Most important feature requests for Dorico 4

Dear Dorico software development team, dear community,

I am a composer from Hungary. After using Finale for 8 years and Sibelius for 13 years, this June I have definitely switched to Dorico. Now I just have finished my first major project, a 30 minutes long oratorio for soloists, choir and orchestra. While I absolutely love the software and its possibilities, after becoming familiar with the whole workflow, with all the respect I would suggest some important feature improvements which I think would enhance the user experience of this excellent program and would make it even more professional:

  1. overall performance boost for bigger projects (especially switching between Engrave and Write modes, or switching between parts, or working with Master Pages are unprofessionally slow),
  2. native Group labels shown at the beginning of every system in the whole score, full and abbreviated (f. ex. CHOIR),
  3. shortcut possibilities to Properties (for example Hide bracket for tuplets, or Barline interaction)
  4. in Engrave/Edit Font Styles, font style options for Parts too (f. ex. now I cannot have smaller Rehearsal Marks or bigger Tempi in my parts just if I set a custom scale in properties, which is very inconvenient),
  5. Show/Hide in score/parts option for independent items,
  6. automatically shown round bracketed cautionary accidentals at the start of new systems (which is now possible with very much work),
  7. new “attacca” or “segue” item, positioned right, at the end of flows,
  8. really working bordered Paragraph Styles (f. ex. for Layout names),
  9. creating/assigning items like Dynamics to tied notes (I mean, f. ex. to a note the end of a tie) should be much more simple, without untieing existing notes,
  10. creating multiple Cues, Playing techniques, Ornaments, Breath marks etc. at once, just like Dynamics which can be created for many staves at the same time,
    11 fixing the problem of too many Condensing labels (for ex. “a2”) in Engrave mode, which is very stressful and irritating while working on a big project,
    12 automatic numbering of bars with the same musical material, like this Sibelius Number Bars plugin (see the picture below),
  11. a simple ruler for assigning items together in Engrave mode (now I am using an other application, Free Ruler for this),
  12. more advanced page layout editing for text and graphics (like Text wrap around objects in InDesign,
  13. audio export time boost. While exporting PDF is unbelievable quick, exporting audio is really slow and problematic,
  14. measurement scale to the channel strips audio level in the Mixer,
  15. fixing the problem when editing a Property in Engrave mode, the score jumps away from that page to a very distant one,
  16. improved bracketing in tuplets: bracket shown only if a rest exists.

Thank you for your fantastic job!

Sincerely yours from Budapest!

  1. You don’t need to untie notes to input a dynamic inside a tie chain. You need to bring the caret to that exact rhythmic spot, and invoke the dynamics popover there.
    Hope it helps!

Yes, assigning a simple dynamic is quite easy, but something like the is much more complicated and slow.

I strongly recommend assigning a key command to “Duplicate to Staff Below.” I have it assigned to Cmd-Shift-M. Makes this sort of thing quite fast.


Wow, Dan, I don’t know this command yet :slight_smile: Where can I find it?

You have to go into the program properties and assign it as a custom key command. There are many things that can be assigned by the user that are not activated by default. It’s a very long list worth perusing through.


The command itself is in the Edit menu.

As for 7: You can of course create a Paragraph Style for right-aligned text, and use it for System text objects like Attacca.

You can have bar numbers centred above every bar, if you wish. Though I don’t think you can put brackets round them.

1 Like

Thank you, Dan and Ben, this is very helpful!

Nope. Use the caret to input dynamics. One pass. Then use your new shortcut (I use alt-shift-n/m) to copy to staff above/below. Rock solid, reliable, precise. Hope it helps!


12… Surely, It’s not about bar numbers, but the standard practise in parts to number (x) any substantial number of consecutive identical bars…?

I’m at the same point than Rameau (Finale and Sibelius user for years and just finished a first big orchestral project in Dorico) and I was planning on writing my own wishlist in case it might be of interest to someone. Well it sure will be in my own interest if some of my suggestions get implanted.

First thing first, I’m reaaaaally enjoying Dorico. It is by far the best notation software I’ve used and the results are absolutely outstanding. So please keep in mind, that I’m only hoping these suggestions will help make things even more awesome. It’s by no mean a critiscm of the team great achievement.

