Once I saw that MS4 was out, I downloaded to check it out. When it first was released a decade ago or so, it reminded me a lot of a Finale clone. Many similarities from note entry, etc. I never did any real work in it. Just playing around.
As time went on, I would download the newest versions when they were released to see what was happening/changing. But all that said, it was still a program I never used for any real work. Just playing around to see how well it handled certain tasks.
MS4 was released, and I saw a very well done marketing video. I thought “They have stepped this up big time!” Downloaded immediately. A lot of things are better. The app is easier to understand and clearer to use. They made a HUGE stride in the areas of user experience. But at the end of the day, to me it is still a piece of software I will never use for any real work. Maybe to just to play around to see how things looked, and how the software handles certain things. Honestly, I was more excited to see their music font at work (Leland), and as such some output of it.
I wrote a small passage, very repetitive, and copied it is 3 other staves. All worked ok. Added some accents, and realized I wanted them to default above the notes. I looked all over and could not find that anywhere. I did learn how to “flip” the accent manually, but I could not find any set of rules applying to accents and their placement. At the end of the day, is this a deal breaker? I really don’t know. For me, it kind of is. Perhaps I have been spoiled by Dorico. But looking to change something like accent placement left me looking in all kinds of menus. In some cases very well organized, in some cases not all organized. I could not find this aspect of the software. The new sounds are great for a FREE app, but I need more than just sounds to get me going.
I feel MS4 will probably get many “students” into music notation, composing etc. And in time, those students who need more, will move into a system like Dorico. I can also see MS4 adding more features in time, and arguably at a speed somewhat faster than Dorico. I only say that because I have a small feeling the development team at MS4 (contributors and full-time) is probably much larger than Dorico’s team. The list of developers in one of those videos looked like 30 or 40 strong.
But the thing that really drove the point home for me about the strength of Dorico, was not only struggling with accent placement in MS4, but after printing a small sample to see the output of the new font, I saw that I liked the way it drew slurs. I opened Dorico, and went into engraving options, and there were a TON of options for adjusting the look of slurs. Just super powerful and flexible. Which at the moment MS4 is not.