My experience with Dorico so far

Hi guys, today I want to talk to you from my heart and really do not wish to start a fight or arguments etc.

The problem is that, in the past, I could EASILY learn notation software, DAW’s etc…but somehow, I truly have difficulty visualising/seeing Dorico in my mind. Talk Sibelius/Finale/Notion, I SEE the software with all its capabilities, buttons, menus, dialogue boxes etc. BUT…Dorico is a MYSTERY. I just cannot get to “SEE”/Visualise it.

Let me try to explain…I am commissioned to arrange a 30-minute piece of music with 10 movements (flows obviously), the size of a Military band with A3 Score and A4 Parts.
Now HERE my problem starts already. Let me explain my thought timeline…

  1. Do I want an EMPTY first page to place a picture and other stuff? How do I start arranging on page 2?
  2. WHEN do I create the 10 flows?
  3. When I click on a flow, Dorico does not navigate me to that flow to start work on it.
  4. When I add an instrument, sometimes I get “…Empty-handed Player…” cards…whatever this is?
    MY MAIN CONCERN…
  5. As I enter music (which is ok and not difficult to do), I find all the OTHER features a nightmare!
  6. WHERE do I find the menu item to do a function? I start searching…menu item after menu item.
  7. I wonder, “Does Dorico support this function”…like for example: “Can I select a slur and paste it to all other similar phrases”. Goodness, now the searching starts. Hundreds of menu items…frustration starts…GO TO FORUM!
  8. Wait for answer…sometimes “Sorry, Dorico cannot do that yet” or “with genuine gratitude in my heart someone tells me how”.
  9. I wonder if I will EVER get to know WHERE to look for a function. How do the guys that answers my question know the answers?
  10. Then I discovered (THIS IS IMPORTANT AS I DO THE SAME FOR MICROSOFT AS AN INSIDER) that Dorico is HIDDEN in many ways.

When one looks at the software, one does not SEE THE FUNCTIONS! One has to FIND it in some MENU or one must know shortcut keys to add bars. But there is a HECK of a lot of menus (the attached pic only displays about 30% of the menus) and child menus! THAT is where (I think) the real power of Dorico exists.

So I came to the conclusion that when I want to write some music I:

  1. Must set up the score…but how?
    a) I know what ensemble I want
    b) I know I must add those instruments
  2. Perhaps change the master pages, but how - and why? Do I HAVE to change/adapt master pages?

The flow appears. I have 10 movements. Do I create all those flows NOW? Or must I create each flow as I complete the previous one. I don’t know, so I created all 10 flows straight away. When I’m have flow1 active and I click on flow 10, I’m not taken to flow 10, so I have to scroll to that flow.

OK, so I have the flows. They need bars. But how does a rookie know the shortcut key to create more bars? You see…it is hidden. Same with time and meter signatures.

OK, so you start entering notes. THAT is easy as there is a flyout to the left that has those notes and stuff on it. There is also a flyout to the right that provides all the notation goodies like a double barline and pauses. That’s fine…BUT LOOK AT THE ATTACHED PICTURE.

There are a thousand commands that are hidden behind a line of menus. Probably most of us don’t even know what all these menus does and even if we do, what an old fashion way to work. Like I said, all those commands all hidden.

Now please hear me out and reason professionally.

Look at the Ribbon picture. With ONE view, I can see 3 layers of a main menu at one glance. The yellow is the main menu (under which everything is currently hidden in Dorico)…but on the ribbon, the 2nd child menus are constantly visible (Blue arrows). Clicking on some items in the 2nd layer open a visual 3rd layer.

I did a little test. I wanted to change a notehead into an x-head. That took 3 seconds. In Dorico I was not sure WHERE to start…so I assumed it would be in WRITE MODE. I went through the menus a found nothing. So I thought perhaps it’s in ENGRAVE MODE…NOPE, not there. Another 2 minutes later I got this brainwave of right clicking on the notehead and behold, there I found changing the notehead menu!

As you can see, many powerful items of Dorico is hidden from the user. Now it’s easy for the Dorico guys because they designed it. But there are those that really battle killing this beast.

