Spacing offset property for Clef, Key and Time signature

clef, time signature, spacing offset bug?

When I change the value of Spacing offset property for Clefs and Time Signatures, the way those symbols move does not seem to be correct. Isn’t this a bug?
On the other hand, the Spacing offset for Key Signatures works fine.
clef, time signature, spacing offset bug?.dorico (367.2 KB)

This works as expected, inasmuch as it is provided so that you can move the clef leftwards. If you want to move everything to the right, you should adjust the position of the spacing column for the note to the right of the clef, not the clef’s offset. Because a small rightwards adjustment might be necessary, we don’t prevent you from increasing the offset above zero, but negative values are more useful.

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Thanks for your response.
It was Spacing Offset property, not Common Offset property, that I changed. Even then, is it correct that the positions of these symbols exceed the positions of surrounding items (in my case, notes)?

The GIF below shows the opposite situation, where the Spacing Offset property is set to negative values. In this case, the Time signature and Key signature move beyond items in the previous rhythmic position. Is this also the correct behavior?
spacing offset negative value

I’m not sure how this Spacing Offset property affects the spacing of items.

In addition, I found a strange behavior in time signature case.
For the time signature, changing the Spacing offset only causes the time signature to move graphically. However, as soon as I activate the other property (in my GIF below, Hide bar number and Common Offset) in the properties panel , the spacing around the time signature changes. Isn’t this strange?
time signature strange behavior spacing offset

Not really. Why would I want to do what you are trying to do?


Eh, you’ve assigned the meter to beat one, so if you offset it to the right, you’re gonna get a large gap. If you offset it that far to the left, it’s sort of nonsensical, so it’s not surprising Dorico doesn’t know what to do with it.

The thing that mildly annoys me is the fact that if you assign a meter where you initially have moved it to, then you end up with an incomplete bar:

Dorico typically doesn’t allow “incorrect” notation, so the fact that it’s so easy to create an incomplete bar seems a bit against Dorico’s typical ethos. There’s a balance to be struck certainly between flexibility and “correctness,” but the fact that there’s not any sort of warning or proofreading mechanism here has always been a bit worrisome to me.

Yes, it’s “correct” inasmuch as it’s what happens, but it’s not necessarily useful. As I say, we make it possible to set a small positive offset value so that you can bring these items closer to the following notes if you wish. The offset is added to (or subtracted from) the nominal width of the column as an extent, so that is why more rhythmic space is allocated, but because the clef is considered to be on the left rather than on the right, it will not be considered for collision avoidance with items to the right.

The reason that key and time signatures behave differently to clefs is that clefs are attached to notes, and have an impact on the overall size of the left-hand extent of those spacing columns, while key and time signatures are spaced rightwards.

It is indeed (on its face) incorrect that the effect on the overall spacing is not recalculated immediately when you offset a key or time signature. I will check this with my colleagues in the team.

Thanks for your thoughts.

The incomplete bar you pointed out may be an “incorrect” notation. However, I think if a rest is automatically inserted just before the time signature, it may not be desirable in some musical situations, even if the bar become complete. So I thought it would be left to the user to decide what to do with these incomplete bars.
However, I think it would be useful to have a mechanism like you mentioned to inform users of incomplete bars.

Thanks for explanations.

Is this “the nominal width of the column as an extent” referring to this range?

The nominal width of the column is the ideal amount of space allocated to a particular rhythmic value. So in your diagram, it would be the distance between the dashed line with the filled handle corresponding to the start of the quarter note and the following dashed line on the next quarter note.

For the purposes of collision avoidance, this width can be extended left or right if there are items such as clefs, jazz articulations, accidentals, rhythm dots etc. that should not be allowed to collide with the preceding or ensuing spacing column.

I think I’m starting to understand the significance of the Spacing offset property. Thanks.
I’ve come to understand that the Spacing offset property is useful in situations where the notes are somewhat dense, such as when the insertion of a clef between notes expands the normal rhythmic spacing (i.e. nominal width). In such a case, we can add spaces between the clef and the note immediately following it by using Spacing offset property, inputting negative values to it. On the other hand, if we want to add spaces to the left of the clef, we can do it by changing the width of the spacing column in Note Spacing mode, as you mentioned earlier.
clef spacing offset and note spacing mode

Thank you for checking this. Indeed, the key signature also does not reflect Spacing offset value immediately when it is in normal position (i.e. next to the barline).
normal key signature spacing offset bug

In addition, there is one more behavior that I find strange.
When I change the value of Cancellation naturals spacing offset, nothing happens. Isn’t this a bug?
Cancellation naturals X offset works fine.
cancellation naturals spacing offset

The Cancellation naturals spacing offset property is only applied when you choose the Russian style of Cancellation naturals at changes of key signature in Engraving Options. In the Russian style, the cancellation naturals appear to the left of the double barline, and this property allows you to adjust the position of the naturals relative to the following double barline.

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I understand! Thank you.