Simple requirements, how to in Dorico

It’s text based. There is no UI. Use whatever text editor you want.

Learning curve is IMMENSE compared to, well, anything, but so is power. It’s essentially a programming language. Sort of a descedant of SCORE in that respect.

It can do all kinds of obscure notation like:

Much of the power comes from the ability to reference/import other files so you could have one file that sets up all your engraving preferences, fonts, etc, and reference that in each excerpt. Similar to a library in dorico, but because the files get parsed on each run rather than being a GUI application, changes to the included files are picked up as soon as you re-run lilypond, instead of having to say, open a dorico file, wait for it to load, import settings from a library and merge them, and then re-exporting pdf.

The lilypond-book tool goes even farther, and makes embedding lilypond music in a LaTeX document completely painless , it’ll handle running lilypond behind the scenes for any files that uhave been updated, so you just run latex against your main source file and it handles everything. It’s fairly fast too… could easily render hundreds of short examples (for a textbook, say) in a couple of seconds on a modern PC.

1 Like

Thanks for that information, Romanos. I had a feeling it was there, but not actually showing. I think I remember relinking also fixed it when I first encountered this.

Dan, I assume your question is about TeX and not Lilypond.

TeX is a programming language that very few use directly. Most use various “packages” that hide TeX from the user, like LaTeX, LuaTeX etc. (Just as InDesign hide PostScript from the user.)

TeX (and therefore any “package”) is more powerful than any other text processing tool. There is nothing you cannot do, but some things are not easy to do unless you construct a macro for simple and repetitive use.

The ease you work with (La)TeX depends on the editor you use. (La)TeX is the compiler and the editor the ‘text programming tool’. (La)TeX is not a word processor, but a text processor. Other tools, such as Scrivener, are better suited than (La)TeX for the creation of a book, novel, …, but the final typesetting is always best to leave to (La)TeX.

Start looking at LaTeX, it is simple and very structured. If you want more freedom of fonts etc. look at LuaTeX. I think LaTeX was recently updated to support (even) more functions.

As many Dorico users state on these pages “Once I used Dorico I will never go back to XYZ” you will say the same once you have tried TeX. MS Word is completely useless* in comparison. AP I have never used so I cannot judge. InDesign is powerful in placing images wherever you want them and you can work very fast in it - be prepared to face some difficulties in (La)TeX with “free placement”, it can be ‘tricky’.

"* I do like the review function in Word. One of the few reasons I use Word. It is great for multi-authoring and review. Grammar check and thesaurus is also good for a ‘non-native English speaker’, although I understand that many ‘natives’ hate this Word function. Everything else in Word is more or less worthless in comparison.

Then you have Adobe FrameMaker. I don’t know where it ‘stands’ today compared to other tools. I stopped using it at version 6 when I went to LaTeX and never looked back. Perhaps you can buy FrameMaker, or it might be one of the many “subscription plans” Adobe have. It is a powerful program. DS wrote the Sibelius manual in it IIRC. Back in the day, I tested its “performance” and it first stalled at 2^16=65536 pages. I think it had to do with the data type for page numbers. I don’t know about the current version.


Thanks, very helpful!

I thought the question is about TeX, not Lilypond. There is a popular misconception that Lilypond is based on TeX, but that is not the case (I know the poster here is not saying that, but…) . It has good integration possibilities but it does not use TeX grammar or syntax.

1 Like

Dan, in addition to the aspects that @Mats_Frendahl mentioned: I stopped using Adobe products years ago so only can compare Affinity Suite with LaTex. The former is WYSIWG, the latter requires the compiler step (no problem on modern, fast computers). Be careful when using musical examples only (thinking of your hymnal design): ‘native’ LaTeX does not like endless series of figures or tables (the typesetter layout calculation will generate warnings/errors). It is designed to handle projects with significant amounts of text in between. Use additional LaTeX packages for more advanced (graphics) tricks (but be prepared to play repeatedly with parameter settings). Really fancy stuff can be done with the most flexible ConTeXt document production system (macros, built around the plain TeX engine).

In summary: I use the Affinity Suite for leaflets, brochures, catalogues, shorter documents, I prefer LaTeX for longer documents with many chapters/sections/figures/tables, where text is the dominant medium, and limited graphical layout elements.


Yeah, No. I’ve tried both LaTeX and Lillypond…

I’m quite happy scripting in python, Swift, and other languages, but with something as visual as a page of text or music, I find ‘describing it’ to be totally unnatural and laborious; whereas a WYSIWYG approach makes so much more sense.

… and the playback’s not great either!


Yes. I did a few large-ish repost/paper kind of things in college 15ish years ago in context and it was qujite pleasant. In many ways I preferred it’s just gimme what I asked for philosophy over latex’s rather rigid imposed semantics. I.e. I don’t need 8 levels of hierarchal headings, I just want a chapter head in 24pt Bold, Underlined, and a Sub-Section in 18pt Italics, inset a half inch towards the inner margin.

I think LaTeX (and variations thereof) could suit @Dan’s hymnal projects. A simple sequence of


where “hymn” is cleverly defined, will mount the music, generate a table of contents, a list of composers, a list of lyricists, an index of titles/verses etc. quite easily.

What you probably(?) are referring to are “floats” which I think Dan will never use. A hymnal has a very explicit page break definition so floats will never be an issue.

@benwiggy: I was not talking about Lilypond.

1 Like

Thanks everybody. I have too many current projects in InDesign to move away from it, I’m just interested in exploring LaTex for the occasional text-heavy project. The automatic indexing does sound interesting. At present it’s all manual.


The real beauty of LaTeX (and all its extensions) is that your files will remain simple readable text files. You’ll probably never suffer from obsolete proprietary software shortcoming. And it’s been created in the 80’s, which shows how clever the whole concept is. I’m clearly a fan of this (as many previous posts have shown) and I would have loved to see it implemented in the text part of Dorico (for lists, dialogs, table of contents…) but alas, I don’t think it’s reasonable any more to dream about that :rofl:
Especially since Tantacrul yook his unfair take on Dorico’s intuitiveness… (Let’s face it, there’s nothing intuitive about LaTeX, until you know how it works. As usual.)


I got what I need from this thread now - thanks. It’s well and truly hijacked so I go now.