Annual Notation Software Survey

Recommendations concerning notation and publishing software in a non-partisan environment.
benwiggy
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Annual Notation Software Survey

Post by benwiggy » 15 Aug 2019, 17:02

The website "Composer's Toolbox" has released its annual notation software survey, which makes for interesting reading.

https://composerstoolbox.com/2019/08/06 ... -software/

The data's not well-presented, but there are some interesting facts.

48% of Sibelius users surveyed are thinking of switching to another program; 87% of them are considering Dorico. 23% of Finale users are thinking of a switch, with 86% considering Dorico.

Reasons to leave Finale are first and foremost "Bugs". Curious that "Changes/updates made to software that are not desirable" beats "Not enough features". There have hardly been any major changes in 10 years - and not that many features either!

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David Ward
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Re: Annual Notation Software Survey

Post by David Ward » 16 Aug 2019, 06:18

I suspect (but I may be wrong) that the switch from Sibelius to Dorico seems less daunting than the switch from Finale.

As long as Finale remains functional, I suspect I'll stick with it despite the many frustrations. I suppose if no professional copyists/engravers were willing to work on composers' scores in Finale, I might be forced to change; but I think we are a long way from there.
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Schonbergian
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Re: Annual Notation Software Survey

Post by Schonbergian » 16 Aug 2019, 20:25

Dorico also fixes more un-fixable issues with Sibelius's notation than Finale's, and to my knowledge the design philosophies are more similar as well.

benwiggy
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Re: Annual Notation Software Survey

Post by benwiggy » 17 Aug 2019, 12:11

I've not used Sibelius at all, but former Sib users do point out that Dorico's philosophy and interface are considerably different. "Forget everything you know" is a common phrase on the Dorico forum.

I'd say that Dorico fixes every problem with Finale's notation that would regularly trouble me; though of course everything in Finale is fixable: it's just more work.

I can appreciate that for many, they can achieve the results they want with Finale, and the need for change is minimal.

Schonbergian
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Re: Annual Notation Software Survey

Post by Schonbergian » 17 Aug 2019, 12:41

What I meant by that is that Finale is more of a tweaker's software, whereas Dorico is focused on giving you the best possible experience out of the box and generally behaving more like a computerized engraver than a music notation tool.

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John Ruggero
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Re: Annual Notation Software Survey

Post by John Ruggero » 17 Aug 2019, 15:04

According to the article, Finale seems to have a new lease on life, with a lower attrition rate this year that in the last. I for one was eager and ready to switch to Dorico, but its limitations made this impossible. Apparently there are many like me waiting for increased capability and flexibility.
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benwiggy
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Re: Annual Notation Software Survey

Post by benwiggy » 17 Aug 2019, 18:08

Saying "Not as many people seem to want to abandon it quite yet" is damning with faint praise! Though it's certainly true that Dorico has many limitations that rule it out for many people.

Version 3 is eagerly awaited by its users and users of other software. Likewise Finale 26.2...!

OCTO
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Re: Annual Notation Software Survey

Post by OCTO » 21 Aug 2019, 06:38

A very interesting link, thank you benwiggy!
benwiggy wrote:
15 Aug 2019, 17:02
48% of Sibelius users surveyed are thinking of switching to another program; 87% of them are considering Dorico. 23% of Finale users are thinking of a switch, with 86% considering Dorico.
What I understand is this as well as you: Sibelius is sold/used much more than Finale, many schools buy it regularly, and it is more widespread. Therefore many new users are jumping on/of. With Finale there is a core of users who feel safe in Finale, and many hi-level engravers that are power users. Therefore, in Finale we see less new users that create a more stable group who can go with Finale as long as possible.

I am a Finale user since 2000. And I have the licenses for Sibelius since 2011 - but used only twice(!). In my case the problem right now is not my use of Finale, but ease to find a good engraver that can help me. I had a really hard time to find quality engravers in Finale a year ago. I guess I could do even more beautiful score in LilyPond (or wait, in MuseScore!) but the fact is that often I need to collaborate with others or edit by myself. Using LilyPond would be great but a) difficult to find engravers in deadline situations b) I can't LilyPond and I would be blind forever to edit my score by myself.
And the last thing is that Dorico at this level cannot do things that I need: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=452

Unfortunately, many (="not all") arrangers/copyists/engravers understand "quality = speed". They switch because of the speed.
With the magnetic layout in Sibelius I could see many very ugly looking scores; almost by default it is impossible to use that feature constantly, but yet many people use it in that way. On the contrary, with Finale you can get immediately a very ugly score by default, that a blind man could find it problematic, therefore you have to sit down and fix your score immediately. Sibelius users tend to mark scores "done" much quicker and without properly editing the score. The true engraving/editing is to (be able to) use software as it is with automatic all (magnetic) and without it completely.

I am still looking forward to see more complex scores (full, large orchestral) done in Dorico. Not "beethoven" but "respighi" type. You can find very complex scores done in Finale and in Sibelius, not in Dorico. And having a very complex texture means having many parts of the software's engine interwoven, that may result in bugs. My Wordpad doesn't have any bugs, but Office can sometimes collapse.
With Dorico I think that they still have problem between number of new users and features. It seems for me that the first is more important right now for them. To many arrangers and producers are recommending the software, not high-profiled engravers and contemporary composers. It stared with discussions with E Gould and making new fonts from old music libraries, and now aligning more toward motion pictures/film/stage music, soul orchestra arrangements etc. -- this turns an orange lamp for me. Does E Gould use Dorico for Ades or Hillborg?

I really, really need a very good notation software. :)
Freelance Composer. Self-Publisher.
Finale 25.5 • Sibelius 2019 • MuseScore 2+3 • Logic Pro X • Ableton Live 9+10 • Digital Performer 9 /// OS X El Capitan, (side system: Debian 9, Windows 10)

hautbois baryton
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Re: Annual Notation Software Survey

Post by hautbois baryton » 22 Aug 2019, 23:59

I have to agree with Octo - I haven't seen any large scores coming out of Dorico.

Last time I tested Dorico, after 32 measures of a relatively simple quartet of single line instruments there were far too many basic notational errors that I simply could not overlook. Having to repeatedly fix really basic note, rest, and beaming issues would drive me absolutely insane and slow my work to a crawl.
Composer and engraver

dspreadbury
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Re: Annual Notation Software Survey

Post by dspreadbury » 23 Aug 2019, 10:22

Chester Music in the UK have published a piano concerto by Cheryl Frances-Hoad in Dorico, and another new work (a choral piece) will shortly be published using Dorico. Boosey and Hawkes in Berlin have published an opera by Leonard Evers with all performance materials originated in Dorico. The first Dorico-originated work will enter the Edition Peters catalogue this autumn. The Finnish publisher Fennica Gehrman is using Dorico for all of its new keyboard editions.

I would be interested to hear what kind of basic notational errors you're seeing in Dorico. I would very much hope that the things you consider to be errors are easily overcome by changing some of the hundreds of options we provide across the application. But please let me know if not – we take the feedback of professional composers, arrangers and engravers very seriously and are striving to produce the best possible tool for musicians of every stripe.

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