Share and share alike

Courtesy ryancr on Flickr

In the spirit of a “shoot-out”, please allow me a brief rejoinder to Tom Johnson’s most recent post on the Finale blog. He points out that only Finale can export SmartMusic accompaniments (quite right!) but implies also that only Finale can export MIDI files, audio files, MusicXML files, and files that can be opened in other products in the Finale family, while implying that Sibelius can only export Scorch files.

Of course it’s true that Sibelius can export Scorch files, and indeed only Sibelius provides you with not only the ability to embed interactive versions of your scores on your own web site, complete with the ability to play them back, transpose them, and print them out, but also the ability to sell them securely online (and keep 50% of the proceeds).

But lest anybody think that this is the only export option open to Sibelius users, you can also export MIDI files, audio files (in fact, Sibelius was the first notation program to include built-in audio export), MusicXML files (with the purchase of the separate Dolet for Sibelius plug-in), and, of course, Sibelius files can be opened by any of the other products in the Sibelius family, including Scorch, the Sibelius demo, Sibelius First, and Sibelius Student.

And Sibelius has one further trick up its sleeve: you can save files from the current version of Sibelius that can be opened up by any previous version of Sibelius, all the way back to Sibelius 2, which was released nearly a decade ago. Only Sibelius provides you with built-in backwards compatibility in such a way that you can safely upgrade to the latest version even if your friends, colleagues or school is still using an earlier version.

While each year’s update to Finale introduces another new file format that cannot be opened in last year’s version, forcing to use MusicXML to share files with folks using older versions, Sibelius supports “back-saving” natively and with the minimal amount of data loss possible – for example, all of the edits to your dynamic parts are preserved when saving back to Sibelius 4 or Sibelius 5 format. This can save a tremendous amount of time over the inevitably more “lossy” MusicXML format.


  1. Matthew Taylor

    Hi Daniel
    I love that Sibelius can always convert its files back to previous versions. I have quite a few friend with older version that I share my sib files with.

    Sibelius’ import of XML is quite excellent.

    The glaring omission of built in XML export is quite amazing though. Having to purchase a plug-in when this should be standard when most other notation programs have some form of XML export.

    Many users of Sibelius use other programs as well and have friends that use other programs. When all the other big notation programs support this function(Finale,Encore,Notion, Musescore, Cappella etc)
    Sibelius has to follow. XML might be lossy but its a vast improvement on midi import in any notation program .

    Hoping in some update to magically find this function at last.
    Matthew Taylor

  2. Peter Roos, San Francisco

    I have never used Finale, so I cannot comment on the difference between Finale versus Sibelius in terms of user functionality or export functions. I have however heard of dozens of stories of people moving from Finale to Sibelius – and not one single story of the other way around. To put it into “shootout” terms: Finale may have won one battle somewhere, but Sibelius is clearly winning the war.

  3. Nick Nichols

    I have an issue regarding Finale to Sibelius XML transfers…

    For the marching band I work with (I arrange percussion book), our hornline arranger uses Finale, I use Sibelius. I do have Finale, (recently switched to Sibelius) and am only keeping it for sole reason of changing the Finale files to XML, and opening them in Sibelius. Here lies my issue, when I open the XML file in Sibelius, I can read the score just fine in Panorama view. However, when I switch to Page view, it’s like it crams all but a few of the pages of the score onto one page, so it looks like a jumbled mess. Any idea how to fix this problem? Please let me know!

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