Browse Selected Objects, a plug-in for Sibelius


In Sibelius, you can run a filter that selects a large number of objects. If you filter objects in a large selection, these objects may be scattered throughout a score. It can be difficult to find them, and if you click on an object to change it you will lose the rest of the selection. To make it easier to find and edit the members of such a group of objects, I created a powerful plug-in that could change the way you use Sibelius: Browse Selected Objects.

Browse Selected Objects

The downloadable plug-in Browse Selected Objects, in the Navigation category, can be run on a score with any kind of selection, but it was designed to be run on a selection of objects created by running a filter. It will give you a list of all the objects in the selection, showing all the staves for each bar, or all the bars for each staff, depending on the Selected objects sorted by option.

Click on a list box entry, use the up and down arrow keys, or type the start of a list entry to change the selection in the list box and the corresponding score object will come into view. The bar containing the object will be passage-selected by default, which makes it more visible, but you can change it to select each object by unchecking View object’s bar. You should be able to examine each bar while the plug-in is up, or if you need to look more closely you can close the plug-in and examine it in the score.

If you see a bar in the score that needs adjustment, click on one of the Close dialog and… buttons, which will close the dialog and return you to the score at the location you were last viewing. Current Selection (OK) will leave the score selection unchanged from when you click the button. Original selection (Cancel) will restore the selection in place before the plugin was run, or any selection restored or made from the list while the dialog was up.

To make the best use of Browse Selected Objects, you should also install the plug-ins Save Or Restore Selection (category Selection) and Run Plugins By Name (category Other, version 02.20.00 or later).

Note that while it would be desirable to be able to click in the score to edit it, then go back to the dialog to continue browsing, plug-ins cannot work that way. Plug-in dialogs are “modal”, which means they keep the focus and you cannot click outside the dialog while it is up. The plug-in is able to position the score under itself, but in order to make edits in the score you need to close the dialog, edit the score, and then run the dialog again. This plug-in tries to make it seem as close to editing while the dialog is up as it can. It is very helpful to have this plug-in assigned to a keystroke, or to use Run Plugins By Name or My Plugins, so you can quickly restart the plug-in after an edit.

Using Save Or Restore Selection with Browse Selected Objects

When you run the plug-in again, the original selection will have been lost. To avoid having to run the filter each time you edit an object, the plug-in Save Or Restore Selection, in the Selection category, has been integrated into Browse Selected Objects.

If it is installed, the Save/Restore Selection button is enabled, and the first time Browse Selected Objects runs in a Sibelius session it will ask you if you want to save the selection. At this time the selection will likely be all the filtered objects, and it is a good time to save it. It is also good to save the selection the first time you run Browse Selected Objects on a new selection.

You should also turn on View > Invisibles > Bar Numbers so it is easier to tell which bar and staff you are looking at while the dialog is up.

If you have saved the selection you will be able to restore it quickly by clicking on Save/Restore Selection without needing to rerun a filter. When you restore the selection, the list box will refill with all the selected objects, and you can continue where you left off.

Running another plug-in on the selection in the score

Having to exit the plug-in, modify something in the score and then rerun the plug-in and restore the selection again can itself get tedious, so Browse Selected Objects can also run another plug-in on the current selection without exiting.

If you click Choose and Run Plugin it will bring up Run Plugins By Name (if installed), which will let you choose a plug-in to run. If you are using version 02.20.00 or later of Run Plugins By Name, you will be able to click on Run Last Plugin, which will repeat the last plug-in that had been chosen and run.

You should choose a plug-in that operates on the current selection in the active score, which most plug-ins do, and you need to have a plug-in that does what you want to do. Make sure the object selected is what you want the plug-in to act upon. If the plug-in has an option to hide its dialog it is possible to just click on the Run Last Plugin button and have it work with no additional dialogs.

Customizing the objects viewed in the list box

While using Browse Selected Objects to look through the bars, there are several ways you can change what is shown in the list box and what is selected in the score as it is displayed.

