Thursday, 21 May 2015

Version 2.11 - Release Notes

Drum Score Editor version 2.11 is here! 

Summary

The major changes are as follows:
  • Text tags for any musical element
  • Space bar to jump to next bar
  • Increase or decrease a note's duration
  • Backstick note head notation
  • Additional licensed productivity features

Text Tags

Text can be attached to each note, rest or bar line (i.e. any element) on a staff. Select the element that is to have the text attached to it and use ctrl-t to add or delete the text entry. The advantage of text tags over the current ability to add text areas anywhere on the page is that they stay aligned with the element they're attached to. This means when an additional staff line is added or removed, the text tag moves with the note, rest or bar line it's attached to. Similarly if you move that element along the staff line, cut, copy or paste it, the text moves with it.

A text tag can be aligned around the element it's attached to. By clicking inside the text tag and using the Format -> Text menu, all the text formatting options can be applied. By selecting Align Left, the text tag starts with the first character above the element. Selecting Align Right causes the text tag to finish above the element. Align Centre does as expected, with the text tag centred over the element. 

The text is styled using the same menu options, once again click inside the text tag and use the Format -> Text menu options to apply bold, italic or underline styling, change the font between serif or sans-serif, and alter the point size between the pre-selected sizes.

The last option is to be able to position the text either above or below the element it's attached to. Click inside the text tag and use the Alt and UP or DOWN arrow together to move it above or below. Currently the distance above or below the staff line is fixed, but the capability is in the software to add actions to customize the distance in future versions.

Spacebar

One of the navigation features requested by power users was to have a key sequence that skipped the cursor in a music area to the next bar. While editing a music area, the space bar can now be used to move to the next bar line.

The cursor is placed at the start of the first note in the next bar, if the next bar is empty it's placed at the very start of the bar. This means that when the next bar line is the last one on the line, and the next line has space for an anacrusis which isn't used, the cursor stays on the bar line at the end of that line. If there is an anacrusis, the cursor is placed at the start of it's first note.

Increase / Decrease Note Duration

A note's duration can be halved or doubled using this new feature. Select the note and use shift-n to half it's duration, shift-m to increase it.

The value in this feature is that once a note has been entered on the staff line, maybe had grace notes added, back beaming set as required, text tags added and eventually it's realised the note should have been a demisemiquaver instead of a semiquaver this can now be changed without having to delete the note, insert the correct one and start the process of adding the grace notes etc again.

For the technically minded, halving the duration of a note adds an extra tail to the stem, doubling the duration of a note is the same as removing a tail from the stem.

Backstick Note Notation

A note can now be indicated as being a backstick by selecting it and using shift-b to toggle the note head style between regular notation and the backstick symbol. Drum Score Editor can now be used for drummers salute or fanfare scribing.

The choice was made to indicate backsticking by altering the note head rather than adding another symbol above the note to specify the backstick, as there's already too many ways to clutter the space above a note, resulting in a less legible score.

Licensed Productivity Features

As introduced in release 2.00, Drum Score Editor takes a large portion of any spare time I have, and despite the passion I have for creating and refining it, I can't ignore the mounting costs for developer licenses, signing certificates, toolsets and the like. You can help by registering at https://www.drumscore.scot and obtaining a license key in return for 15 of our British pounds.

Applying the license key unlocks a number of productivity features as a thank you for your financial assistance! The full list of timesaving and enabling features now unlocked is:
  • Rudiment Libraries
  • Export as PDF
  • Export as JPEG (new for 2.11)
  • Export as PNG (new for 2.11)
  • Export as SVG (new for 2.11)
  • Clone staff line (new for 2.11)
  • 1st and 2nd Time Workflow (new for 2.11)
  • Workspace Preferences

Rudiment Libraries

These appear on the left hand side of the workspace and allow frequently used rudiments and phrases to be dragged from scores and dropped into different lists.

Each list is a new Rudiment Libraries, and can be used according to the score author's preference. For example to store phrases from similar time signature together or perhaps different tune styles. This feature maps perfectly to the rudimental style of drumming and allows very fast score composition to an author's personal style.

To add a new Rudiment Library, use the View -> New Rudiment Library option. From the View menu you can also open an existing rudiment library, perhaps sent from a friend or saved on disk elsewhere, or close a library from the list open in the rudiment tool space.

Export as PDF

This has been a common request, especially for Microsoft Windows users as they don't have a native PDF creation capability, unlike the Apple Mac where it's built in. Even on the Mac though this feature saves a number of keystrokes to access the print dialogs and save as PDF.

Export as JPG

This feature allows the whole score to be saved as a jpeg compressed picture, with a solid white background. This is a useful option for creating images for websites or adding to other documents

Export as PNG

Similar to the JPG export, this feature allows the whole score to be saved as a png compressed picture, but with a transparent background. This is a useful option for creating images for websites, adding to other documents or even maybe sending to printers to have a score rendered on a t-shirt or other media!

Export as SVG

This feature allows the whole score to be saved as a scalable vector graphics file, with a solid white background. This is a useful option for producing high quality images that don't lose quality as they're scaled. This is much more useful for advanced web site images, and allows printers or others to retain the quality of the score if for example scaled to fit a larger surface.

Clone Staff Line

Accessed via the Format -> Staff menu, this feature clones the line that the cursor is on. It's a shortcut for inserting a line, copying all the notes and bar lines from the source line, moving to the target and pasting them. With this there's no checking to see if Edit -> Bars is on or not in order to be able to copy the whole content.

1st & 2nd Time Workflow

This is the first workflow which analyses the content of the score to make decisions about what actions to take. It's purpose is to simplify the process of taking an ending line to a part and creating a 2nd time, where the author might want a different setting. This workflow takes care of the "admin" around doing that.

If the cursor is placed on a staff line, which as a double repeat close bar marker at the end of it, and the workflow is triggered from the Format -> Music menu, it will create a 2nd time for that line, by inserting a new staff line underneath it, copying all the contents of the line down, removing any unison markings and switching the bar marker at the end of the line to one that doesn't contain repeat markers.

It also adds a text tag to the first element of the repeated line saying "2nd Time" and similarly adds a text tag to mark "1st Time" on the first element of the first time line.

If the the cursor is placed on a 2nd time line as created above and the workflow is triggered, it will remove the second line and the "1st Time" text tag from the line above, effectively toggling off the 2nd time line. Any changes made to the 2nd time line are lost, with the exception that like all actions in Drum Score Editor undo will put it back.

Workspace Preferences

When Drum Score Editor exits, it remembers the size and location of the main window, and if you docked the Rudiment Libraries and Note Toolbox on opposite sides of the screen - some people prefer that!

Bug Fixes

Too many to be useful to list here. Some of the more recent ones are:
  • Export as PDF now correctly renders the unison shading and other colour transparency, and aligns the scores correctly for landscape and portrait.
  • Bar lines not sizing correctly causing them to be dropped when copying / pasting multiple selections.
  • If a triplet or any other tied group starts or end with a rest as the first or last element, the score will note load after being saved, appearing as if it's lost the edits or sometime preventing the score file loading at all.
  • Text cut, copy, paste not being enabled on the menus sometimes when a text areas has the keyboard focus.
  • Text format menu not being disabled when a text area loses keyboard focus.