Today Avid released Sibelius 2019.12, its latest update to Sibelius and presumably final update for 2019. This year-end update tidies up a number of items behind the scenes, some of which are thanks to another update to the Qt application framework that provides the cross-platform tools necessary for Sibelius to run on Mac and Windows. In addition, more of the interface has been made accessible to screen readers for vision-impaired users.
Before you update, however, take note of some changes to the operating systems that will be compatible with Sibelius 2019.12.
Sibelius 2019.12 will not run on Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite and Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan. Those versions of Apple’s operating system were released in 2014 and 2015, respectively. While it doesn’t seem like that long ago, with Cupertino now sending out new OSs on an annual basis, they are ancient history. This does mean that if you’re still running 10.10 or 10.11, you’ll need to stick with Sibelius 2019.9 until you update at least to macOS 10.12 Sierra. Sibelius’s chief competition, Finale and Dorico, already have a minimum OS requirement of 10.12 on the Mac side.
The good news is that Sibelius 2019.12, as was the case with 2019.9, is fully supported on Apple’s latest: macOS 10.15 Catalina.
In Windows-land, it has been known for a while that Microsoft will be ending support for Windows 7 on January 14, 2020. Although Sibelius 2019.12 will run on Windows 7, Avid will not be supporting any of its products running on Windows 7 after that date, including Sibelius. So, generally speaking, anyone still running Windows 7 is advised to update to Windows 10.
As usual, we will keep the Scoring Notes Product Guide current with the latest compatibility requirements for Sibelius, along with Dorico, Finale, and Musescore.
Avid’s partnership with the Berklee College of Music continues in the way of accessible music product creation. The goal has been to bring parity to the screen readers NVDA, Narrator, and JAWS for Windows, and VoiceOver for Mac.
Sibelius 2018.11 and 2019.9 focused on making staff objects in the score accessible, and 2019.12 brings support for elements of the user interface. Sibelius senior product manager Sam Butler said, “The premise of these improvements has not just been to read what’s on the screen, but to add contextual detail too. It’s these details that make the difference to any implementation of accessibility – much like a sighted person helping a blind person down a flight of stairs; it’s not much help telling them that there are some stairs there… Where do the stairs begin? How many stairs are there? Which direction do they go? Is there a hand rail? Context is just as important to help navigation.” When it comes to bringing these improvements to Sibelius, Sam said, “This is no mean feat since Sibelius is such a large application with several different interfaces.”
In particular, in Sibelius 2019.12 improvements have been made to the Lines, Symbols, and Notehead galleries, and Sibelius now announces any notehead type to screen readers via the shortcut Alt+Shift and the numbers 0-22.
Other accessibility improvements are in the Quick Start and Preferences dialog and the Ribbon buttons for drop-down menus.
Sam plans on participating on Avid’s Accessibility Panel with Berklee at the 2020 NAMM Show once again, as they did in 2019. We will have coverage of the 2020 NAMM Show on Scoring Notes from January 16-19, 2020.
Sibelius 2019.12 sports a few touch-ups to the major MIDI importing feature introduced in 2019.9.
MIDI tracks are now imported more reliably, addressing an issue where tracks would import with an incorrect number of instruments. Sibelius 2019.12 will now check the first chunk of the MIDI file, to know whether or not to consider it as metadata or musical data.
For one-to-many mappings, the drop-down menu will no longer close in 2019.12 after each mapping, a pet peeve from 2019.9.
Several other items are fixed in MIDI import, although we hope that more significant improvements lie ahead for this promising feature.
UX/UI, printing, PDF export, and stability
A good deal of issues have been addressed in Sibelius 2019.12 relating to the user experience and interface, printing, PDF export, and stability. They range from checkboxes not appearing correctly, to problems with decimal points in non-English localizations, to video playback.
On macOS, it’s now possible to use the OS dialog in File > Print > Use OS Dialog even when there is no printer driver installed. You might want to do this in certain instances, to save a file as a PostScript file or to use the Mac’s PDF generator instead of the one built into Sibelius.
The full list of fixes is enumerated at the official Avid blog post announcing this release, so check to see if your particular Sibelius grievance has been tamed by a feat of strength by the developers before you start airing it around the Festivus pole.
A number of the plug-ins that ship with Sibelius have been updated in Sibelius Ultimate 2019.12. Bob Zawalich wrote these plug-ins originally, and he provided the latest fixes for them. These plug-ins have been updated in all supported languages.
This might be a good time to check to see if you have any user copies of these plug-ins, because they will block access to these and any future plug-in updates. To do so, go to File > Plug-ins > Edit Plug-ins, and use the Find box on any part of the plug-in name. You will see “user copy” next to any plug-ins that are downloaded or are edited shipping plug-ins. You can delete unwanted plug-ins at the same location, just don’t accidentally edit anything you do not want to change!
Two plug-ins on the plug-in download page contain the fixes that are now in the shipping plug-ins: Export Folder As PDF Subfolder, and Add Capo Chord Symbols (Fixed). You can delete those downloaded plug-ins and use the shipping versions if you like.
Here are some of the changes that were made:
Add Capo Chord Symbols
- The fret positions for A and D major were swapped in the dialog.
- Fixed a bug where you were allowed to choose multiple keys but if you did so all but the first set of chords was wrong.
Combine Tied Notes And Rests
- Fixed a bug handling grace notes.
- The plug-in had also been updated sometime after mid-2017 for speedup, UI tidying, and some bug fixes.
- Double and triple dotted notes can now be unfolded.
- Fixed a bug when splitting dotted notes that were within tuplets.
- Updated to work with improved note colors and slides.
- Some other bug fixes.
Export Folder As PDF
- The original version of this plug-in exported all the PDF files into a single folder. Now the destination folder matches up with the main source folder, and if there are subfolders in the source folder, the same folder names will create subfolders in the destination, so the input and output folder structures will be matched.
- Some changes were made to fix the same bug that caused Split Bar to paste into the wrong staves in some cases involving hidden staves.
Nashville Chord Numbers
- Fixed some bugs and added support for the Norfolk and Pori ASC chord fonts and Std fonts to allow it to convert legacy chord symbols that use special ASC font characters to allow angled slash chord symbols.
- Fixed an obscure but nasty bug where splitting a bar when there were staves hidden by Hide Empty Staves could cause data to be pasted into the wrong staves. Fortunately, this could only happen if the bars being split ended up on different systems.
The Sibelius 2019.12 update is free for all Sibelius users with active subscriptions and upgrade plans. The updated installers are available through users’ Avid accounts and through Avid Link. Again, take note of the OS compatibility changes described at the beginning of this post.
Bob Zawalich contributed to this post in the area of plug-in updates.