Dorico for iPad adds “Open In Place” for better file management

News

Today’s release of Dorico for iPad 2.2 on the App Store adds support for Open in Place, Apple’s way of bringing a more desktop-like file opening and saving process to the iPad. It’s a seemingly small update to Dorico that addresses one of the major limitations iPad users have had with the app: the way it handles files when moving between different devices.

Score thumbnails, Quick Look, tempo automation, and other improvements round out this release.

Open in Place

Previous versions of Dorico for iPad used an older iOS document model that strictly kept a Dorico file within the confines of app on iPad. This required the user to first import any existing file into Dorico for iPad, which made a duplicate copy. The result was that moving between iPad and desktop (or even between two iPads) inevitably created conflicting edits with the same project in a different state on each device.

By adding Open in Place support, Dorico for iPad can now handle files in roughly the same ways as the desktop version of Dorico: Open a file saved in any storage location on your iPad, and it will be saved back to that same location.

Apple added Open in Place to the Files API with iOS 11 in 2017, which may make this update seem like a relatively small one, but the result is huge for any cross-platform Dorico users. The old system of file management was one of my largest concerns when I wrote about the original iPad release last summer, and this change allows me to use iPad for more than a reader for the first time — I can move back and forth between my desktop and iPad freely.

Thumbnails are now available for recent projects as they have been before, but projects are now viewable either as a list (left) or a grid (right). This is a welcome addition, as I found it too easy to miss the file I was looking for in grid view. Showing the file paths is of limited usefulness, given the opaque nature of the iPad file system.

One Open in Place-related warning: not all cloud sync services will behave equally, as each supports iPadOS’s built-in file-providing features to different extents. Notably, Microsoft OneDrive doesn’t support Open in Place from within Dorico, so if you open a OneDrive from the iPad Files app, it will still need to be copied into Dorico’s private folder and copied back out if you want to continue working on the desktop; you can, however, browse OneDrive files from within Dorico and open the file and save directly to that location. Dropbox does support Open in Place, but there are some bugs in the way it communicates to the OS, which can sometimes leave Dorico unaware that a file has been deleted or moved. As you might guess, Apple’s own iCloud Drive is the most reliable in its support of the file system features, and you’ll have the smoothest experience using it in terms of the communication between Dorico and a file provider.

Another warning: just like on desktop, if you delete a file from its cloud storage location, Dorico for iPad won’t have access to it any more.

And one more for good measure: The Dorico team is “planning to introduce further support for iCloud, so that you will be notified if you are working on the same project in your iCloud Drive on multiple devices, to avoid inadvertently overwriting a newer version.” But for now, it’s best to remember to save and close your work on one device first, before using Dorico on another device.

Score thumbnails, Quick Look, tempo automation

Alongside Open in Place, the 2.2 update includes score thumbnails and Quick Look preview in the iPad’s Files app, which brings the iPad version in line with the desktop version from 4.0.20 onwards. These thumbnails pair nicely with Open in Place, since you can browse project files in the Files app and open them directly to Dorico. The previews also show up in the Dropbox app!

Any app that looks for a Quick Look preview, including the Dropbox app pictured here, can display the last-opened layout in the project.

The last notable change with Dorico for iPad 2.2 adds tempo automation in the Key Editor in Write mode and Play mode. Tap the tempo track above the instrument track headers, and you’ll be able to edit the tempo in the lower zone. Drawing tempo curves in with a finger or Apple Pencil is a really fun and intuitive way to make subtle (and not-so-subtle) tempo changes with very precise control.

The tempo track can now be edited by drawing curves and adjusting points in the lower zone in the recently rebuilt Play mode.

There are some other changes and improvements in this update, which are listed on the post announcing the release on the official Dorico blog.

Availability

Dorico for iPad 2.2 is in the App Store now. Just as before, it is free to download with in-app subscription purchase to unlock all features. (Remember that as of version 2.0, the in-app purchase is also now eligible for Family Sharing.) Dorico for iPad 2.2 will be updated automatically if you have automatic updates enabled; if not, you can update the app manually through the App Store.

For the ways I happen to use Dorico, being able to open and edit files where they live in iCloud or Dropbox removes the largest barrier to working on my iPad when I’m away from my Mac. The only real remaining limitation for me to get significant work done away from my desktop is being able to use third-party fonts in Dorico, which is currently not possible. But the power of Dorico for iPad and feature comparability with the desktop remains impressive nonetheless, and with the forthcoming updates to iCloud support as well as other promised improvements, today’s update is one more reason to be optimistic about its future.

Comments

  1. John Barron

    With OneDrive if you start in the Dorico app and then browse to the OneDrive folder you can open the file directly and save to that location. You just can’t use the ‘Open in other app’ from e.g. the iPad Files app from a OneDrive file – that makes a copy.

    1. David MacDonald

      You’re right of course, John. I didn’t explain that very well. Thanks for clarifying.

  2. Terry Zipay

    David, Thank you for this update review. As always, clear and helpful.

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