Thursday, 27 October 2016

Version 2.4 Release Notes

Features

One big one really - a popup menu when you right click inside the selection. Try it, it should be really intuitive and if it's not please tell me! It's nigh on impossible to remember each of the hotkeys for different actions, as the feature list grows, this makes it much easier, takes a click or two so the hotkeys are still faster, but that's the trade-off for the ease of use.

Importantly though, what happens is the menu only enables the appropriate items depending on the content you've selected. So for example if you've selected bar lines only then it's not going to allow you to add a flam ....

The other important thing is an item on the menu is check if any of the contents of the selection are, i.e. if you select a bunch of notes and one of them is unison, the unison menu item will be checked. If you uncheck it, it will remove unison from those notes that are unison.

It's worth pausing and considering how this differs from selecting all the notes and using the 'u' key, to the button on the panel on the right. The behaviour there is toggle on or off the unison status of all the notes, i.e. those that were not unison would become unison, and those that were unison have it removed.

Having the menus behave differently is useful as it covers both needs, e.g. you've coped and pasted a bunch of notes, some of which were unison to another line, and on the other line it's a second time through so you want to remove the unison. With the toggle approach you have to select each range of unison and toggle it off, with the menu you can select the lot and just uncheck.

This was specifically requested as a feature, as was a kind of paste special which didn't paste attributes like unison - both of these are addressed this way.

Fixes

  • There wasn't any undo capability on the tie to bar end feature, there is now.
  • With the toggle keystrokes and buttons in the panel on the right, you can add a triplet over exactly the same notes that are in a regular tie - not really a need for that - I've not removed this from the keystrokes, but the menu system above stops that happening.
  • When we generated a 3/4 march score it had too many bars. Sorry, we count correctly now.
  • Common and Cut Common time signatures weren't aligning on the staff lines properly, also made the time sig and tune type text in the top left look misaligned - because it was. All fixed.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

2nd times, repeats etc


Something we all deal with in pipe band drumming is what I'm going to call "2nd times", where the melody varies the second time through a part and we as drummers need to follow suit. In traditional (your grandfathers) drum scoring tools you have to do this all yourself. Drum Score Editor has always been about being efficient from the moment you enter a note, to how you work with notes once they're there. You can get Drum Score Editor to do a lot of work for you if you work a certain way, this post is all about that for 2nd times.

You've still got the ultimate flexibility

Before we dive in let's not forget: you can do anything you like in Drum Score Editor, to manually set up different bar types, text, etc - there are no restrictions once you select Edit -> Bars. However we all want clean, easily understood music, and some conventions, or dare I say, shortcuts, we've taken as score authors in the past are, frankly difficult to sight readers and slow the learning process.

So I've put some productivity workflows in Drum Score Editor to help with 2nd times, however they are a point of view - remember you can always go and do what you like, the flexibility is there, but stick with me on this and life get's easier for everyone - you may disagree with my thinking here but please at least hear me out.

I dislike extra individual bars being jammed on a staff line and the words or lines added to say what to do. I think we've done that in the past because when we hand write scores it's a pain in the proverbials to have to go rewrite 3 identical bars so we scribble something in there. I'd rather see a complete new line drawn in and with software this is so much easier. It also helps maintain a clean, structured score where all the bar lines line up and it's easier to see the overall structure at a glance.

Let the robot do it's dance

Robots are programmed to behave in a certain way, and if the way you work matches up then the robot is adding value. Drum Score Editor is programmed to behave a certain way and I'd offer that to get the most out of it, both today and in the future (especially when playback comes in so it can understand the flow) if we work as described below, scoring life becomes easier for all!

Take a 2/4 marches where 2nd time happens a lot. When we generate the score, we put repeat bars at the beginning and end of each part, and often it's typically over 2 lines. I'd say write out your part for the first time through over those 2 lines. Then, if the melody changes in the 2nd 4 bars, you can put your cursor on the 2nd of those lines and use the Format -> Music -> Toggle 2nd Time Staff Line menu item. This triggers a workflow that automates the following:

  1. Insert new Staff Line below this one
  2. Copy and Paste all the contents of the first line to the new one
  3. Strip out any unison from any of the notes pasted (as this is 2nd time, we're all playing then)
  4. Switch the bar marker at the end of the new line, as there should be no repeat dots on the 2nd time
  5. Add a text tag to the bar marker at the beginning of the 1st line to say "1st Time"
  6. Add a text tag to the bar marker at the beginning of the new line to say "2nd Time"



Easy right? All that work done for you. Now all you need to do is alter the musical content, all the structural work is automated. This is the biggest dance this robot does at the moment, and it only does it one way.

It's a toggle type action so if you want to undo a 2nd time, put the cursor on the original line and use the same menu item - it will remove the 2nd time line and put everything back as it should be. It can only do this if you don't modify the 1st and 2nd time text tags and the repeat bar markers.

If the melody, or your score changes for example in bar 3 of your 2/4 march, before going to a second time, you've actually got 5 bars out of 8 different for each time through so I'd say don't to a second time. Remove the repeat marker at the end of bar 8 and copy paste in another 2 staff lines so it's played straight through, the forte being the 2nd set of 8 bars. The robot doesn't know how to do this for you yet, but I've done that enough times by hand now to think there's value in developing an automated workflow to help with that.


There is a debate that the above part should be written as per the image below, i.e. bar lines don't change and anacrusis belongs only at the beginning of the whole part. Research under way! If I'm going to automate it, then we should automate it correctly!


Today though there is a Format -> Music -> Clone This Staff Line workflow which inserts a new staff line below the one the cursor is on, and copies and pastes the contents there. I used that, plus the insert new staff line and, with Edit -> Bars enabled, copied and pasted the whole line down so there are still efficient ways to do this if you know how!

Do anacrusis right, and avoid some 2nd times

The other thing to get correct is anacrusis and the last bar. This will help so much in avoiding messy situations, and all I'm saying is follow the written music standard. Many will argue standards are one thing and what we do in practical terms is another, and I'm OK with that, it's just a way of communicating to each other and so long as we all understand what's meant that's good enough. But if you communicate anacrusis, or pick-up notes, in a certain way it avoids a bunch of "2nd times".

The rules implemented in Drum Score Editor with respect to 2nd times and anacrusis is that the anacrusis notes are balanced in the last bar on the 2nd time through only. Not only is this the historical musical standard, it is the easiest way if perhaps your pick-up notes into the 2nd time through vary from the 1st time. In the example below, we also illustrate the 'roll to nowhere' tie, as it 1st time through the ending varies to a roll. Select the last note and hit the 'k' key.



Steam powered PC

Steam Powered PCs, aka Windows XP

It's not been possible to install and run Drum Score Editor on XP for some time. Hopefully not surprising as it's a modern piece of software that's regularly updated and Windows XP is not - it's not been available for years however a lot of people still have it - millions in fact, it's more popular than macOS still apparently!

Anyway if you try to install Drum Score Editor it all goes well then blows up at the end saying not a valid program or words to that effect.

So here's the scoop. This is the packaging only. The packaging technology that created the installer etc is new, newer than XP and I can only presume the guys that wrote it didn't cater for XP because of it's age.

I like a good investigation and finally found a way to be able to run Drum Score Editor on XP. It's not pretty but hey if you're still running old stuff like XP you are used to not pretty! In my humble opinion ... :)

In summary, the trick is to install java from the oracle web site, and then use it to run the underlying jar file that is shipped in Drum Score. So what does that mean to a non-geek?

Browse to: http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/java/javase/downloads/index.html and select JRE download on the right. Accept the license and choose the i586 windows download.

Run the installer it downloads and reboot your XP machine. Then open a command prompt, and prove to yourself it now works:

cd c:\"program files"\DrumScoreEditor\app
java -jar DrumScoreEditor-2.3.jar

Boom - it will work. Now it will look like it works but there's one more gotcha. You have to have a printer of some sort installed on the XP machine - it doesn't physically need to be there, you just have to make sure XP has at least one printer entry, otherwise nothing happens when you try to create a new score, and every time you try to load an existing one it says "doesn't look like a score file".

The reason for this is there needs to be a printer there to validate page sizes against, Drum Score has to do this to get the dimensions correct - I might be able to do away with this, find another way to do it I mean, but that's more development.

If you want to be really clever you can create an icon on your desktop with a shortcut to run Drum Score without having to type all that above:

On the desktop right click and choose new shortcut
In the Target box type exactly: "C:\Program Files\Java\jre1.8.0_111\bin\java.exe" -jar DrumScoreEditor-2.3.jar
(OK a more complex bit here, this assumes the latest version of java is 1.8.0_111, you may need to replace that with the version that installed, just check what is in the Program Files\Java folder.)
In the Start In box type exactly: "C:\Program Files\DrumScoreEditor\app"
Hit OK and then just clock on the icon and you have Drum Score Editor.

This is all a bit geeky and techie but it's the best there is at the moment to enjoy Drum Score Editor on Win XP. The alternative is trade up your PC I'm afraid :/

Testing Guidance for Drum Score Editor 2.3

Rambling Preamble for Drum Score Editor 2.3 Testing

What is this place?

For anyone landing on this post by accident, it's purpose is to help provide guidance to those kind folks who've opted to test version 2.3 of Drum Score Editor before I update all the website links and documentation. Anyone is welcome to test this software, all I ask is you confirm to me any issues, if it worked ok, whether you did it on an Apple Mac or Windows PC and which version of macOS or MS Windows you installed on.

Why are you providing so many words this time when prior it was the Nike approach (Just Do It)

This version of the software integrates fully in the desktop, meaning it associates the file extension .ds with Drum Score Editor. This has required a slightly different experience to the install on Windows for this one time only. Mac is no different from before, but for both platforms you get the ability to click on a drum score file in File Manager (Windows) or Finder (Mac) and it will open it in Drum Score Editor.

It also means you'll see the .ds files with the now famous Drum Score Editor icon attached and they'll be described as "Drum Score Editor File".

What about licensing?

A quick foreword, Drum Score Editor runs on Windows and macOS. There are separate install instructions for each platform below. If you've already run Drum Score Editor on the system you're testing on, and have previously kindly purchased a license to unlock the productivity features, then that license key will be applied automatically to this version when you install.

If you're installing on a new system, and have a license key on a previous system, you can retrieve it by logging in to your account on https://www.drumscore.scot.

If you never knew there was the ability to help support the project financially by buying a license, you absolutely don't need to, the unlicensed version runs perfectly well, isn't crippled or time limited in any way and is perfectly functional for writing scores.

However you can create an account and download a license on the said website. You get a bunch of advanced features which make life a lot easier if you're writing up scores. It's not expensive, GBP 15.00 (which for all the non-UK residents this is now mega cheap given current exchange rates). I've had so much feedback that I should charge more but this isn't a money-making venture, I'm just trying to cover costs, I give my time developing and support this for free.

I've not used Drum Score Editor before.

If you've never used the software before I suggest a quick look at the documentation pages on https://www.drumscore.scot and email me, alan@whiteware.org for a quick session on how to get started quickly.

Enough, tell me how to install this stuff!

macOS (aka Mac OS X)


Mac users will know how the install works. It's consistent with every software install on macOS, it comes in a DMG file which you download from above, Finder will mount it as a volume and you get window asking you to drag the software onto the Applications folder. 

Just drag it across and say yes to overwrite any previous version. The app is digitally signed so you don't need to faff with gatekeeper settings or anything, it's a validated Mac app. If you want to go back to a prior version they're all in the s3 folder above, so version 2.273 would be https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/drumscoreportal-resources/DrumScoreEditor-2.273.dmg.

Once installed you can launch like any mac app, through finder, launch pad etc, cmd-space etc.

Microsoft Windows


I recommend that if you have a previous version of Drum Score Editor installed that for this one upgrade, you manually uninstall it. Reason for this is we now install in C:\Program Files (x86) where everybody expects to find software, rather than in the user local profile and I've not found a way to automatically uninstall from a different location I'm installing to. I'm sure it can be done, somehow, but I've not discovered it yet. If I figure it out before testing has finished we'll be in a better position for all the other folks who will use it.

Because it's Windows and we're installing in Program Files with admin permissions, we need to care about people doing nasty things like hijacking installers to carry viruses and other malicious code. When you run the installer, Windows will ask you if you want to allow the Drum Score Editor installer to run as admin - you have to say yes to this if you want to install it, however it should tell you that the Publisher of the software is verified as Alan White. If it says anything else you should cancel as somebody has passed you a dodgy copy. This also protects you in case anyone hijacks my website or installer locations too.

The installer will ask you the location to install, please just accept the default, it will only ever ask this the first time you install Drum Score Editor because we're putting it in a new location. Future version installs will just know where to put it!

Click through and Finish. You will find there's an icon on the desktop to make it easy to find in amongst the plethora of stuff Microsoft sticks in those menus.

Feedback

Please feel free to ask me any questions or tell me if something didn't work how you thought it should and so on. Either by email to alan@whiteware.org or use the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/DrumScoreEditor/, or send a carrier pigeon. Always happy to help.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Version 2.3 Release Notes

Drum Score Editor 2.3

Some far reaching internal changes to the code in this release, mostly to allow the features and fixes below, so please do let me know if there's anything not quite working right for you asap and I'll fix it! Thanks again to everybody who continues to support this project with feedback or financially by buying a license at https://www.drumscore.scot

Note Beams

Note beams can now pass underneath rests, important to allow visual grouping of notes. In the past there was no option but to just leave the notes untethered in groups such as first shown here:

Windows & macOS Integration

Drum Score Editor is now a much better behaved citizen on your desktop. The .ds file type is now associated with the Drum Score Editor app on both Windows & macOS versions. This allows launch from the file manager by clicking on the score file, rather than run the app up and File->Open. Note that it will not run up another copy of the app if it's already running, the file clicked will open in a new tab.

Also, on the Windows installation, it now resides in C:\Program Files(x86) rather than in the users AppData folder. This means Drum Score Editor is now available to all logged in users on a PC and more importantly it's where most folk expect software to go, despite nuances of multi-user servers. A desktop shortcut icon, and a start menu entry are also created.

Just for the curious, the (x86) piece means we're shipping a 32-bit product, rather than 64-bit - reason being there are too many people still running old copies of windows out there that only support 32-bit and it would take a lot more development cycles to build both types and then re-engineer the installer to figure out what you've got. Maybe next year we'll ship 64-bit only.

Changes in Time Signature

Prior to this release, if you dropped a time signature inside a music area (shift-t), it would show as being there but the advanced Beautify and Bar Auditing view would ignore it and keep pretending it's still the time signature in the score properties.

We now consider any changes in time signature throughout the piece, which is incredibly useful if you're writing exercise sheets or maybe there's a few bars at the end of a tune in a medley where there's a fancy show-off segue.

Cut Any Which Way

We now have the ability to tell a cut to explicitly go forwards, in the situations where Drum Score Editor can't decide, or just plain get's it wrong and points it backwards. Select the note and use shift and hyphen (that's a dash to some!).

Is My File Saved

You don't get the annoyance any more where you save a file and it still flags up as unsaved and prompts you again when exiting.

There Be Dragons

An important one for those who've edited .ds files directly to achieve certain effects, the x co-ordinate is no longer stored in the file, and only xPerCent is used to determine how far along a staff line an element should sit, i.e. it's relative placement. If you don't know what I just said, s'ok - you don't need to!