Finale 2014 released; MakeMusic: “Others take music notation software development for granted”


7. Automatically combined rests in multiple layers. This is a new feature in Finale 2014 that Sibelius doesn’t automatically support, activated by a setting in Finale’s Document Options and optionally controlled via a keystroke upon note entry. Both Finale and Sibelius have previously supported this through plug-ins (TGTools’s Join Rests of Multiple Layers for Finale; Bob Zawalich’s Hide Duplicate Rests for Sibelius).

It’s worth noting, though, that Sibelius will still more intelligently handle a situation where a rest is hidden in a voice for part of a measure; in Finale, one has to still manually flip stems, articulations, and other markings, in a tedious multi-step process:

Finale 2014Sibelius 7

8. Improved handling of accidentals between layers. (Note: Finale “layers” are analogous to Sibelius “voices”.) In Finale versions prior to 2014, if an accidental occurred on the same note in multiple voices, one would be forced to choose between disabling Use Cross-Layer Accidental Positioning in Finale’s Document Options (resulting in poor handling of accidentals elsewhere in the score), or force-hiding the offending duplicate accidental in a voice and dealing with the consequences there.

Finale 2014 now intelligently handles these cases, as Sibelius already does:

Finale 2012Finale 2014Sibelius 7

Finale also always used to show an accidental when it was stated in another voice, even if it was not desirable (like in piano music). Finale 2014 improves this and offers a bit more flexibility than Sibelius regarding restating cross-layer accidentals by offering it as a per-instrument option in Staff Attributes > Redisplay Accidentals in Other Layers Within Measures. Sibelius offers this as a global option, when Restate accidental when seen in a new voice is switched off in Sibelius’s Engraving Rules > Accidentals and Dots > Cautionary Accidentals:

Finale 2012Finale 2014Sibelius 7

Cautionary accidentals in Finale 2014 are not automatic and must still be handled by the Cautionary Accidentals plug-in. Sibelius has automatically supported cautionary accidentals, with various attributes controlled in Engraving Rules since Sibelius 6.

9. Anchored measure-attached Smart Shapes. Finale 2014 takes incremental steps toward making lines (Smart Shapes) behave better. Measure-attached Smart-Shapes such as hairpins, trills, and 8va markings now have attachment points, just as expression marks do. This means that positioning will be better in linked parts, and for the first time in Finale, you can adjust the length of a measure-attached Smart Shape in a linked part without it affecting the score.

Hairpins and other measure-attached Smart Shapes now snap to an attachment point upon entry; once placed, they can be horizontally adjusted. There is no automatic collision avoidance or alignment in Finale 2014, nor does there seem to be a way to set the default vertical placement of hairpins and other measure-attached Smart Shapes.

Finale users have long had the ability to align dynamics on a case-by-case basis by calling up TGTools’s Align/Move Dynamics, which ships with Finale. If the score content or layout changed, the plug-in needed to be re-run, so it was best to do this near the end of the layout process.

Jari has demonstrated a group script called Fix Dynamics for a series of plug-ins he’s developing for Finale 2014, which appears to adjust for both collision avoidance and alignment:


While Jari’s plug-in will be a huge help for Finale users, having to accomplish these tasks on a case-by-case basis through a third-party plug-in pales when compared to Sibelius’s powerful Magnetic Layout feature, which was introduced with version 6 in 2009. Magnetic Layout not only automatically aligns objects horizontally, but also vertically, and it encompasses sophisticated collision avoidance as well, for which there is no comparable feature in Finale.

10. Improved percussion notation interface. Getting percussion notation to both look and play back correctly, all while trying to keep note entry from getting too complicated, is one of the most difficult challenges for notation software. Finale has long had the ability to map pitches and noteheads to specific MIDI pitches, which then call up a particular sound depending on the sample used. Finale 2010 improved some aspects of this, while confusing many users in the process.

Finale 2014 improves the user interface while keeping the underlying percussion map engine intact. Jari has an excellent write-up of the details. Sibelius’s way of handling percussion is not necessarily more or less complicated, or powerful, than the Finale way — it’s just different, and it hasn’t changed much in recent versions of Sibelius. (Interested users with 20 minutes to spare can learn the Sibelius method by watching my 3-part tutorial: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.)


  1. Me

    …but, still the results in Sibelius are far more better. waiting for Sibelius 8

  2. Justin Phillips

    Thanks Philip for the kind words and writeup!

    If anyone has any feedback for me or MakeMusic regarding Finale, I can be reached at @justin_finale on Twitter, or via our Customer Support team here: (feedback submitted to support ends up on my desk).


  3. Steve

    Re point 7: this is not exclusive to Finale 2014 – LilyPond has been doing this for years.

  4. ericdano

    One BIG problem is that TGTools does not work with Finale 2014. The full version of TGTools. I use this all the time with Finale and it seems to be an abandoned plugin now.

  5. Philip Rothman

    Steve: Thanks. I’ve updated the post.

  6. Christopher Smith

    Thanks for a great comparison. Very illuminating.

    I can’t believe that grace notes in linked voiced parts are STILL broken! But then, Sibelius doesn’t even have voiced parts, but if you have grace notes in your score then Finale won’t have voiced parts either!

  7. Bernd Philippsen

    It´s incredible: 2 years time for reflection, an then the bad old mazy click-orgy!
    It should be clear, that layout-exspectations of performers should be responded by a layout-exspectation-automatic, just like “magnetic layout”. But…nothing! The “final” disappointment…

  8. Jorge Silvestrini

    Seen the new features, just downloaded the demo and being playing with it. Using the Handwritten Style (Jazz Font) I still find out 3 mistakes from the previous 2012 version.

    The tempo marking is incorrect.
    Chords that are minor play like MAJOR.
    Staff Style slash don’t translate correctly to the parts from the score.

    More reviews to come. But I’m really not seeing an improvement at least for my workflow of things. I will keep testing.

    Also, you can’t use the ESC key anymore to get out of entering chords. Requires me to get the mouse and take my hands of the keyboard.

  9. KmF

    Saw Justin’s post above… sad to say he’s no longer with MM. They laid him off (“restructuring”) about a week after he posted this..

  10. Audiofanzine

    Tough call between Sibelius and Finale 2014, but finally, at least according to our readers sibelius won over with Finale 2014 just behind:

  11. Greg Williams

    Thank you for this post Philip, i check out this software and it appears that this is a excellent tool, it is easy to use and it really satisfy the user.

  12. Joe

    What is the difference between pro and academic?

  13. Matt

    I am desperately trying to finish engraving my Requiem Mass for the choir and organist in Finale 2014 and I am stumbling over so many completely ridiculous software weaknesses, having only previously used Finale at the strong-arming behest of our now FORMER department chair. I am switching BACK to Sibelius, no question. Finale is a broken toy at best. Great for sketches and theory assignments, but totally useless for professional level engraving. That’s $300 I will never get back and 27 hours of my music life wasted on chasing Finale’s bugs. What a crock.

    1. ericdano

      This is bull. What “weaknesses” are you talking about? Finale useless for professional engraving. Hardly.

  14. Musica200

    Using Finale for more than 10 years, several versions (actually 2011b), each time expensive and I have more & more problems,
    Obliged to re-write several pieces, to get something decent to engrave.
    Very funny with a symphony !
    Lacking or changing, from one version to the other some dynamics or other tools, the entire piece becomes awfull (me even not understanding why thi sf is foating here & there etc.
    Help, when it comes is useless, excepting for loosing time.

    Well I hate more & Finale, but fear to loose everything when changing !

    1. ericdano

      I’ve had minor little things happen when I open scores from earlier versions, say Finale 2002 or 2003, but nothing that a few clicks don’t take care of.

      1. Musica200

        Thanks ericdano,
        I’m not lucky :-(

        But also very upset as the techncian finds no way to help.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *