MuseScore 4. Moving from notation software to composition software.
Hello, fellow musicians!
Today, we are happy to announce a new chapter in the history of MuseScore: we are now actively working on the development of MuseScore 4!
Moving from Notation Software to Composition Software
Although notation is always of paramount importance to MuseScore, we want to expand our capabilities to include other areas of modern composition: experimentation, sharing & collaboration, working with mixed media, sophisticated organisation and being able to produce high-quality audio. MuseScore 4 is the first step in achieving this expanded focus.
However, this does not mean that we are going to start adding new features at the expense of existing ones. In order to achieve our goals, we need to look ‘inwards’ first. Armed with two years of user feedback on MuseScore 3, we have begun the process of making significant improvements to almost all aspects of the application: improved engraving defaults, simplification of the interface, more powerful functionality and an overhaul of its appearance, to name a few.
Product side of MuseScore 4
Although we are still in the early stages of development, we wanted to show a few examples of what we are planning.
One common issue we’ve found with MuseScore is that users often find it difficult to find and install SoundFonts and extensions. In fact, many users don’t even know they exist in the first place! We intend to fix this by creating a single place where these options are more visible and easy to access. In the long-term, we plan to continuously expand this space to eventually become your one-stop for everything: extensions, audio plugins, languages, external templates, fonts, libraries, preferences, tutorials, account information, etc.
Under the design direction of Martin Keary, we are making significant improvements to the interaction models and interface of MuseScore 4. Our focus is on ensuring that new users and professionals are able to work as quickly and easily as possible. All key actions should be conveniently "to hand" with more complex actions still being easy to find.
We are taking some of the new interaction ideas we introduced in the latest ‘Palettes’ panel updates and are now applying them across the app. Eventually, the MuseScore interface will reflect some of the interface advancements seen in modern DAW’s and visual creation apps.
The first (and probably the most significant) change we are making is to the ‘Inspector’ panel. This is a gigantic overhaul: we have simplified thousands of individual settings, making them much easier to find and understand, while paving the way for much more powerful settings and controls in the future.
We are also changing the default options found in the top bar, adding options for tuplets as well as some of the most common articulations. In addition, we will also make it easier for users to edit this toolbar to tailor it to their own unique workflow. We are also improving the playback panel to be more descriptive and aesthetically pleasing.
We have completely reimagined the system for adding and editing instruments, giving users a much faster and intuitive way to alter the layout and appearance of their scores.
Building on our existing piano roll, the sequencer is a new page in MuseScore’s history. The ambition is to eventually allow composers to create highly polished audio - bypassing the need for a companion DAW. We will fully synchronize the ability to work in both the Notation and Sequencer modes, with the option to detach the piano roll as a separate interface element.
Collaboration and cloud features
Building on our existing ‘Publishing’ capability, where users can upload their scores directly to MuseScore.com, we will also provide an convenient (and free) way for users to save their ‘works-in-progress’ privately. MuseScore will start supporting cloud storage by default but will not prevent you from storing your files locally.
This is the first step in building up a sophisticated sharing and co-working capability. Next, we plan to add the ability to share your work with other musicians, who can add annotations (using the website, mobile or desktop apps) which will sync with your project. This will allow students and teachers, as well as arrangers and musicians to optimize the process of working together. No more emailing PDF’s to musicians to get feedback. They can look at and listen to your score online and make comments that will sync with your project immediately.
Probably the most exciting part of our plans include a new audio engine as well as VST support. We plan to implement integration with Steinberg's VSTi SDK, while making sure that our system will integrate with NotePerformer. To that end, we are in constant communication with the engineers from the NotePerformer team to ensure that the integration goes smoothly.
If you are interested in hearing more about these plans, we are creating a YouTube video to be released soon. Subscribe to our channel now if you don’t want to miss it!
Technical side of MuseScore 4
In order to implement the concept of the new version of the editor, we made several important decisions:
- We have moved to the new code style. Previously, we used the unpopular Banner style with weird 6-spaces indents and bracket positions. Now we stick to Qt-like code style and partly borrow ideas from Google Codestyle. This greatly reduces the entry barrier for experienced users who get used to 4-spaces indents and natural code styles.
- We begin to actively use QML in UI development.
- The first experiment of using QML in the editor interface was Palettes. The process of implementing and supporting Palettes has shown that QML simplifies the process of constructing an interface for a developer and provides a clear implementation of the MVC pattern. In addition, QML supports animations, touch interfaces and better support for accessibility features right out of the box.
- The second approach was to implement a new UI for the inspector. The new inspector can already be tried in the master branch and nightly builds. Implementing such an interface using QWidgets would be very very difficult and time consuming.
More about the pros and cons of QML is explained by Vasily Perverzev in details on MuseScore Development YouTube channel.
Few words about MuseScore 3
We are proud of what has been achieved in MuseScore 3. Smart layout, new palettes, single note dynamics and literally a thousand of small and significant improvements comparing to what we had in MuseScore 2.
We are preparing MuseScore 3.5 release right now with more than three hundred of fixes and improvements thanks to the valuable impact of more than 20 contributors all over the world.
We want to make MuseScore 3 as stable as possible. This is because there will be no minor updates to the MuseScore 3 series anymore. We are planning to make patch releases like 3.5.1 if needed, but our main focus starting from now is MuseScore 4.
April 12, 2021: See Our Progress on MuseScore 4.