I noticed the right-hand flyout panel is almost basically a ribbon! Surely something can be done to minimise some of the top menu items and add those powerful features in the ribbon on the right.

Forgive me for ranting on like this. Normally, I learn very quickly, but Dorico does not make sense to me. I waste LOTS of time searching menus and asking questions on the Forum.

I think what we need is someone the choose say “Beethoven’s 5th Symphony”. Show us from the start how to set up the score as published by a publisher. Show us what the master pages do and enter the piece page by page until the 1st movement is done. Then show us how the 2nd flow is set up and hen the 3rd. I’m sure a lot of the most used functions will be demonstrated and we can learn at last where all the commands and menu items are. Even setting properties. AND HIDING OBJECTS!

I have 2 weeks to finish this piece. I’m using Dorico because of the flow functionality…like I said, I have 10 movements. This will be performed at UNISA university. The question is, will I get it done?

Guys, please, my English is not that good and I KNOW all about the past fights regarding the Ribbon. We have FAR too many menu items already and Dorico is still in the beginning stages of its development. I look at Dorico and only see about 8 main menu items! The rest of all the power is hidden underneath the main menus.

Hi guys, today I want to talk to you from my heart and really do not wish to start a fight or arguments etc.

The problem is that, in the past, I could EASILY learn notation software, DAW’s etc…but somehow, I truly have difficulty visualising/seeing Dorico in my mind. Talk Sibelius/Finale/Notion, I SEE the software with all its capabilities, buttons, menus, dialogue boxes etc. BUT…Dorico is a MYSTERY. I just cannot get to “SEE”/Visualise it.

Let me try to explain…I am commissioned to arrange a 30-minute piece of music with 10 movements (flows obviously), the size of a Military band with A3 Score and A4 Parts.
Now HERE my problem starts already. Let me explain my thought timeline…

  1. Do I want an EMPTY first page to place a picture and other stuff? How do I start arranging on page 2?
  2. WHEN do I create the 10 flows?
  3. When I click on a flow, Dorico does not navigate me to that flow to start work on it.
  4. When I add an instrument, sometimes I get “…Empty-handed Player…” cards…whatever this is?
    MY MAIN CONCERN…
  5. As I enter music (which is ok and not difficult to do), I find all the OTHER features a nightmare!
  6. WHERE do I find the menu item to do a function? I start searching…menu item after menu item.
  7. I wonder, “Does Dorico support this function”…like for example: “Can I select a slur and paste it to all other similar phrases”. Goodness, now the searching starts. Hundreds of menu items…frustration starts…GO TO FORUM!
  8. Wait for answer…sometimes “Sorry, Dorico cannot do that yet” or “with genuine gratitude in my heart someone tells me how”.
  9. I wonder if I will EVER get to know WHERE to look for a function. How do the guys that answers my question know the answers?
  10. Then I discovered (THIS IS IMPORTANT AS I DO THE SAME FOR MICROSOFT AS AN INSIDER) that Dorico is HIDDEN in many ways.

When one looks at the software, one does not SEE THE FUNCTIONS! One has to FIND it in some MENU or one must know shortcut keys to add bars. But there is a HECK of a lot of menus (the attached pic only displays about 30% of the menus) and child menus! THAT is where (I think) the real power of Dorico exists.

So I came to the conclusion that when I want to write some music I:

  1. Must set up the score…but how?
    a) I know what ensemble I want
    b) I know I must add those instruments
  2. Perhaps change the master pages, but how - and why?

The flow appears. I have 10 movements. Do I create all those flows NOW? Or must I create each flow as I complete the previous one? I don’t know, so I created all 10 flows straight away. When I’m have flow1 active and I click on flow 10, I’m not taken to flow 10, so I have to scroll to that flow.

OK, so I have the flows. They need bars. But how does a rookie know the shortcut key to create more bars? You see…it is hidden. Same with time and meter signatures.

OK, so you start entering notes. THAT is easy as there is a flyout to the left that has those notes and stuff on it. There is also a flyout to the right that provides all the notation goodies like a double barline and pauses. That’s fine…BUT LOOK AT THE ATTACHED PICTURE.

