Dorico 3.5.10: Little things mean so much

Reviews

Steinberg has released Dorico 3.5.10, the first minor revision to Dorico 3.5 since its release in May 2020. Dorico 3.5.10 brings finesse and refinement to a wide range of the notation app’s functions.

Dorico’s tireless development team have issued their fourth release of 2020; and their sixth since version 3.0 last September. After the unexpected pleasure of version 3.5 in May, the customary minor update of 3.5.10 contains more than 140 bug fixes.

It also brings along a cornucopia of little improvements to existing features which, while small in stature, will be extremely welcome. Most of these take the form of increased capabilities to existing features: more settings, more buttons, more choices, more options. I imagine that each Dorico user will have their own personal epiphany of ‘Ooh, I can do that now!’.

Here are a few of the highlights, but as always, poring through the version history is essential bedtime reading. There’s hardly an area of the program that hasn’t been given some treatment.

Guitar

There are several improvements to bends and slides in guitar notation: Engraving Options now define hold lines for re-struck notes after a pre-bend:


and there’s a new ‘post-bend’ shape, often seen in blues guitar. Pitch-before-duration input is now supported for guitar tablature.

Notation editors

The color of musical symbols can now be defined in the Music Symbol, Notehead, and Playing Technique Editors.


You can also double-click on a glyph to add it, rather than having to click the Add Glyph button. Previously, only glyphs from the default ‘Regular’ style of a text font could be chosen: but now glyphs can be selected from any style of any installed font. If you know the Unicode number of a glyph (and who doesn’t?), you can use that to track it down and select it. Alternatively, use the named Unicode ranges for Text or SMuFL fonts alike.

Figured bass

Dorico’s revolutionary figured bass implementation gains many new features. Firstly, the ability to write a figure above 9, up to 19. (That should be enough, surely?) There’s also a switch in the Properties panel to simplify numbers above 8, so that you can type numbers ‘out of order’.

There are now popover commands to specify the length of an extension line or the duration of a suspension. (d for extension lines; r for suspensions.)

New Engraving Options offer refinements to the positions of accidentals and lines, and new Note Input Options offer more rules for interpreting ambiguous input.

Playback

Endpoint configurations can now be saved for MIDI devices, as well as VST Instruments. Dorico’s Playback Options can be overridden by each expression map, allowing different instruments to have unique settings.

The Line and Draw tools now have default key commands: L and W respectively. Other small improvements have been made to aspects of playback and MIDI export.

Condensing

One of Dorico’s flagship features, staff condensing receives several refinements, tweaks, bug fixes. There are new options for how staff labels and accidentals are handled, and the few occasions when condensing produced less than ideal results have been put right.

Text and lines

Paragraph Styles now include settings for borders around the text, as do the controls for text on Lines. Text Objects can now be aligned with the very left-hand of the system.

Wedge lines can now have an optional Middle Thickness, allowing you to create a single line that proceeds from thin to thick (or vice versa) and back again.

Text annotations on horizontal lines can now be positioned inside or outside as well as above or below, so they will flip to the other side of the line when it is placed on the opposite side of the staff. Rehearsal marks now have have an option for rectangles with rounded corners.

Bug fixes

As mentioned, this update is bursting with over 130 listed bug fixes that solve crashes, remove common annoyances and unexpected behaviors, and smooth over minor inconveniences. Taking three at random: Dorico no longer crashes sometimes when leaving the Chord Symbol Editor in Engrave mode; trill playback in Swung passages has been improved; and Playing Techniques are now correctly centered on down-stem longa and maxima notes — shows the range and attention to detail of the fixes.

Conclusion

Dorico prides itself on productivity and making ‘more time for music’, and this update certainly lives up to that maxim. While there may not be the next killer feature that we’re all waiting for, every user is going to notice some way in which things are just a little bit nicer, a little bit smoother, and a little bit better.

All in all, this free update polishes the rough edges; lubricates the moving parts; increases the potential; and makes Dorico even more of a joy to use. As previously mentioned, the version history will provide you will every last detail about what’s been improved and resolved in this update.

In his blog post announcing the update, Steinberg product marketing manager Daniel Spreadbury said, “While we have no intentions of resting on our laurels or of slowing down our pace of development, nevertheless Dorico 3.5.10 is the last planned release for a while.” So this is as good a time as any for users who either haven’t worked with Dorico or haven’t updated recently to get current with the software and expect a stable music scoring environment.

Looking ahead, Daniel said, the development focus will turn from “purely working directly on features in the software to focus on the health of the application’s code,” and, in recognition of the current state, “indeed the health of the talented team who crafts that code.” Items outside of their control such as Apple silicon for Macs, macOS Big Sur, a new Qt development framework, as well as plans to improve in Dorico’s core technologies, “require us to make time in order to address them.”

Dorico 3.5 and the 3.5.10 update are supported on macOS 10.12 Sierra/10.13 High Sierra/10.14 Mojave/10.15 Catalina, and Windows 10 (64-bit only). It is a free update for existing users of Dorico 3.5 and may be downloaded from the Steinberg web site or via the Steinberg Download Assistant.

For the latest information about compatibility for Finale, Sibelius, Dorico, and MuseScore, as well as links to the latest news and reviews about product releases, please see the Scoring Notes Product Guide.

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