Some features I dislike

1- I have always had a nervous clicking finger so tend to double click accidentally. For this I have one of my mouse buttons programmed as an ESC shortcut. This is fine in most circumstances, but in Dorico I found that when I’m working on the Engraving mode and I accidentally double click it jumps to Write mode. Doesn’t this defeat the purpose of having different modes? It should lock into that mode until I click on the appropriate button to change mode again… Me thinks.

2- The score doesn’t follow the playback line, despite having “follow notehead” in settings.

3- Every XML import gives me errors, it does import (most of the time), but it does many strange things like: call a tenor trombone a C trombone or a C guitar. Empty instruments are not displayed in the score, despite showing up in Setup and Play modes. Tempo lines (accel, rit.) are all over the place and on top of each other. These are tests from Staffpad, Overture and a Sibelius plugin from the Music XML website trying both XML and MXL formats.

4- the licensing system is fine for Cubase, after all it’s a studio software that relies on lots of hardware and power. But a notation program is a completely different beast and as so it is used in very different circumstances. My Cubase has always lived in my Desktop with lots of fancy libraries, plugins, etc. But notation softwares have always had shared custody: a copy on the Desktop for big publishing or demo works and another one on my laptop/tablet for everyday writing or rehearsals where I need to do changes on the spot. I understand I can move the USB around, but there are many cons to this for a professional: the possibility of losing a small thing like that, breaking it because of constant back-and-forth. My tablet only has one port, which I obviously need for the printer. Should I first print a PDF so then I can actually print the parts? This makes no sense and Steinberg should certainly rethink its licensing for this particular software.

5- no zoom out on print mode. I need to see the context of the whole page, not just half of it. I’ve realised that you can make all of Dorico’s window smaller to achieve this but then it truly gets tiny and we’ll… This is just not a good way of doing things.

6- in Halion if you search for an instrument when you move on to the next one your search results/filter is still there, but no so in Dorico’s Setup mode. So if I’m trying to change an orchestra’s instruments I have to search everytime. It would be useful to either have the filter remain or to be able to change a whole section, either system is fine. This useful in case of a botched XML import or for reorchestrating a work.

7- I presume the Playback mode is in early days, but why have a piano roll if it’s still not functional? It’s impossible to follow anything, there’s no zoom, the roll itself makes no sense. It would make more sense to have the score in linear (galley) view as default and if you wanted to see the piano roll you’d have to click on something.

8- finally, the transport window should have a persistent “stay on top” like in Cubase, Sibelius, etc, otherwise why bother having one if there are already controls on the top right?

To finish on a positive note, I do love where this software is heading and love the design/concept of it. I’m very much looking forward to its future development and I can certainly see myself using it exclusively one day.

I hope the team finds these observations useful!


  1. I agree it’s too easy to be taken back to Write mode. I don’t have any nervous fingers that I’m aware of (but maybe a turbo setting that’s too much even for my trackpad :slight_smile: )

  2. It was just announced that this will be recitfied in the next update…

  3. MusicXML is one of the most volatile “standards” around. Personally I think Dorico does a remarkable job of importing XMLs. It was also just confirmed that there will be options for xml imports in the next (“before the end of june”) update.

  4. This has been discussed at length since D. was launched. And YES, it’s a hassle. As is iLok. But if you love the stuff that employs these copy protection schemes you simply have to live with it. If you can get by using alternatives, you’re free to do so… OTOH, I forgot my Dorico dongle when travelling to my “composing” cottage two weeks ago, and had I been dependent on D. for my pro work at this time, it would have been a disaster… :frowning:

1.- Love it when I’m not alone on an issue!

2.- Fantastic!

3.- That, I think would solve most issues.

4.- Oh dear! Unfortunately, I do need to depend on ONE software, otherwise why bother buying it in the first place? My problem is my Sibelius 6 is obsolete and impossible to work with big orchestral works, Overture 5 is buggy as hell and have yet to be able to get even one piece of music done on it and Staffpad doesn’t have the necessary formatting capabilities. The latter solves all my writing needs, but I need something for formatting and ideally playback/demoing. I do hope they look into this, it’s a bit of a deal breaker.

On your number 3…

If you have missing staves that are showing in setup mode, but not in write or engrave modes, then it most likely means it is simply an '‘empty stave’.

Change to ‘galley’ view and you should see ALL staves. Put something in the empty stave, and it comes back in ‘page view’. On subsequent pages, if the stave would be empty for the entire system, then it’ll be hidden again. So, if you’re plugging along on a page and need to enter something in one of your hidden staves…toggle to galley view and drop something on the stave for that page/system, and it should come back to life in your write and engrave modes as well.

What’s going on here is that when you’re in Write or Engrave mode, and have ‘Page View’ enabled, Dorico auto-hides empty staves, particularly if you have multiple instruments assigned to a given player. There may be settings deeper down in Dorico to disable this behavior (not sure, but it would make sense), but it’s pretty standard policy to drop a stave for a system/page if there’s nothing in it; thus, the default behavior.

Hi Brian, thank you for your comment. Unfortunately I had already tried to look in other places and it doesn’t show up on Galley view either.

In any case it should always be visible in Write mode, after all I’m writing…! I’ll decide when and where I want to put a note in. I shouldn’t need to put “something” on the first bar if the instrument doesn’t come in till bar 30.

I appreciate your time anyway.

In Setup mode, make sure all the instruments and players are included in the flow you are working on.

Possibly the program that created the MusicXML file doesn’t export staves that are completely empty. AFAIK all the staves should be displayed in Galley view, even if they are empty.

If you can attach the Dorico and the MusicXML files, somebody might be able to see what the problem is, or tell you if this is a bug in Dorico. Make a .zip file if the forum won’t let you attach the MusicXML file directly.

An empty staff won’t “always” be visible in Page view in Write mode, if you are hiding empty staves. If it was displayed, the Page view of the score would look different in Write mode and Engrave mode (and might even have a different number of systems on each page for example) which would be very confusing!

If you want to see all the staves including the empty ones, change to Galley view.

The forthcoming update introduces an option for this in Preferences.

This will also be included in the forthcoming update.

As Rob and others have pointed out, if you have the layout option for hiding empty staves set (on the Vertical Spacing page of Layout Options), then empty staves won’t show in page view, but they will appear in galley view.

As for errors with MusicXML import more generally, you need to be more specific about the errors you’re seeing, and you need to provide examples of files that cause problems. Dorico only reports errors during import when there genuinely are errors in the MusicXML files that mean they are invalid, i.e. they deviate from what the MusicXML schema specifies as valid MusicXML. It’s possible for schema-valid MusicXML files to be musically nonsensical as well, of course, but in general Dorico doesn’t report errors here.

These arguments have been rehearsed many times here on the forum. As I’ve said before, I don’t expect the current situation with Dorico’s licensing to be the situation forever, and we are always working on improvements to our licensing technology that balance our business needs and the value of our customers’ investments in our software.

Print mode is not intended for this kind of operation: in the fullness of time what I hope we will have is a simple keypress you can use to hide all “invisibles” and see how the music will look when printed in either Write or Engrave mode, which provide proper navigation, zooming, and so on. The print preview control in Print mode is not suitable for this more general kind of navigation.

Generally you need type only the first couple of letters of the desired instrument’s name and it will come right up.

You can zoom in Play mode, using the same Z/X shortcuts you use in the other modes. I don’t know in what way you consider the piano roll to not make sense, since it simply shows the notes in each voice for each instrument. And although not many editing operations are yet possible in the piano roll editor, you can lengthen and shorten notes by dragging their left- or right-hand ends. More functionality will be added to Play mode in each successive update.

Hi Daniel, thank you very much for your answer, but you shouldn’t be answering me on a Sunday, it’s a beautiful day out there!

3.- XML issues are not a deal breaker and I’ve found several workarounds, however they do not appear in Galley view.

5.- I didn’t mean elaborate navigation, simply zoom out to see the whole page on the monitor, that would be sufficient.

7.- Sorry, I should’ve been more specific, I meant vertical zoom. This is what Dorico looks like:
Dorico piano roll.JPG
And this is what it should look like:
Dorico piano roll.JPG
In any case, I’m convinced with my very short test of this application and I will buy it, just not this version. I will wait for some very neccesary features to be present first.

Congratulations and looking forward to further development.
Cubase Piano Roll.JPG

in Play mode, if you drag the separator between staves on the left (see image) then you can expand vertically. But it doesn’t yet remember your settings so it’s not very useful at the moment.

Also, you cam pan vertically by dragging the keyboard.

I wonder if Bollen meant a “universal” piano roll that plots out, on a single roll, all the notes. That would be an interesting feature to add.

I tried that for ages and couldn’t get it to work… It was the obvious thing to do, but somehow my mouse was just not picking up on it.

You have to hover your mouse over that separator until it turns into a drag icon.

Is this still the only way to vertically expand the view of the Piano Roll editor in Play Mode? I have to say that I find this highly unituitive (hovering your mouse over an ambigious black area). Is there some way to do the same thing via a Key Command that I’m not seeing?

And +1 for letting “Z” and X" also zoom in/out in Print View. This is the last stage before printing so I’d simply like to see the whole page as I do a final check (nothing too complicated navigation-wise). It also feels strange for Z and X NOT to work here as it does elsewhere (at least to me).

Best and thanks -

  • dj