There are a thousand commands that are hidden behind a line of menus. Probably most of us don’t even know what all these menus do and even if we do, what an old fashion way to work. Like I said, all those commands all hidden.

Now please hear me out and reason professionally.

Look at the Ribbon picture. With ONE view, I can see 3 layers of the main menu at one glance. The yellow is the main menu (under which everything is currently hidden in Dorico)…but on the ribbon, the 2nd child menus are constantly visible (Blue arrows). Clicking on some items in the 2nd layer open a visual 3rd layer.

I did a little test. I wanted to change a notehead into an x-head. That took 3 seconds. In Dorico I was not sure WHERE to start…so I assumed it would be in WRITE MODE. I went through the menus a found nothing. So I thought perhaps it’s in ENGRAVE MODE…NOPE, not there. Another 2 minutes later I got this brainwave of right clicking on the notehead and behold, there I found changing the notehead menu!

As you can see, many powerful items of Dorico is hidden from the user. Now it’s easy for the Dorico guys because they designed it. But there are those that really battle killing this beast.

I noticed the right-hand flyout panel is almost basically a ribbon! Surely something can be done to minimise some of the top menu items and add those powerful features in the ribbon on the right.

Forgive me for ranting on like this. Normally, I learn very quickly, but Dorico does not make sense to me. I waste LOTS of time searching menus and asking questions on the Forum.

I think what we need is someone the choose say “Beethoven’s 5th Symphony”. Show us from the start how to set up the score as published by a publisher. Show us what the master pages do and enter the piece page by page until the 1st movement is done. Then show us how the 2nd flow is set up and hen the 3rd. I’m sure a lot of the most used functions will be demonstrated and we can learn at last where all the commands and menu items are. Even setting properties. AND HIDING OBJECTS!

I have 2 weeks to finish this piece. I’m using Dorico because of the flow functionality…like I said, I have 10 movements. This will be performed at UNISA university. The question is, will I get it done?

I ask you all with due respect NOT to attack and be nasty about my concern. Like I said, this comes from the heart and REALLY like Dorico. This baby is going to turn into a beast!

PS. I just had this thought/reminder of “PhotoPlus” whereby one can turn this help screen on or off. So, if I’m busy with a certain function, then “help centre” displays all kinds of relevant information, including shortcut keys, that I might need to know.

I don’t know…maybe I’m not clever enough to use Dorico YET (though I doubt it), but there are folks out there that shares my sentiments, let’s hear about it. Of course this is NOT an attack on the Steinberg team, hell, I have also come a long way with them since MANY years ago. We somehow have to find a middle ground and LEARN THIS SON OF A GUN!

In anticipation of finding and creating a KILLER notator that will stop other people’s attempts dead in their tracks!!! :smiley:

PEACE!!


While I like Dorico’s interface, just because I actually like that most of the commands are out of the way when I’m composing, perhaps some of Hans’s requirements could be helped by “help bubble” mode that gives more detailed help (especially in write and engrave mode). A tour of the right-click menu and the properties drawer is perhaps where some are finding a stumbling block. In reading other posts, I gather than an organized tour of the key-commands, might prove useful so that a user can quickly get up to speed with note & chord editing.

Since I do a lot of work on the go with a laptop, an interface that isn’t mouse heavy with most of the visual real-estate devoted to the task at at hand (such as writing music), I like the modal approach to Setup-Write-Engrave-Play-Print.

Certainly one of the big stumbling blocks for Dorico right now is the poor state of the documentation. I do appreciate that Daniel has laid out a 40+ page release bulletin, but ideally, all of this should be absorb-able in the help system or the interface itself.

As for my UI, ask, can we put the “filter” command somewhere convenient, like the right-click menu or key-operated popup, so that I don’t have to go back to the edit menu when selecting. It’s sort of funny that the staff-size command (relatively infrequent in composing) is on the right-click menu, but something as common as edit filters isn’t… I’m sure there is a logic to it, but I don’t see it.

In particular, the “select notes in chords” function (a useful thing for arrangers transcribing piano to orchestra) seems to stubbornly stuck in the Edit->Filter->Notes in Chords.

