Unintuitive User Interface

I love the power of Dorico, but you folks have really succeeded in creating a user interface that is even less intuitive than Sibelius.

Take a bow! I didn’t think it was possible.

That’s a very constructive statement.

Some of us do find the interface intuitive or, at least, useful and well designed. I suggest that you point out which areas of the application are less intuitive to you. Otherwise, nobody is going to guess them and no improvement can be made.


If you mean you can’t just sit in front of the screen and work out what everything does, then you might have a point.

But, if you take the time to read the excellent and thorough documentation, or watch some of the many superb videos, then you may find that it’s one of the most well-thought-out, consistent and productive UIs.


Gotta love that new “mute” feature. Lifesaver.


As my friend the computer musician Carla Scaletti says, “intuitive” often means “something you learned a long time ago.” After using both Finale and Sibelius for years, I have really come to admire Dorico’s design.


Once you get to know it, it’s great and very fast.

Until you get to know it, everything seems difficult to do and hard to understand.

But there is method behind it. I found it was well worth working through the initial difficulties - it really is faster to do things in Dorico than Sibelius in my experience.

Plus the results need far less manual adjustment, sometimes none, and the quality of output is higher.


This is so true.


:roll_eyes: here we go again!

Honestly - I wrote similar things as my first post on this forum (perhaps a little more constructive though no less acerbic).

It is quite different to other notation apps and although it’s not iPhone-level intuitive, I can assure you it is worth learning how to use it. The less intuitive parts of it are there for very good reasons believe me.

If you can stick with it, I assure you it’ll all become clear.

Also I’ll say that the team very much know about the issue (it’s pretty much a trope, especially if you’ve been watching certain YouTube reviews). Dorico 4 has quite a few improvements on that side.



Ok, so I guess I’d better elaborate.

I use Dorico occasionally - I wrote eight vocal charts with it a couple of years ago, and have just returned to doing some more.

I am literally having to look up absolutely everything that I’m trying to do - from adding extra bars (Shift-B and then a number), changing the main font (have to change it in fonts and paragraphs in project settings I think), changing the title (I forget), deleting bars (Shift-B then a negative number - even the most die-hard of you can’t claim that’s intuitive!), adding second and third lyric lines (Clicking verse 1 and then the down arrow), making a first time bar into a first and second time bar (I can’t even remember what wild shortcut key that was), setting up voices with anything but the ‘Soprano’ etc standard names (left click for a context menu (!), then edit-name, I think), deleting the random ‘Flow 1’ text that appears on everything as standard (can’t remember how I did that), hunting out the weird little context panel at the bottom of the screen, figuring out that Shift-N is to input new notes, but it doesn’t start where it was already selected, and defaults to crotchet even though I had quaver selected - if I accidentally press Ctrl-N then it opens a new chart with no obvious way to return to the chart I was working on. There’s also a weird feature that, if I accidentally double click then I can’t exit note input mode unless I insert a note, press Shift-N, and then delete said note (perhaps I’m missing something, but where do I even start looking for help on that?!?) Moving a note up or down (alt-arrow, or shift-alt-arrow for chromatic). Without knowing the shortcut keys, I can find very few of these in menus etc.

Literally everything I’ve tried to do, I have had to search for help.

I used Sibelius for years, and got gradually used to its strange foibles, with a similar learning curve, but Dorico is really not for the feint-hearted, and for occasional users such as me, the learning and retention curve is massive.

Once I start to remember the range of shortcut keys, it is an extremely powerful piece of software, and I used Sibelius really intensively for a few years so knew all the shortcut keys in my sleep, but today has been wildly frustrating. Admittedly it didn’t begin well when I tried adding a video to Flow 1 only for it to continually crash on me, and perhaps my frustration was kicked off by that.

Yes, it is a great piece of software. Yes its features are incredibly powerful, and the speed that a regular user can work with the software is amazing, but for occasional users who don’t want to watch heaps of tutorials over and over again, the user interface is extremely unintuitive.

My viewpoint, and I can see that I’ve annoyed lucas_r_r etc, but surely I can’t be the only person who feels this way.

oh, and I forgot to mention the messing about trying to figure out that Dorico had used ASIO to hijack all the audio on my computer - that took an hour because, well, where do you look for help on that?

Dorico also seems to ignore any computer volume settings too - again, I’m sure there is a good reason, but…

No it’s quite common for people to feel frustrated to start with - and some people stop using it at this stage. It’s up to you to decide if you want to persevere.

My experience of persevering was that it was worth it, and I would not go back to Sibelius if you paid me. YMMV.


Rob, I’m sorry you’ve found the experience frustrating. I’d be interested to check out any crash logs that were produced by the crashes you experienced – if you do Help > Create Diagnostic Report and attach the zip file here, I could take a look.