This being said…

A. Windows / layouts…

  1. I do agree with Rameau that switching windows and layouts is a slow and heavy process. But that might be because my computer is getting old.
  2. It would be great to be able to unclutterd the panels and nearly every list in the program of all the stuff one might never or rarely used. Maybe some subfolders (more…) could be added where one would move unuseful stuff for him.

B. Configuration :

  1. Saving custom ensembles
  2. Capacity to duplicate a Chef part. Everything in my project has to be translated in four languages and that means that I have to save four different files. Which also means that any changes or correction in the music has to be done four times.

C. Key commands :

  1. Please make every function assignable to key commands, not only the ones in the property panel as Rameau asked. Some of them can be reach hacking the Json file, but others can’t, or at least my very modest programming skills won’t allow me to do so. One of Dorico’s strength is to keep your hands off the mouse. It could be even better.
  2. Simplify the key commands : quite a few functions are redundant. Things like grouping, ungrouping… should have a single key commands and apply to dynamics, playing techniques, hamps… depending on the selection. “Hide” should work for everything that can be hidden, so why a different “hide” for dynamics? Ideally, it should even trigger colour opacity to zero for non hideable elements.

D. Write Mode

  1. I would really like to be able to move floating items (things like text indications) freely without having to switch to Engrave mode. I don’t think that would have any impact on the visual structure of the score. The majority of times, it’s only to clean up the space which can get very loaded.
  2. On a longer term perspective, capacities for notating contemporary music could and should be improved by far.

E. Engrave mode

  1. A grid and basic locking direction (straight vertical or horizontal line) when moving stuff with the mouse;
  2. A way to move staves, barlines… with the mouse. My project needed very unusual and irregular spacing and moving stuff with alt-arrow and even in bigger increments was a real pain;

F. Play mode

  1. As mentionned quite a few times in this forum, the capacity to have more than a cc line open;
  2. Can we get the levels when inputting cc data and the metronome speed on the Time line? They only show after selecting a dot.

Finally, my harshest critic, actually my only real critic, concerns Dorico’s double personnality. As mentionned, a big part of the programm is conceived to keep your hands off the mouse and this is great. But in some other areas, it’s just clicking frenzy. For example, here are the steps to enter a gliss in harmonics 4th, hiding the stems of the in between notes to keep the rythmic clarity. Steps 1 to 6 are a charm, as they all use shortcuts. But starting at 7…

  1. Enter first note
  2. Lock duration and enter tied in between notes
  3. Enter end note
  4. Enter the gliss.
  5. Select the cissors, untied the first and in between notes
  6. Select start and end notes to make them harmonics.
  7. Unselect the gliss. (and the phrasing if there’s one) who gets automaticaly selected with the last note;
  8. Open the property panel [shortcut]
  9. Slide to the Harmonics section;
  10. Toggle the Harmonic type button.
  11. Select Artificial [by default]
  12. Toggle the Partial button.
  13. Click 2 times in the submenu to get to the 4th partial
  14. If necessary, select the gliss
  15. Toggle the Glissando text
  16. Click on the scrolling menu and select No text
  17. Select the in between notes
  18. Toggle the colour button
  19. Click on the black square
  20. Set Opacity to 0
  21. Click Enter

I’m perfectly aware that this is not regular notation and that it’s a pain to enter in any notation software. But I did choose Dorico because it’s not like the other ones! Of course if you have one gliss like that to enter, it’s no big deal, but when you have a few systems of it with divisi strings, it does test your patience.
I think the most efficient way to ease the workload in non typical situation like this, consists in giving us full control on key commands. In my example, shortcuts for harmonic 4th and colour opacity to 0, cuts the workload by half.

Thanks and keep up with the good work!

I appreciate that your example there is a fairly intricate operation. For things like hiding the glissando text, you can do that by default for all glissando lines in Engraving Options > Glissando Lines (e.g. if you’re much more likely not to hide text than show it, set this default to “no text”).

For hiding the noteheads using Color > Opacity, if you do this a lot you might prefer to create your own notehead-less notehead set and apply that to the notes - you can assign shortcuts to changing the notehead set for any set that’s either included by default or a custom one saved as default. There are a few threads about that in this forum - one tip is to include empty spaces in the notehead so you have something to select later.

Don’t forget that you can record sequences of commands that you perform frequently.

Any script you record will be saved as ‘usermacro.lua’ in /Library/Application Support/Steinberg/Dorico 3.5/Script Plug-ins (or similar Windows folder for user data :confused: )

You can rename that file, and it will show in the Script menu. (If you don’t rename it, it will get overwritten the next time you record something.)

I’ve been using my macro to hide brackets and tuplet numbers for years now. Very convenient when you need synchronized local time signatures.

E. Engrave mode

  1. A grid and basic locking direction (straight vertical or horizontal line) when moving stuff with the mouse;
  2. A way to move staves, barlines… with the mouse. My project needed very unusual and irregular spacing and moving stuff with alt-arrow and even in bigger increments was a real pain;

I too would love some type of built in ruler. Here are a few different implementations I could see being useful:

    1. No fuss, assignable rulers (both vertical and horizontal, of course) with handles that can be dragged around. Many of us use 3rd party apps to accomplish this currently, although it would be lovely to have this baked in.

    1. “Crosshair mode” (sub-mode within Engrave mode) that has a clickable button just like when you add frames or switch to note spacing. Here two cross hairs would emanate from your selected object in both planes which would allow you to move it around with the mouse or arrow keys whilst seeing how it lines up with everything else all along both planes. I would suggest that if this method was employed, then perhaps the preview mode where everything is hidden is automatically employed as well so all you have are the cross hairs emanating from the object as the singular overlay on the screen. If the particular object has more than one anchor point, we should be able to tab between them just like normal and have the crosshairs change as you tab.

    1. Same as above, although everything is hidden apart from the anchor points of each object, so it would appear with boxes similar to note spacing mode.

    1. No special sub mode in engrave, however whenever you move an item, crosshairs temporarily emanate from it to help you line things up. Then they would fade one or two seconds after you release the mouse or after your last alt+arrow keystroke.

Personally I would prefer a hybrid of 2 and 3, where you can hit a key command to show all anchor points or hide them and choose to just use the crosshairs on a visually pristine page à la preview mode, or option 4, which would then allow you to line things up seamlessly without needing to switch to another submode. I would also love it if any of these modes drew horizontal lines emanating from either side of lines of lyrics (at the baseline, and perhaps even at the top of the tallest character?) so you can see how a lyric might line up with another object all the way across a page.

Gee! I should have check it out before finishing the score! The worst is that I did use the macros to hack the json file but didn’t think of using them for what I imagine is their main application. I’ll kick myself in the butt, thanks!

I didn’t forget, I just never thought about it! :mrgreen: À ajouter dans ma liste de “tabarnaks!!!”

Hi Lillie,
For visual clarity, I usually leave the “gliss.” on single iteration or the first one of a passage in gliss. and remove it from subsequent ones. So it’s basically trying to evaluate if I’ll have more gliss with text or more without to setup the default. A key command to toggle the appearance would just make everything quicker.

Thanks to all for the detailed wish lists in this thread. I won’t reply to every point in turn, but please be assured that I’ve carefully read everything.

Regarding nudging items graphically in Write mode, it could be done, but I’m quite uneasy about it. I’ve thought about it in the past, of course, but both from the point of view of muddying the waters in terms of what you can do in each mode and from the point of view of introducing inconsistencies in how things work in Write mode, I’m not keen on the idea. For starters, we wouldn’t be able to use the same shortcuts that we use in Engrave mode (because of course Alt+up/down/left/right already have their own purpose for musical items in Write mode). I still think it’s preferable to try not to start nudging items as soon as you have input them, but if that’s something you really need to do, I think we should focus on making it as quick and easy as possible to switch to and from Engrave mode. Provided you work in page view in Write mode, switching to Engrave mode with a single item (or only a few items) selected should be more or less instantaneous.

As for providing greater keyboard access, I definitely agree on that front. Adding support for harmonics to the playing techniques popover is something we are planning, and although it’s not feasible to make it possible to define a key command for every single property (most of them require the specification of a value; only a reasonably small subset are simple on/off switches) we do have ideas for how to improve keyboard access to properties in the future.