There are many posts on this forum, and the Cubase forum, from users complaining that the program is not ‘intuitive’. Speaking as a user of both, and a software developer of many years myself, these complaints always annoy me, and yet I am not articulate enough to rebut the criticism. Since this matter comes up with clockwork regularity - you can almost time when the next one will come - I thought I would post this link I stumbled across today, from the Ardour DAW forum (similar enough program):

[There is one post on this forum praising Dorico as very intuitive! But then goes on to say the manual indexing is not intuitive! :-)]


That’s an interesting thought. Also been a software engineer for too many decades, and come to think of it I never use the concept of intuitive when it comes to UI design. What I usually think of is “obvious” - is it obvious how to use the software, or this feature or that? If it’s not, how can I make it so? The solution I take most of the time is to just use a UI design that is already common elsewhere in the industry.

For example I work in measurement science in my day job (making stuff that goes in all sorts of weird places including off planet). So often work with signals … and given what I do here, I’ve been using paradigms from DAW’s, in particular Wavelab. I’ll tell my colleagues where the idea came from too - that it’s common in the music industry, bu that doesn’t always stop them from complaining that its not intuitive or whatnot.

Reason being I think - as stated elsewhere here - is that intuitive really just means “what I’m used to”. Given that Dorico has created a new paradigm to scoring software we shouldn’t be surprised that people have this complaint. Doesn’t bother me, slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and all that, because I give Dorico my highest complement which is it is logical. Given the problem of how to conveniently enter notation Dorico takes the most logical approach, which is what you’d hope for if an experienced team gets to re-imagine how to do it.

Otherwise it’s a bunch of useless whining from lazy musicians :smile_cat:


People don’t always express themselves well, and I am sure that the designers of Dorico don’t disregard good input simply because someone uses “unintuitive” for want of a better word.

I would think that a good test of the ease of use of a user interface would be determined by how often the documentation has to be consulted to do simple things, especially since many people learn best by doing something rather than by reading about it.

As a trial user, my impressions of Dorico at this point are that it is very logical given the approach taken but not that easy to use. For example, there are functions that I use often like Beam Together buried under Edit>Notations. Since this didn’t appear as expected in the beaming lower panel, and “Notations” meant nothing to me when I looked through Edit, I had to refer to documentation.

Making this command practical would require creating a keyboard shortcut as suggested in the documentation. Creating keyboard shortcuts in turn requires planning and coordination with the existing built-in shortcuts. None of this is particularly smooth.

Another option to access features that are found inside submenus is to use the jump bar. If you hit J and type “beam” you’ll find Beam Together presented there, along with other handy commands.


I’m not complaining here but just pointing out a few things. How is it logical when the settings for MIDI input are located in the play section of the settings rather than the note input settings? It’s things like that which I find neither intuitive or logical. Another example, if I want to create a new flow from an existing flow what do I search for in the help? Searching for ‘create’ finds nothing. Not very logical. Why is the ability to hide empty staves in the vertical spacing section and not in the Staves & Systems category? Not logical. Why are 8va signs - a technique instruction to a player how to play - found in the clef section rather than in performance techniques? Not logical. Why do I have to enter a decimal equivalent for a pick-up measure? Quick what’s the decimal equivalent of a 1/64 note in 4/4 time? Not intuitive. It’s not that I’m a lazy musician. I want to get things done as quick as possible without having to change my logic to that of the programmers. The examples I mention are trivial but illustrate that not everything is so logical. My biggest gripe is that when I need to find out how to do something that isn’t necessarily a common thing (like creating a new flow from an existing flow) or something I don’t use very often (1st endings came up the other day) I end up spending far too much time trying to figure out “how to…” and often end up having to post in the forums to find an answer. (Maybe a “how to” document culled from the questions on the forum would be an excellent addition to the documentation)? Often the answer to my question suggests that if I had only used a different term in my search I would have found it with no problem. If the program uses different terminology than I’m use to as an experienced musician, that suggests to me that the program is not as intuitive to trained musicians as they would like to think it is (unless the musician in question has been trained the same way as those who wrote the software). With so many different ways to describe things in music and do them, I don’t think any program will ever be logical and intuitive to every user.


In addition to Daniel’s suggestion, these same options can be found on the context (right-click) menu, and as of Dorico 4 that menu really is context-specific; it only shows relevant submenus for the current selection.


It is logical in that hiding empty staves affects the vertical spacing of the entire page, but I agree to your point prima facia. This is why I’ve said before that I think it would be helpful to have a few options duplicated in different panels. This is against the very tightly conceived zeitgeist of the program, but it seems like it could be helpful to duplicate these types of options.

I confess, this one took me a bit of time to wrap my head around. It is not the friendliest way to go about it. (Although, I will be clear: I don’t want to see it go away, but rather to see some easier syntax added that could exist alongside the current system. Much like many things in Dorico, once you understand it, it is very powerful as conceived. But that does mean that there is a learning curve which can be rather steep, conceptually, for some.)

Pressing “Enter” here (bottom panel, Write Mode) accepts and finalizes the input value:
But pressing “Enter” here (left panel, Play Mode) ignores the input value and starts playback instead:


I’m always interested in hearing what searches don’t provide relevant results, and different approaches in that general area. You should find that searching for “create flow” or similar will bring up more relevant results the next time the manual is updated.

In general, if you’re looking to create something or add something, terms like “adding” or “inputting” should bring up results if “creating” hasn’t.

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Some of your examples wouldn’t be my first line of reasoning, which brings us back to ‘what you’re used to’.