Some of these UI concerns could have been addressed by the users themselves if the “Integrated Lua interpreter for script plug-in development with basic API” was, well, a little basic. As it stands now, the Lua interpreter is little more than a macro recorder and hardly a platform for plugins that could simplify end user simplification.

Like Hans, I believe that Dorico could be a killer a notator, but the combination steep learning curve, missing features, and weak documentation/help (which compounds the question “is this feature missing or is it I can’t find it?”) put Dorico (even 1.1) is a rather bad light compared with more mature systems.

I would suggest you start learning the software with short pieces rather than 30-minute, ten-movement works needed on a deadline.

You clearly prefer a ribbon-style interface, but others do not. I’m sure the “helps” in the Dorico interface will grow as the Team finishes implementing critical features (unpitched percussion, etc.), but that is not where we are now.

Dorico not only has a different interface; it has a different “logic” than previous programs, and that demands an investment of time practicing (as well as a good manual eventually). You are very experienced using SIbelius, and after investigating Dorico some time ago, IIRC, you took a break to go back to Sibelius to complete work that was important–perhaps critical–for your job. That means you now have to catch up, which I know is a lot of work (and would be even if you had consistently kept up–believe me, I know).

For critical work, it appears that Dorico is not positioned to fill your needs full time. I find myself in the same situation. You are right to explain your needs to the team; no doubt they want to hear from all of us who see Dorico as the next step in notation software. But I expect they will continue to follow their road map: I want them to follow their roadmap, and we will have to be patient, as I’m sure you are.

Dear Hans,
I understand your frustration . Especially as you have taken the bold step into a new program with an upcoming deadline.
Luckily - as you probably already know - you’re in the hands of the best customer support in the world. Have you seen all of the Dorico videos on youtube? Also the monthly “Discover Dorico” videos of John? You can write him directly, and he might give you a video demonstration of what you need.

I haven’t had as big problems finding stuff as you describe here myself, though I often jump between Engraving, notation, and layout options to find the options I’m looking for. There are definitely some logic behind it, as well as everything else, and the more I think about the title of the modes and menus, the more likely am I to find what I’m looking for immediately.

I’ll give you a quick walkthrough of things that might be useful to you and others, though I’m sure you already know most of them.
A general note about the menus: I almost never use them myself, as many of the features are accessible other places in the UI.

Hiding stuff:
This isn’t straight forward in Dorico. In Sibelius, you can hide almost every object, which gives you a lot of flexible workarounds. I believe the philosophy of Dorico is more that everything should be supported natively, and therefor you shouldn’t need to hide anything for workarounds. They are not there yet (though they’re coming closer with every update).

These are some stuff you can hide directly:

  • Time signatures, bar numbers and chord symbols can be hidden from the properties panel in Write mode.
  • Rests can be ‘hidden’ using the “Remove rest” function found in the Edit menu in write mode.

These are some stuff you can hide with a workaround. Note that these edits belongs to the layout. That means that you’ll have to do it both for the part and score individually:

  • Stems can be hidden by selecting the notes going to the properties panel in Engrave mode, and setting ‘Stem length adjustment’ to -3,5. This works well for the standard notehead.
  • Other object, such as noteheads, can be hidden by setting the opacity to 0%. You’ll find this by clicking the color in the properties panel in Write mode.

Edit menu
Have a close look at the edit menu. Here you’ll find a lot of handy features to perform edits on your selection. You’ll find filtering, copying, pasting etc. You’ll also be able to edit noteheads, slurs, octave line etc. This menu is available in all modes, though I’m not sure if every function works exactly the same way.
The right-click menu you’ve found is basically a selection of features from the Edit menu (though you’ll get some different options if you right-click on the players, flows or layouts in Setup mode).

Write menu
Here you’ll find stuff to input. Notice that the ‘Panels’ sub menu takes you to the different sections of the right hand “ribbon”/“flyout panel”.
The ‘Create…’ section of the Write menu takes you to the popovers. Most of these are just a different (and faster) way to input stuff from the same right hand panel. I recommend you to print this list, which shows you what you can write in the different popovers. I’m sure you’ll quickly learn the most used ones.

