Perfect Layout for Finale

As I’m officially still a Finale user and on a number of mailing lists, I just got a mail from Elbsound for a Finale add-on which creates the ‘perfect layout’, something akin to Sibelius’ Magnetic Layout or what Dorico has always done natively. It’s not cheap, especially if you don’t want to be limited to 36 visible staves with 400 bars each or if you want to use it on more than one computer. It’s a noble effort but, for me at least, too little and way too late. I was able to resist the urge to log onto one of the other forums and mention the ideal layout solution: switch to Dorico.

A lot of (contemporary) music is a lot easier to deal with in Finale, so while Dorico is a fantastic achievement, it is not the answer to everything (yet.) I’ve been using Perfect Layout since it was officially released for Windows (it was released for Mac today), and it has saved me countless hours of preparation time. Although MakeMusic don’t seem to recognize it, it is the best thing that happened to Finale in decades…

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But of course, Perfect Layout does all the things that Finale ought to do by default. Same goes for half of the third-party plug-ins, like Patterson Beams. PL is saving you time that you shouldn’t be spending in the first place.

And the very idea of having to press a “Please correct this music” button every time something changes is risible. (This is an app that still has a manual “Redraw Screen” item in the menu, for some reason. )

The pricing options are a bit confusing, but it’s somewhere between £80 and £220 for a standard licence, and £320 for the full whack. That’s on top of the cost of Finale.

That’s a lot of money to correct the deficiencies in Finale.

Perfect Layout is a staggering achievement, and it may well save Finale users time and effort. But for my money, Dorico still provides much more help and gets things done faster and better.


Amen! I actually wanted to include the idea of cost in my mini-tirade above. By the time you’ve paid for the plugins to make Finale work as it should, you’ve more than paid for Dorico Elements.

It sounds like you guys don’t get properly paid for your work :wink: We have to consider that Finale is what it is, not what it should have been, and PL costs no more than two meagre Finale updates…

I still use Finale exclusively for all my paid engraving work and have been watching the development of Perfect Layout closely for some time. The only problem is that many of the scenarios PL was developed to correct do not exist in my scores. I’ve taken the time to use Finale’s built-in features to eliminate a lot of unneeded work. One of the most important is Expression Text Categories. These allow unlimited positioning possibilities for text placement. You can set up as many different categories as you like and create new ones quickly on the fly. Dorico, however, is very limited in this regard. Playing Techniques, for instance, offer only 1 placement option - set horizontal and vertical offsets. 10 Finale categories get you 10 options for whatever your needs.

Dorico excels at dynamics alignment - Finale has no “magnetic layout”. However, the TG Tools “Align” utility is very powerful in the right hands. Yeah, Finale has many more shortcomings - take the unbelievably clunky Chord Suffix tool. I’m looking forward to switching to Dorico some day, but foremost is the fact that my clients need to be persuaded.