I also think it’s unfeasible for Lillie to cater to every English synonym, of which there are always many.

… which is where Dorico’s ability to create key commands easily comes into its own.


Yeah actually that wouldn’t be a good test unfortunately as that would be a simple one. It’s too dependent on user experience, not just in the application space but with software in general. A rough metric on that is their age - younger people generally adapt quicker. Second problem is that things are inherently complicated to some degree or another, so unless you do it all the time you may need to consult the docs frequently. I suffer from this as I use so many different applications during the day I can’t always keep straight the details of using any one of them.

FWIW nobody says Dorico is perfect or will ever be. Also for many of those points it makes perfect sense to me - or good enough sense. Take your 8va example, Clefs have to do with what a pitch is, Performance Techniques are expressive notations. Makes no sense to think of 8va as an expressive notation, it’s purely a pitch notation.

So far, my best way of finding things in Dorico is to use the .pdf manual’s index.

As a newbie using the search in the manual I find almost useless because terms such as “copy notes” is used all over the place and it can take along time to narrow down your search. But, in the index, I go to “C” then scroll down to copy where I find a huge list of copy commands or usages. I look at the page number I’m at and remember it (because I may have to come back to it a few times before I’ve found the command or usage I want) and then click on the page number that the index indicates that could be what I’m looking for. It is slightly time consuming, but way better than scrolling through the next and previous finds in the .pdf search command.

The only thing about creating your own short-cut in Dorico is that I’m not sure that Dorico indicates if that key combination is already in use. Other programs I’ve used (design software) will tell you so and either not let you use it or warn you of your “system” change.

Doug :slight_smile:


It does, yes. Try it. :wink:

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In my day… software came with printed manuals; and if they weren’t any good, you bought a “How To” guide and worked through it; or you went on a day’s course with a tutor; or you just sat down for a day screaming at the screen until you worked out how to add the most basic page element; or you were lucky enough to have a co-worker to show you the ropes.

For me, that’s how I learnt Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Filemaker, Quark XPress, Logic Pro, and God knows what else. “To say nothing of Finale.” :rofl:

The documentation may not cover every nuance, but it’s in the first rate; and with Anthony Hughes’ whimsical showcase videos, and John Barron’s tutorial sessions, the team have put in significant work to explain it all. It’s not unreasonable to meet them halfway.


Exactly. That one took a moment’s thought the first time I encountered it, because I wasn’t used to grouping 8va notations that way. Once I gave it that thought, I understood the logic and it made sense, and I had no trouble remembering it on later occasions. I think it’s always reasonable that I need to take a moment and think “what is Dorico getting at here?”, when I encounter something that’s not what I’m used to. Most often, I then see the point and the logic (yes, including fractional pickup notes), and can happily absorb the new information.

(Not always, I’ll add, in case I seem like a mindless cheerleader. The initial decisions about how to handle the octave-tenor-clef, even if I sympathize with the attitude that gave rise to them, has given us twisty revisions that always make me look up what the words mean. And there are other bits that I can never remember because their implementation doesn’t match how I think. But not many. And one could say the same thing about any notation software.)

Within the limitations of the Steinberg house style, Lillie has indeed done a first rate job. However, I find that house style to be indigestible. And whilst I agree the videos are also good, too many are now out of date to a degree they are likely to frustrate new users as menus and workflows have subtly changed.


That is one of the most impressive things about Dorico to me, this ability to create so many key commands within the application itself (no Keyboard maestro), and this would be one of the first things I would adapt if I started to use Dorico.

The two other ways of accessing submenu items mentioned by Daniel and pianoleo seem powerful for their general application, but I would definitely use a single key command for an action that I use as often as Beam together.

Because your question is illogical. You are not creating a new flow from an existing flow. You are either duplicating an existing flow or adding a new flow.

I made my peace with the manual, and I genuinely don’t mean to nitpick, but it’s strange that the “Steinberg house style” is only invoked when the manual is being discussed (or criticized).
Why isn’t there a similar “house style” that mandates that similar key commands are universal and shared between Cubase Nuendo and Dorico? Or that the underlying audio framework is fully and transparently shared between the apps so that Cubendo mixer and all of its plugins are automatically available in Dorico? Why hide behind the “house style” for something that’s relatively trivial when compared to the amount of freedom Dorico team seems to have within Steinberg when it comes to major things like the application framework, dev planning and so on?
I suspect the real issue here is the resources available. With Lillie being the entire department for Dorico help manuals - all on her own (as I understand), it makes all the sense for her to rely on every single template and shortcut available. Considering the furious pace of updates and development, it also makes sense to prioritize writing up new features versus making the clarity and presentation of existing material better.
But the thing that puzzles me even more than all that is why the Dorico team would not crowdsource the creation and especially the improvement of the manual under Lillie’s guidance and supervision. There’s a bunch of very gifted users on the forum who explain things so simply and elegantly I keep wondering why they aren’t writing the actual language in the manual. I often feel like the Dorico English manual is a machine backtranslation from German (no offense to any German speakers!) and in my case this means at least two takes just to understand what it says.

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I’d guess that it’s because they are three programs that came from very different places at very different times. It is serendipity that they all ended up in the Steinberg stable (and Dorico was the only one developed ‘from scratch’ in Steinberg)

On the contrary. If I understand correctly, the format of user manuals is mandated by Steinberg. Which explains precisely why the Dorico team has not crowdsourced improvements.

OT I’m wondering if this is a possible point of added value for Scorico? @DanKreider is there space for How to articles and perhaps videos (rather than just Scores) to supplement the manual?