way of doing it.
I have wasted an embarrassingly high amount of hours (read: years!) in Logic forums, and I can’t remember having seen anyone complain about accidentally moving notes because a modifier isn’t required.

ETA - or are you not talking about using the mouse (with or without alt) here?

Oh boy. If Dorico will never allow mouse editing, there will be no Dorico for me. Actually, I have feared for a while that a certain work-style would be forced upon the user of Dorico, and this will be the show-stopper for me.

This fear of “accidental edits”. I never heard of such a thing until this blog. If you make a mistake, you simply correct it. And how rarely this occurs. Worrying about making mistakes shouldn’t dictate a whole work-style. It sounds like someone’s personal issue is taking shape as a work-style for everyone.

Now my hope is that Dorico will force Finale’s hand so that needed enhancements will occur on that side. ’

What a shame, I had seen such promise in this program. But I will not have my work-style dictated to by a program. I am the boss, not the program.

I personally welcome the modifier key for moving notes, as it keeps keyboard operations consistent - arrows to navigate, shift and arrows to grow selections, alt and arrows to move things. If you’re just linearly inputting notes, maybe it gets tedious, but when moving around and making edits all over (eg composing), I like the security of knowing arrows on their own are purely navigational.


Sometimes what makes sense “logically” also doesn’t make sense operationally. I get what you’re saying, though.

It should be an option, then to each his own, n’est pas?

That Sib-style repeat and arrow procedure was what came most natural for me in the beginning. I have never felt that a lot of errors occured because of that. It would be absolutely fab to be able to have acess to that functionality within Key Commands.

Until that option is implemented, I have added ‘alt’ + ‘R’ to the repeat function in Key Commands. By doing that, I can just leave my left thumb on the alt-key and sort of just forget about it there when repeating notes and moving them with the arrow keys, as you described.

Hey what a clever idea! Thanks for the tip!

Still would love not to have to use ALT/Option at all, however.

Personally I much prefer Dorico to be centered around keyboard input as opposed to using the mouse. I find it much more efficient, precise and comfortable, especially when stuck with a laptop and trackpad.

Likewise, I can understand your disappointment from a personal point of view, but I don’t think you can expect a new application to cater precisely to everyone’s workflow. Sibelius is also much more keyboard-centric than Finale, so it isn’t surprising that Dorico would carry on this tradition.

The way a program works is a main reason why it’s good to have more than one contender on the market, and with this in mind, I can certainly see how Finale would be much better suited to compete with Dorico than Sibelius would.

Minimizing the potential for unintended edits and mistakes is part of any good UI design, so I can understand why they would give this some consideration in general. However, the necessity to press a modifier key for such a basic function feels more like a universal access feature than anything else. It’s easy enough to get used to on a laptop, but not so much when working on a full sized keyboard. Neither Finale nor Sibelius functions this way, and one would expect that many users migrating from either one would be proficient in manipulating pitches without the need for such training wheels.

What I find most disappointing, though, is that this is implemented as a mandatory function, even though there doesn’t appear to be any conflicting functionality allocated to the arrow keys. I tried modifying the shortcut to disregard the option key, but presently this would only be possible by using an external macro program (or perhaps a script within Dorico). Hopefully this will be an optional behavior in due course. I certainly have no use (or time) for it.

Very well-stated!

But is there really a conflict between having good support for keyboard input and allow all input and all edits to be performed with a mouse?

I don’t have Dorico yet, but I think it already allows mouse editing. The question (for me) is: what is it, if anything, that can’t be done with a mouse? I often prefer using a mouse, for instance when I move a note. One reason for that is that of course not all the movements I want to make are fitting in with the current nudge value; maybe I want to move a note 1 beat and a 1/16th note, and I prefer not to have to remember various key commands needed for 1/8-note movements, 1/16-note movements, and so on.

I think Dorico (almost) does that already. The problems that the mouse-oriented users are having seem to be about figuring out exactly how the mouse input works, not trying to do something that’s impossible.

But as a long-time computer user, I find it a bit sad that some people seem happy to use the mouse to do things slowly, when if they only took a bit of time to learn, they could do them much quicker and easier. “Mouse input” is 50-year-old user interface technology by now, but it has never succeeded in making keyboards obsolete in those 50 years.

If you really don’t want to use a keyboard for music entry, using an app like Staffpad on a tablet would seem much easier than pushing a rodent around your desk and clicking buttons, or fighting with a laptop trackpad.

Just to be clear, I use the mouse a lot in Dorico, but for what it’s good at doing - selecting things, popping up context-sensitive menus, etc - but not for entering a lot of data (i.e. notes). Why aim the mouse carefully at the right spot on the stave and click a button, then repeat that twice more, when you enter the same three notes just by typing “ABC”?

Rodent :slight_smile:
Well, we are talking about at least three different topics here, I guess…
input vs all other edits
if there’s always one solution (eg mouse or keyboard entry/edits)
whether an app should make (and can afford to) any decision om behalf of it’s users

I use a lot of key commands both when working with music and doing other stuff, and is quite fast at it. But some stuff is simply done more efficiently with a mouse. If I look at a piano track on a large screen and want to try how it would be to mute a chord in the upper left corner of the screen, I can go there in a split second with the mouse and lasso all the relevant notes to select them. And this kind of stuff: …and much more.

