SE/Elements/Pro. Should the developers share their considerations?

I’ll start by saying that I don’t like to write about such topics, because whoever develops a product can determine the price he demands for it (and Dorico is definitely the best software also in relation to value for money), but I still decided to write because something doesn’t seem logical.
At every new Dorico, a few features that were available only on the pro version got unlocked on elements, and a few features that were available on elements got unlocked on SE.
Should the developers share with us theirs considerations about which features to enable to which version?
Now, for example, you can write in elements for any ensemble of any size (for those who 24 wasn’t enough for them), but still, if you want to write a simple sheet of traditional arabic music with only one instrument, you’ll have to get dorico pro if this song has quarter flats (for example this sheet music is writable only with dorico pro, and so are a lot of the sheets in this site of arabic songs sheet music.)
Quarter flats are not a marginal thing in arabic and turkish music, they are very basic (you can see there)
It’s only one example, and in my opinion, it doesn’t make sense.

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This is something that has been on my mind for quite some time. I agree with you. I don’t consider this an “advanced” feature at all.

I’m guessing, same as with the much-discussed decision about what to focus development on for version 5.0, this is quite simply a business calculation. Management has determined that ‘unlimited players’ will entice more people (and institutions!) to spend €100 on their mid-level offering than ‘quarter-tone accidentals’ would. And while you and I as individual users might not agree with that, it does sound sensible from a business perspective I’m afraid.


Thank you @hrnbouma , If one day the Dorico team needs the services of a lawyer, I highly recommend you to them. lol

I’m afraid, but also from a business point of view it doesn’t make any sense.
How many professional composers (and institutions) who need scores for more than 24 players won’t be ready to reach the pro version for this?
On the other hand, which amateur who needs only to write simple arabic sheet music will pay 579€ for this?

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Limitations of cut-down products will always be arbitrary. There’s a cut-off point somewhere, and if the one feature you need is in the full-price edition, then that’s the one you have to buy.

The SE edition, being free, has no commercial value, except as a means to entice users into the Dorico eco-system, and get them to move up to Elements, which is itself designed (to some extent) to encourage users towards the full version.

You could certainly request that the team includes non-Western tonalities in the cut-down products.


As with other product decisions, it is up to the developers to make decisions. There is no democracy here.

For Western music, quarter-tone support is an advanced technique and this likely influenced the decision to limit quarter-tone support to Dorico Pro. Considering the world music use of quarter tones, there is an argument that this support should be added to Elements or even to SE.

Ultimately, it is a marketing decision what finishes up in which tier.

Exactly. If not Pro, at least Elements. In fact, Elements would be THE place for this feature, since (I could be mistaken here, please correct me if I’m wrong) there’s not much need for condensing, advanced engraving options (unless someone wants to write an oud method for example) and other features that Pro is packed with in such mainly homophonic music.

So, I don’t find this discussion completely irrational. The feature is complete. For “western” (what does this even mean… anyway) users it’s an exotic feature that can be mentioned casually in a discussion, “…yeah Dorico Pro is great, oh it also supports non 12/octave tonality systems if you have a use for it…”, but for those that day 0 of their occupation with music demands that these sounds can be notated, the first question is “But does it support our tonality system?” with great excitement and anticipation.

Sure, companies freely decide what they want to do with their products. But there’s no harm discussing this, because this is a niche feature for most, but this niche has the potential to widen into a canyon. Steinberg can do (or possibly have already done) their research and see if that’s true or not. In the eastern meditteranean and the middle east we surely have a use for this feature. The question is if Dorico Pro has sold as much as it could in these regions, and whether tonality support in a lower product tier like SE or Elements could translate into future Pro upgrades that would otherwise never happen.

The problem with this discussion, I fear, is that no matter where they draw the line in the sand, someone will always find a reason to complain about where the threshold is placed. You want a quartertone accidental (actually, a custom key signature based on the first link shared above) but the next person also wants one feature that is hidden in engrave mode. Somebody else wants to adjust page templates to include a token that isn’t baked into the defaults, etc. etc. I’m not sure that the team sharing their particular reasoning behind any choice will comfort anyone, frankly. The fact of the matter is, as with all things in life, each user needs to assess their own needs, and then purchase the tier of product that will service those needs. It’s the same with everything in life, if we are being honest. If you really want the car with heated seats, you have to buy the next trim level up. That’s just the way of things.

That qualifier out of the way, it’s not unreasonable to request the team to reconsider on the basis that this particular thing is fundamental to non-western music systems. Very well. But I think it fair for them to decline the request, if it is not feasible to permit this addition without also unlocking a whole other set of features which they prefer to keep reserved.


If the Dorico Team had not considered this request before, I would imagine that they will try to assess the market for this feature at the Elements level to see if allowing it makes business sense. We know the Team is responsive to user ideas even if not all of them end up in the products as we might wish.

Thank you @David_W ,
Your first sentence is similar to my original message’s first sentence, so we agree.
You are right that “for Western music, quarter-tone support is an advanced technique”, or more exactly like @ggmanestraki wrote “an exotic feature”.
But, it is expected from a score notation software to work with various music styles: classical music, baroque, rock&roll, funk, reggae, latin, jazz, waltzes, marches, etc., and also arabic music, which is very popular, of course in all Middle East, but also in Europe and America (there are arabic music schools in Europe and America!).
It doesn’t make sense that if you want to work with a specific style of music you need a pro version although your level is very basic. It’s like if Jazz specific notation features were available only in pro, because most users don’t use it for jazz. Would it make sense?! A fortiori Arabic and Turkish music which are more world popular than Jazz music.

Therefore, I didn’t aim to open a specific request for quarter flats, but rather to give one example of nonsense.
Also I thought that my comparison with orchestral music has an answer: It’s not really useful because it’s now possible to write for an unlimited number of players, but cues are still limited to the pro version. Is it really possible to write a score for 25 players without using cues?

It is perfectly possible to write for a full orchestra without using any cues at all. But cues can be helpful, especially when the music is unfamiliar to the players and rehearsal time is short.

Thank you @Romanos
You totally misunderstood me, so I won’t respond to all your words.
You compared to cars. The comparison is like this: A car manufacturer has created a car with several models: a low-cost model, a medium-cost model, and a high-cost model. But for England and Japan where the steering wheel is on the right side, it only produces the high model.
The parable makes more sense than our case, because the car manufacturer should really produce special cars for England and Japan.