Reaching out to our Finale- (and Sibelius-) using friends.


That is a brilliant (and accurate, I think) analysis of what what causes many new Dorico users to get confused prematurely. I myself was so ‘wired into’ the Sibelius model that when I first bought Dorico at the beginning, I too found it unintuitive. But only for about three days! Once I read and absorbed Daniel’s design philosophy, and watched him do a live demo of the application, all that confusion just melted away. All new people have to do is give it a chance. When they are too impatient to do so it’s their loss.

Except that “Dorico is unintuitive and too much work to do simple things”, especially note entry.

Ok, once you get past that, 3 is now supposed to be the high art for layout and publication. Maybe, we’ll see. Despite all the early praise from fanboys, the jury is still out on that. Maybe it is—that will be nice.

Problem is that most uses of notation software is not for layout and publication. Users like I need to exchange files with everyone from hobbyists using MuseScore to show arrangers using Finale (Finale’s strengths in that situation should not be underestimated).

Lastly, until Dorico makes a big push into the education market, it will be no more than a niche product for those in the know. Pros use the apps they used in college if they do everything needed. My kid grey up with Finale and won’t look at anything else—doesn’t have the need and doesn’t care what anyone thinks. Publishers are fine with it.

Bottom line as of now. No one I exchange files with uses Dorico. None of the schools I deal with use it. Dorico doesn’t have to be as good or better than Finale and Sibelius (and 2 certainly wasn’t), it has to play nice with the other children.

So am I going to need to wait for Dorico 4 or what?

I don’t disagree that XML is important. I use it nearly every day.

But every single one of my collaborators and clients uses Dorico, including a major publisher who just came on board two months ago. It’s also making inroads in the film scoring and VGM market.

I know several educational institutions who are coming on board, outfitting all their tech labs with Dorico. More and more professors are allowing students to submit assignments in Dorico.

The Composer’s Toolbox published a pretty interesting survey last month of several hundred music notation users within the CT community. I think something like 50% of F and S users were strongly considering switching programs within the next six months. The overwhelming program of choice? Yup, you guessed it.

You’re right that people will tend to stick with what they use in college. The people that pick up Dorico most quickly, in my experience, are college freshmen who haven’t used any notation program before. It’s coming.

MusicXML has its uses, but it isn’t particularly useful to me personally. I work with lots of modern scores with aleatoric notation etc. MusicXML has no good way of interpreting anything like that - if is something very traditional (classical era etc) or film music or something more commercial then it can be very helpful of course. But if I receive a score that is chock full of extended techniques, and very little traditional notation, MusicXML is really of limited value in interpreting it.

I find Dorico note entry just fine, and before Dorico I worked in Musicator, then Finale, then Sibelius.

Certainly I think it is important for Steinberg to make a big push in education. Like you and dankreider I agree about people tending to stick with the apps they used in college.

Finale I think is secure for the foreseeable future in terms of its core base - too many publishing companies use it as the standard, too many established composers are so used to it that they wouldn’t even consider using anything else. However, given the way things have been, I am expecting Sibelius to be discontinued in ~5 years time. Avid doesn’t really seem to care about the product, and the Sibelius base isn’t as solid as Finale’s. If Avid continues to show that they don’t care by forcing yearly subscriptions in exchange for a few token surface features, users are not likely to stick with it in the long term and will jump ship (mainly to Dorico, I should think).

For me, the justification to composers who use Sibelius is really this: Sibelius is probably not going to exist a decade from now (my own opinion, but I think it has basis in reality). If you write a piece in 5 years that is your magnum opus, and someone 5 years later really wants to perform it but wants an instrument swapped or some other minor changes, what do you do? If you stuck it out with Sibelius too long, and the product is discontinued and can no longer run on a modern computer, you re-engrave it from scratch. What should be an hour of work becomes days of note entry and proofreading. Who wants to be stuck with that?

I just did a quick MusicXML export / import from Sib to Dorico 3.

I think it looks overall a lot better than when I’ve done this in the past, however it lost the tempo and all pizz / arco (stripped).

