Long Time Finale User


I am a long time Finale user (since Finale 2.0 in the 90s!) and am evaluating Dorico 3.5. I am finding it a breeze to use. The learning curve, for me, is much like Finale but seems to go faster - mainly because I know what I’m looking for (and the quick reference cards help quite a bit). I have used Finale for everything from movie scores to full orchestra to wind ensemble to pit orchestra to lead sheets and almost everything in between.

I am seriously thinking of buying the crossgrade.

I’d would love to hear from any Finale users who have either made the switch or are using both programs - pros and cons.


Here’s Ben’s: https://blog.dorico.com/2018/07/from-finale-to-dorico-a-switchers-story

I switched in June 2018. Literally the best decision of my professional career. The only thing I missed from Finale was pitch-before-duration, and 3.5 added that (though it’s not quite perfect yet, IMO).

I’ve mostly forgotten Finale. I occasionally open it up to convert an old project to XML. I have to breathe into a paper bag for a bit and then I calm down enough to resume working.

Ok, that’s a bit exaggerated, but you get the idea. I work in a very specific typesetting niche, so I LOVE Dorico’s manual note spacing tool and master page functionality in particular. And a zillion other things.

Thanks, Dan! That is a very good article and is matching my experience so far. I have found, after diving in to Dorico, that (as you said) I generally am ignoring Finale. IMHO Dorico 2 did not live up to what I needed but Dorico 3.5 seems to be. I have some things to explore yet.

There’s just so much that Dorico does that Finale doesn’t (do for you). If you’re producing instrumental parts of multi-section works, then Flows, Flow headings and tacets make it effortless. Plus all the layout work – vertical page spacing, collision avoidance of notes in different layers, Note Spacing changes, and just better engraving.

I’ve produced three opera scores now in Dorico. Apart from the odd System break here and there, and change of Master Page/Flow Heading, I can count the manual interventions in each score on one hand.

The only con is that if Dorico can’t do it, then workarounds and faking-it is much harder. But you won’t have to wait long for the next update that will bring new features!

Like you, I started with Finale 2.2 in 1993. I made the switch to Dorico the day it came out. While it didn’t do everything at first, things quickly grew into the program.

FInale is very buggy, crashed frequently on my machine, and all around became what seemed like a band-aid, upon band-aid, upon band-aid.

I dread opening Finale, and with Dorico I seem to work so much faster. I was fast in Finale, but even more so in Dorico. I am switching all of the publishing companies literature over to Dorico, and aside from the initial score setup (players, instruments, titles, etc.) I am so much faster (almost half the time compared to Finale). The initial setup takes me a little longer in Dorico than it did in Finale, but once things are setup they just seem to work. No extra fiddling around.

Plus you have a VERY dedicated staff that want user feedback, and help out with feature requests, and issues. About 4 years ago I had to complete a project in Finale. Finale crashed numerous times at graphic export and printing. I left issues on the forum only to receive e-mails every 4-5 months with someone saying they had the exact same issues. No help from the staff, and no sense of concern for the user experiencing issues. Dorico is 100% different when it comes to that.


Thank you Robby and benwiggy. I have purchased it.

I’m still working in Finale and Dorico. If I have the choice, it’s Dorico…not even close. Crossgrade!

Now that’s a really creepy illustration to welcome someone!
I assume you do know the movie where this scene is coming from?
If so, you seem to have then a very convoluted sense of humor!
I know the movie and I am … schocked.
But maybe I am too sensitive :wink:

It was meant in good humour.

I just changed over Monday this week. I prefer Dorico, especially the way it looks without doing anything. But after using Finale for over twenty years I am really proficient at it so still use it for certain things. If I am doing graphic notation and want stemless notes without staff lines, it takes seconds in Finale. I then save it as a TIFF file, edit it in Adobe Elements, save it as a PNG and then import into Dorico. Although it sounds laborious it takes very little time. As yet I have not found how to produce staves without lines in Dorico - I assume it can’t be done.

I like both very much but after less than a week Dorico seems fresher and the engraving looks better with no effort. The thing that initially threw me was the one beat when a new document is created. Once I entered eight 4/4 bars it just looked like Finale.

Dorico will respect a one-line staff from an XML import. So you could use Finale just to produce a 1-line staff, export as XML, then import to Dorico and do the work from there.

Also, I’d export graphics as PDF from Finale, edit in Illustrator (or Affinity Designer, Graphic, InkScape, etc), and save as SVG. That way you keep it vector, so you can rescale without loss.

That tends to throw many initially, including Tantacrul, whose ability to use Dorico hardly seemed to develop past that point. Since much music is in free meter, Dorico’s new-document display is infinitely superior. I remember having to notate barless recitatives in Finale, which entailed having to estimate the meter of a single bar which would span an entire system, for each system, then hide the barlines and time signatures, hoping that I had estimated correctly, or having to break up the recitative into smaller, changing time signatures and use a plugin to hide barlines, time signatures and undo the spacing compensations for invisible barlines. Even for someone with a lot of experience doing this in Finale, it still was extremely time-consuming and prone to error, and those are countless hours of my life I’ll never get back.

Another point mentioned frequently in this forum is Dorico’s sturdiness: it’s possible to perform extremely complex, far-reaching rhythmic edits, especially in insert mode, and still be confident that Dorico won’t screw things up. Performing such operations in Finale often resulted in a non-undoable rhythmic mess or, perhaps even worse, an unexpected change which wasn’t immediately apparent.

And I’m just scratching the surface…

This was posted here some moons ago - it’s a Dorico file with no staff lines, achieved through XML, I believe. I can’t remember who posted it, but it’s brilliant. You can use it as a starting point for a new score.
No Staff Lines.dorico.zip (402 KB)

You can also modify the instruments.xml file to have an instrument with a 0 line staff. Just take an instrument you are never going to use and change the numStaffLines entry to 0.

But then you can’t write bagpipe jazz anymore.

; - )


That’s a feature, not a bug :laughing:

Thanks for that advice. I find using a PDF more difficult to edit down to the right size but Inkscape can convert an image to an SVG, so I will start using that method.

More good advice. What I did was save the Finale file with a one line percussion staff so that that section of code is clearly visible in the music xml file, then as you said, change the 1 to 0.

And taken in good humor! Gooble, gobble, gooble, gobble, one of us! One of us! Thanks, Ben!