So I simply want to have a choice, and know of several people who wouldn’t go for score editor if it has unnecessary limitations in terms of what can be done with the mouse. So when you write “The problems that the mouse-oriented users are having seem to be about figuring out exactly how the mouse input”, I get the feeling that there either are limitations or that the mouse based workflow isn’t… obvious enough.

And don’t forget that there are many composers who have gotten used to a mouse based workflow for 20-30 years already – maybe they’ll get Dorico and learn that there are keyboard based solutions which are better, but OTOH: if they can’t start out using a mouse, but they won’t even try Dorico out. IMO, if an app has a good, mouse based workflow (in addition to keyboard based ways of doing things), one shouldn’t really need to have to figure out how the mouse based solution is meant to work. You should be able to drag whatever you want wherever you want it, and be able to select notes etc bi lassoing them or clicking on one at a time. And even if I - to use the above example - would use a key command to mute a chord in a piano track, I would still prefer to select it with a mouse - instead of having to figure out the quickest way to move to a position 20 bar before the part I’m currently working on, and how to select exactly the chord I want - or the notes in that chord I’d like to mute.

Most of the mouse problems I’ve seen here are to do with note input, not selecting things. (There are some features missing for selecting things in the current version, but that’s beside the point unless you want version 1.0 to be the only version ever released!)

But “dragging whatever you want to wherever you want it” simply isn’t the way Dorico is designed to work for music engraving, with either the keyboard or the mouse. (For playback, it’s probably too early to really say - there are too many things missing from the current version to really know how it will work).

The basic design idea of Dorico is that it “knows” what the notation means, and displays it following a consistent set of rules for your whole score (and if you don’t like the default rules, there are literally hundreds of ways to change them).

For example, most of the time rests aren’t even a “thing” in Dorico. They are just “gaps between notes”, and Dorico puts the appropriate symbols in the score automatically. Unlike some other programs, usually you don’t even “enter a rest” - you just move the cursor to where the next note should go. “Tied notes” are the same - by default, Dorico considers a set of tied notes as a single note (even if it’s some weird number of beats long because it actually starts and ends in the middle of some tuplets) - and again, it splits it up into the appropriate notes and ties automatically.

If you really don’t want a program that does things like that, you probably aren’t going to like Dorico with either a mouse or a keyboard. But you soon get used to the fact that it does most of the “grunt work” for you, unless you try to stop it being helpful!

For example, if you want to enter a string of notes in a dotted rhythm, you can enter them all as the same note value (say 8th-notes), select them all, and press one key to convert them all into dotted-8ths followed by 16ths. But that one key-press isn’t a “special command that creates dotted notes” - it’s just a particular instance of the way Dorico works for every note editing operation. (And you can do the same thing with one mouse click, if you don’t like pressing keys…)

Sure - and some of the reports so far suggests that even in 1.0 the output and interpretation done by Dorico in many ways is better than what Sibelius and Finale has achieved after all these years. I’m sure Dorico ““knows” what the notation means”. And I’m not really worried about how Dorico deals with rests in imported files either.

“If you really don’t want a program that does things like that, you probably aren’t going to like Dorico with either a mouse or a keyboard.” Personally, I’m used to a program where rests isn’t a “thing”. And if the idea for Dorico’s users would be that we should compose in a DAW, and only use Dorico for engraving, everything would be simpler - but many users (and the Dorico team, it seems) want to Dorico to be used for composition as well, which involves many topics not directly related to engraving.

For example, if you want to enter a string of notes in a dotted rhythm, you can enter them all as the same note value (say 8th-notes), select them all, and > press one key > to convert them all into dotted-8ths followed by 16ths. But that one key-press isn’t a “special command that creates dotted notes” - it’s just a particular instance of the way Dorico works for > every > note editing operation. (And you can do the same thing with one mouse click, if you don’t like pressing keys…)

That’s the kind of stuff which really seems great with Dorico. Still - for a number of actions, the mouse/key situation could be an important part of the decision making process for many users. Again - even if if the product designers “seems to dislike mice” (which someone suggested to me outside this forum), I think there are many customers to win if mouse support will be brilliant. If someone don’t want it, the mouse functionality (or parts of it) could always be disabled, even by default.

Logic Pro X is lagging behind in so many ways when it comes to notation/composition, but also has some goodies which Finale and Sibelius doesn’t have… and I’m still optimistic about Dorico’s potential to grow into the next* best possible solution for a lot of score users, with excellent notation, a flexible user interface which will be great for both rodents and humans - and where we can freely choose what kind of workflow we want to use with it.

And while it’s true that the mouse if 50 years old, the pencil is much older and is still useful. :wink:

(* IMO the only ideal solution is to have all needed DAW functionality and all needed score functionality in one single app)

This seems to be going round in circles - so why not just wait you can download a free trial version, and then we can stop re-enacting the old story about the blind men trying to describing an elephant :wink:


Personally I don’t think I have described elephants or anything else, I simply wonder if there’s any truth to the statement that the Dorico team “doesn’t like mice”.