I’ve been told that stripping unknown stuff was fixed in 2.2, but clearly not.

Extra painful too, when you have to click on the pizz button for each note (can’t just select 5 staves and click on pizz). I have to say I really like and heavily use Sibelius multi-stave editing features.

Playback in Dorico is odd too, it insists on shortening the last note under a slur. Sigh. No matter what playback timing options I choose. So I can’t make it sound right, which makes it a non-starter for mock-ups for me. Oh well at least Dorico is moving rapidly and it will get there eventually!

You can do this now. Press enter to activate the caret. Shift-down arrow to select the staves below. Shift-P and type pizz. and press enter. You get pizz. on all those staves at once.

adrien, a couple things regarding XML import.

  • playing techniques don’t import, that’s correct. Not really Dorico’s fault; they’re just a completely different thing in Sibelius.
  • tempos should not be lost. I wonder about your import settings in Preferences.

Really??? A 3.0 feature?

Edit: ah, of course. The new multi-staff input. Brilliant.

ok thanks!

Also I tried again but with exporting using dolet. This time it transferred over the tempo. But still stripped pizz / arco. Dorico REALLY needs to not do this, it adds all sorts of problems to make sure we get them all back in the right place etc etc. I feel like I’m banging my head against a wall this is about the 5th time I’ve complained about that problem.

Playing techniques will never be accurately conveyed using XML, and this isn’t Dorico’s fault.

I understand that playing techniques in Sibelius are just text.

But Dorico needs to stop making this our problem when it’s perfectly capable of fixing it. Even importing it as text would be 10000% better because at least then I would know WHERE I need to put them back in. Stripping is insane. Eventually they will discover I’m right about this and fix it.

Have you explored the import options? There is the option to import text objects. Might work.

Now my previous comment about “that’ll never happen” may end up sounding a bit silly. Who knows.

I’ll take a look thanks for the pointer

I turned on importing text items. Made no difference. Turns out it’s not exported as text but directions.


SURELY Dorico can make use of this. It’s not like pizz is some arcane never-seen directive.

Just to hammer home the point. If I had to send you the MusicXML and you were going to use Dorico to edit it, you’d be royally shafted, you’d have no way to know what should be pizz or arco unless I sent you a PDF as well or something.

And even if I sent you a PDF as well, you’d have to spend a large amount of time making sure you didn’t miss any, because you’d need to do that manually.

It’s really an unfathomably bad decision to strip these.

The Dorico developers should easily be able to program it to interpret certain text indications as playing techniques. So arco and pizz. text being interpreted as techniques properly is entirely doable from a programming perspective.

The only challenge though is if the original file has something else in the same text block as the arco or pizz., for instance “unis., arco” it should split into two playing techniques, unis. and arco. What if one doesn’t exist as a playing technique? When do you fall back on system text?

Those challenges can be solved by the programmers (I have no doubt about it) but it just takes time and priority vs. other things.

Part of my motivation for this thread is to wonder if there are any specific things that might be done to hope potential users through this period of fog. I know I experienced that and I bet almost everybody here did. But they just powered through it.

Is there anything that could be done to make that mental shift easier?

yes, even if a “it’s too hard to interpret” result is to just display it as text, this is possible to recover from, whereas stripping it creates a logically impossible situation as you remove information without telling the importer.

And if Dorico wants to encourage people over from Sibelius etc, these customers want to be able to bring their legacy work with them, and this is MusicXML, this should be a top priority feature to get right.

There are so many great videos etc. that I don’t think any more materials are needed. Temper their expectations so that they know what is in store in terms of switching. They stand to gain a lot but only if they if they put enough time and effort in - it is going to take a lot more than they think. You can put together the best “here is how to do what you do in Sibelius in Dorico” or “here is how to do what you do in Finale in Dorico” documents you want. It is going to take time for end users to adjust even if you do that.

You don’t have to give hypotheticals. I import XML almost every day, including string scores that had already been previously bowed. :wink: I get it, it’s a bummer.