Your questions

  • To create an empty page: Go to engrave mode, and press the “Insert pages” (A paper with a + sign next to it) button in the right hand panel.
  • It doesn’t matter when you create flows.
  • Clicking a flow (unfortunately) won’t take you to it. However - you can use Edit menu -> ‘Go to’ -> ‘Go to bar’ (a bit misleading)
  • The empty-handed player appears if something interrupts the ‘Add player’ dialog: if you hit Esc or, click something outside of the dialog (This annoys me a bit as well). It also appears if you delete all instruments of a player.
  • Master pages allows you to preform a layout edit that applies to all pages with that master page. E.g. changing the fonts, inputing some running header text etc (opposed to performing the edit on all pages individually). You don’t need to use these at all if you enjoy the default, but it is a really powerful feature.
  • Adding measures, time and key signatures: This is accessible from the right hand panel / ribbon. Even though they are separated into categories, I would say this is quite similar to Sibelius. You can also add them from the popovers (writing+8 in the bar popover adds 8 bars).

Hans,

I can understand your frustration, and I can understand your desire to learn more. The problem people lseem to have isn’t with true statements like yours, but rather people who act poorly and disrespectful. So I don’t see any fights coming your way.

Since there is somewhat of a manual lacking, it is difficult to learn the software. However, if you know the intent about how and why the program was designed a specific way, I think you would find it a little easier to maneuver around.

I would HIGHLY recommend you watch the Dorico MOLA video on Youtube. This is a presentation where Daniel walks through the program long before it was released. In the video he talks about how things work, and sort of the why behind it. After watching that video (about 90 minutes long), I felt that had a great grasp on Dorico the day I bought it. While I still have questions here or there, the majority of the questions you seem to have, I learned or saw from that video. Sometimes the why and how behind something makes sense, which then translates into the usage.

If you haven’t done so, please check it out. It might put a few things into context for you, and help you to figure things some things out.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jswPADssvhc&t=1335s

Hope this helps!

Robby

Also, check out the Steinberg Dorico channel videos - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIOwP19omIVDSUq2rTGgHKw. Not just the short "how to"ones, but the longer monthly “hangouts” which show you one of the Dorico team members doing something close to “real work” with the program. They should get you started understanding the mysteries of Engrave Mode, for example!

There is a lot of information in Daniel’s “Making Notes” blog as well.

+1

I bought in early because I was afraid of missing out on the educational crossgrade price. I knew I wouldn’t be able to switch from Sibelius right away. I was hoping that would happen within a year, but now I’m thinking it could be much longer.

I keep finding Dorico is missing stuff I assumed any full-featured notation app would have; for example, a couple of days ago discovered there’s no metronome click. (No doubt it’ll be added eventually.)

As for ease-of-use: When Sibelius added the ribbon, I was cranky for a few minutes, but I quickly grew to like it, especially in conjunction with the search field and the tooltips.

I’ve been using Sibelius for many years, though only in earnest in the past five or so. I’m not a Sibelius ‘knocker’, though I do worry about Avid’s business model.

No experience of Finale; though I’m prepared to accept what I’ve read: that it’s the clunkiest of the three.

I experimented with Dorico when it first appeared. But now I’m seriously considering/planning a move to make it my default composition tool.

I can see Hans’ (and others’) points about some of the difficulties; but I keep reminding myself that Dorico is still evolving - and aggressively so.

Then, whenever I use it (which, as said, is more and more) it just feels very ‘right’… everything is starting to fall into place (though I still have a great deal to learn). But I feel strangely at home. And that feeling is increasing during each new session.

Add to that the energy and expertise of Daniel, Anthony and their colleagues, the resources (and business model) of Steinberg, and the certainty that Dorico is already doing many things which Sibelius cannot, and I really believe that Dorico is the tool to stick with.

It doesn’t seem fair to dismiss Dorico when, as has been said, you have a deadline or even less ambitious circumstances that require functionality which is still emerging.

But surely there’s now enough evidence of, say, the amazingly tight relationship between features and UI to emphasize the positive. And learn to love it.

Unfamiliarity is not the same as deficiency.