  • The Select objects sorted by option lets you look at the selected objects bar-by-bar, showing objects vertically in all staves for each bar, or staff-by-staff, showing objects horizontally in all bars for each staff.
  • If View object’s bar is checked (the default), the bar containing the object will be passage-selected in the score, and for a system object like Title text, the entire system will be selected. This makes it much easier to see what has been selected. You can turn this off, and then each object will be selected.
  • Using the radio buttons labeled Objects displayed in list, the list box will include:
    • All the objects in the selection for All selected objects (the default)
    • The first object found in each bar/staff combination for One object per bar/staff
    • The first object found in each bar, regardless of the staff, for One object per bar

The second and third options will let you move around more quickly. You can change the option at any point if you want to see more detail.

An example of using Browse Selected Objects

Here is a problem that I was discussing with music engraver Bill Holab. He had a large orchestral score, about 60 staves, 250 pages, and 3,000 bars. When there were notes that were tied across system breaks or page breaks, he felt there was often not enough space allocated for the ties, so he wanted to add more space where appropriate. There are a lot of places to review, and it would be easy to miss some when reviewing them manually.

I had two plug-ins I thought would be useful: Filter Notes Tied To – Simple (category Filter and Find) to filter appropriate notes, and Set Space Before First Note In Bar (category Engravers’ Tools) to add extra space before the first note in a bar, and thus increase the size of the initial ties.

With the entire score selected, select all the bars with tied-to notes across system and page breaks by running Filter Notes Tied To – Simple (category Filter and Find) with the option to select only the notes that are in the first bar of a system. Filter Notes Tied To – Simple can only make intelligent guesses about which notes are tied-to, so you should assume there may be some false positives or negatives, bit it is still the best tool I know of to filter these kinds of notes.

With all these notes selected, there are 2 choices for using Set Space Before First Note In Bar to add extra space at the start of the bars in the selection. One is to look at each bar that contains selected notes and decide if that bar should be respaced. The other way is to run the plug-in on all the selected bars at once, then examine the results, and change back any that did not need respacing.

Bill decided that adding an extra 0.75 spaces would work for most cases, so he ran Set Space Before First Note In Bar on the entire selection.

At this time I had not written Browse Selected Objects, so he went through the score page-by-page to examine the results. But when reviewing the changed bars it is very easy to lose the selection when you want to edit a bar, and at that point you would need to run the filter again.

Using Browse Selected Objects to review a selection

With Browse Selected Objects, reviewing the results now becomes a whole lot easier.

Here’s how to use it in this example:

  1. While the notes are still selected after Set Space Before First Note In Bar, turn on View > Invisibles > Bar Numbers.
  2. Run Browse Selected Objects, and choose Save/Restore Selection to save the current selection. Be sure that Selected objects sorted by is set to Bar (for this example – however it is often useful to sort by staff so you can look along a single staff bar by bar).
  3. To look at each bar, choose All selected objects, or One object per bar/staff (which could show fewer objects in the list to scroll through), and use the arrow keys to look at each bar that has tied-to notes.
  4. To change a bar, click on a Close dialog button, such as Passage Select Bar, and be back in the score to make edits.
  5. To continue looking for the next bar, select something (anything will do), and then rerun Browse Selected Objects. Immediately clicking on Save/Restore Selection, and choosing Restore Selection would refill the list, selecting the last object he looked at, and you could continue browsing.
  6. Repeat until finished.

If you wanted to check each bar and change only the bars you want changed, consider using Choose and Run Plugin to run Set Space Before First Note In Bar. With this plug-in you could either select an individual object or a full bar in the score and you would get the same result. You could also turn off the display of the dialog in Set Space Before First Note In Bar, and then clicking Run Last Plugin would run the plug-in with no dialogs. If you do run plug-ins with no dialogs, consider closing and restarting Sibelius once you are done to ensure the dialog will come up the next time you want to use it.

Browse Selected Objects can be used with any selection. You get random access for all the selected objects so you can look back and forth until you want to return to the score, and it is comparatively easy to get back in and continue where you left off. Using this tool could be a way to significantly help your workflow.

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