Also, it should be possible to get other applications to be able to use your soundcard at the same time as Dorico: please consult the troubleshooting video for help:

You may find it necessary to try another ASIO driver if your computer’s sound hardware doesn’t properly support ASIO: FlexASIO is a good option to try.

Likewise Richard, I’m not going back to Sibelius.

I remember using Dorico last time, and remember that it’s an extremely good piece of software once I get past the initial lunacy.

I shall press on… and get searching for how to change the default midi sounds for the instruments, cos I can’t figure it out…

Well, no… you’re not.

Well yes. Like Sibelius, it’s an application for a highly specific and niche job that requires a lot of knowledge about theory, tools etc. I’m reminded of Maya 3D - I used to dabble in it when I was a teenager and found it fun, but I forget that it took me days to learn how to build even simple models. I open up a modern copy of Maya and I am completely lost. I have no idea how it works - it might as well be an alien language to me.

So, maybe use it more? My feeling is that once you understand why something works as it does, all the answers pour out, or by then you’ve memorised enough not to care…

Oddly the answer to this is the most basic computer concept there is - press escape! To escape Note input!

Ah, another classic computer paradigm “New File”. Close the close box

This is the biggest leap certainly.

Hope you get to grips with it more. Should also say that I feel your pain - it’s frustrating when you feel you’re good at something, especially if you’ve been doing it one way for so long, to then be brought down to got-to-read-the-manual level!



I was doing much more engraving when Dorico was first released but after about a year, much less with many months or perhaps a year between sessions. I do feel like you Rob, not remembering how to do things, but I keep a piece of paper next to me with the commands and where things are for the next time; the list is grows each time. I have to go to this forum, videos and the Version history which is quite succinct with everything in one place, otherwise the manual (which to me can be frustrating, being split up into small fragments for any single topic). I feel the problem for me is not Dorico, but more, the lack of time I have spent with it.

I know it can get very frustrating. I came from Sibelius also. However I persist, I have taken to doing very small projects from time to time, not for any real purpose except to remember how Dorico works. I really like Dorico and won’t be moving away from it. This forum is outstanding for support and each update quite amazing in the thought behind the new features.

Not a massive leap to think that Shift-N would do it, given that works in every other context.

I managed to get it working fine, by un-checking the ‘grant sole control’ box in the ASIO device - it was just a frustration on top of lots of other frustrations. Makes perfect sense, once you know where to look.

I shall create a diagnostic report for the video import though if you’re able to look at it. I’m expecting to do a lot of transcribing and access to an audio (video) track within Dorico will be really useful.

Thanks for the helpful and comprehensive response, particularly on your day off.

A story I have told a couple of times here over the years, and which I will repeat now, is that I came to Sibelius from Encore (no wonder I’m getting old!). I used the test version of Sibelius, and I simply couldn’t make sense of it at first. After a couple of weeks of frustration, I gave up. A year later, I tried again: the penny dropped and I understood the new paradigms after another week of work and practice. I then became an inveterate Sibelius fan. This really helped me, 18 years later, when I switched to Dorico, which is now the only software I use. But I tell this story to illustrate that Sibelius, often touted as easy to learn, was not at all “intuitive” for me at first. “Intuitive” is a very fuzzy word. I realize it’s often the only word we can use, but it can easily be misunderstood.

I remember the urge to gnaw off my own arms and legs getting to grips with Sibelius. A lecturer once told me that “it’s common sense, but only once someone has taught you it.”

Less gnawing perhaps with Dorico… or maybe just different gnawing.

I’ve spent my whole career working with software engineers, and Dorico (as Sibelius) looks a bit like what emerges when you lock software engineers in a room on their own for a while - great, yes, but also a little nuts.

I think there’s quite a difference between learning Dorico if you haven’t used any notation software before, and coming over from Sib/Fin etc. Two things make the latter much more difficult:

(1) You have to not only “unlearn” how to do certain things in music notation, but the whole philosophy about where you go in the program or the order that you approach the problem might be totally different, which then makes it seem “counterintuitive”, even really it’s just “counter” to how the other app you used did that thing.

(2) You have a level of proficiency in using the other app, and so knowing that something took you several hours (because of all of the stopping and RTFM-ing) instead of 15 minutes makes it feel like this app is much much slower, or less intuitive, when actually it’s just you learning something new.

This is what stopped me using D for production work for a while - I knew I needed to wait until I had time to do the slow learning. I’ve done that now and don’t see a reason to go back.

But I used to work for Sibelius, and we used to get a lot of Fin users telling us the same thing - it’s so unintuitive, it’s so slow, etc. “Unlearning” is annoying. Also, I’d like Dorico to have tooltips on EVERY button, just sayin’. :rofl: