Saturday, 29 September 2018

Beta Testing 2.6.7.x

Be Beautiful 

The look and feel of scores has always had some optionality, albeit just the ability to squash or expand the space between staff lines and choose the point size of the music. Oh and let’s not forget you could choose between 2 fonts for text and set sizes, weight and so on. Yep, a whole 2! 

So I thought it’s time to put some focus on this and have made two major changes in this area. Firstly you can now use a professional music font instead of the built-in graphics that have always been there. This embedded font is just the first step and in future releases you’ll be able to import any SMuFL compliant font you have access to. Some are commercial, some are free but it will allow you to personalise how your scores look beyond anything else possible today.

To access this please set your Preferences -> Format -> Use Music Font, and then hit OK, and generate a score, the new score will use the new font. Existing scores will not use the font, in case you wanted consistency across all score for now. If you want to migrate an existing score to using the font, I recommend generating a new score, and copying and pasting the contents in, as there would be so many things to manually adjust. If you want to try, set this in the Properties -> Format -> Use Music Font. Point Sizes for the music need changing, also for the time sig music area. bar lines at the right hand side need switching to align right and be moved over …. just all messy - generating new and copy/paste is definitely the way to go. I’ll see if I can write some specific migration code before we go general release.

I’ve added some smaller font sizes in the drop down list in Format -> Music -> Point Size. This is because the point sizes I was using in the inbuilt graphics were actually incorrectly labelled. A size 16 was really a size 12 so to speak. But for consistency, I haven’t changed anything so if you’re continuing to use the inbuilt graphics instead of the font, nothing changes, but if you use the font you’ll probably want to select a smaller size than you’re used to. If only my waistline worked the same way …. if anyone wants to get geeky on what point size means it’s the number 72nds of an inch that a generalised character would consume.

Yeah and text fonts, you can now use any you have on your computer. They will be rendered in any pdf you make from your score. If you send your score file to someone whose computer doesn’t have the font you chose they will get a default boring standard one as before. If you click within the text area you want to change, then use the Format -> Music -> Choose Font … menu item. I haven’t added any scope for colour, if anyone thinks that’s important please shout. Oh and there’s no mixed styling, ie certain characters bold, others plain, others italic, within a text area (because it’s immensely much more work).

Talking of beauty, the beautify tool now considers clefs and time signatures that are embedded in a music area properly. That is to say they get relocated to be the first stall element in a bar, as they should be. Please don’t argue about this one, you set the time signature at the beginning of a bar, not half way through it, so that you know how many beats are in that bar!

Music Layout

This new version isn’t just about cosmetics, there’s some real functional improvements too.

Be Who You Need To Be 

From now on when you generate a new score it will space the staff lines according to the space they need for the music point size chosen. This way you get consistent spacing of staff lines whether a Score has 4 or 6 parts for example. Great news for book authors, as the last thing you need is having to manually resize music areas to try and get that consistency throughout your book.

What you also get by having this consistent staff line spacing is the possibility for automatic creation of new pages when you overflow the size of the music area. Add one staff line too many and a new page will be created. Delete a staff line such all would fit in one music area and it removes the now unneeded pages. This isn’t ready yet, but I’m hoping to complete this before the full release. Most of the underlying changes in the code base to support this are present in the version you’re testing, if you don’t spot weirdness then we’re heading in the right direction.

As always you can set your Preferences such that new scores are generated the old way if you don’t want the consistent staff line spacing in new scores you generate. With this old behaviour though you won’t get the automatic creation of multiple pages if you overflow the music area. This is because by the very definition of resizing the music area to house all staff lines, you never can spill to a second page because it will keep squashing the staff lines into that space.

You can convert existing scores over to this style by loading them up and amending the score Properties to use the new spacing method, by unchecking the Distribute Staff Lines Evenly box in the Format tab.

By The Right!

There’s been a fix for a long standing issue that I personally didn’t like. Bar lines at the end of a staff line didn’t always seem to stick to the right hand side when zooming or changing point size. For the technically minded this was because they were placed according to the percentage along the staff line the start of the bar symbol occupied. You can now tell a bar line to have its location measured by its right hand side. All new scores will be generated with that policy set for bars at the end of a staff line. I recommend that for existing scores you generate a new score and copy and paste the whole score (without bar lines) across and hit beautify to sort it out. There is a way to select and amend the location policy of an individual bar line but it’s finnecky to have to go and do that for each. Select a barline and use Ctrl-m.

Part With It

If you had a part in a score that was repeated, we have had for a while the ability to take the last line of such a part and automagically turn it into a 1st and 2nd time variation, adjusting the bar markers and unison etc.

If you’re using the font, it now displays a bracket across the top of 1st and 2nd time lines with the 1 and 2 embedded. This is more in keeping with what folks are used in the pipe band drumming world. It’s not something regular musicians would recognise, but that’s a fight for another day, hint d/s capo etc.

Also, a second part power tool has been added, you can completely expand a repeated part, i.e. have it written out in full with no repeats, like you would do if you discover that actually only 3 out of 8 bars are the same in the piano and forte so you duplicate the staff lines, adjust the repeat dots on the bars, remove the unison from the notes copied from the piano … or you use the Format -> Music -> Compress/Expand Repeated Parts tool, that does all this for you.

Mind I said instead of converting existing scores to use the font but to generate a new one and copy in the music? Well having these two part power tools it’s now easy to generate a score, adjust whatever parts need writing out in full to be expanded, set up any parts that have repeat variations and so they match exactly the ones you’d handcrafted before (and cursed me for for being so manual to do). Now that your newly generated score has the identical layout to the first copying and pasting the contents is much easier!

Protection Is A Good Thing

It’s been very annoying to have to remember to hit save every so often in case the computer crashes or you switch it off without remembering to save your work. You can now tell Drum Score Editor to continuously save your score. Never again will an edit be lost!

Of course you might not like that, because sometimes you open up a Score to use as a template for a new one and start making changes before doing Save As. If you do that with continuous save switched on your original file will get overwritten as you make those changes so depending how you work this might not be what you want. Before the full release I’ll have created an option for you to journal all the updates you make. As the name suggests this keeps a journal to the side of your original file and should the computer or software crash, the next time you try to open that score you’ll be asked whether to apply the updates in the journal or discard them and use the original score.

Up to you which method you prefer but my intent is to make it so the journalling is switched on by default in this release. You won’t need to do anything to get your scores protected that way, but if you prefer to have continuous saving to the original file then open up Preferences and you’ll find in the General screen all the dials to twiddle to tell it what you want.


Fixed a bug that’s embarrassingly been known to me for a year, where if you have a rest in the middle of a triplet and select the rest and hit the l (lower case L) to force beams under it, then it the note before it would both have a beam and a tail. Yuk. Sorted.

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