Disabling automatic placement

• Apr 4, 2019 - 18:48

In the Disabling automatic placement section, there doesn't seem to be a function to disable all automatic placement on all elements. Having to select each element seems to be counter-productive. I would have thought it would be in the style section/page where there would be an option to turn it off.


The real question is: what do you hope to achieve?
All musical symbols just on top of each other? The whole score on just 1 small square?

Why do you want to turn off all automatic placement?

Indeed, there is not currently an option to turn it off globally, although there is a pending change to add one in a future version still. But I too wonder what you mean about "having to select each element to turn it off". Normally you wouldn't need to turn it off, this would actually be quite rare. Chances are whatever you are doing that currently makes you think you need to disable it, could actually be done more easily a different way. So feel free to attach your score and describe your goal in more detail, so we can understand and assist better.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

The main issue is this: when I open an existing files from MS2 to MS3 everything from articulation to fingering markings are not in the original positions and I have to go to each item to make everything fit to the original positioning. This is very labor intensive. ALSO: I find it similar case when I create a new score when I want to "tightly pack" various markings to have minimal number of pages in a score. I cannot manually move markings with having to disable the automatic placement. Again, I am having to go to each individual markings to disable the automatic placement which is very labor intensive.
Thanks for the reply.

In reply to by arachnesf

Here's how I handle version 3.

I change my default postions on items I use a lot and think are too far from the staff. Like, dynamics for example. I set the Y values for both position above and position below to 0. This prevents the unnecessary space above or below the staff and reduces the space between staves. I keep the Autoplace min. distance because this prevents the dynamic from being too close to the staff lines or notes when ledger lines are used. I save all of my changes into a style I call Normal.mss. Every time I create a new score I load this file so I don't have to redo all of this. You will need to play with other items to make them look good but once you get consistently good results, you should need to make minimal adjustments after that.

In the case of an imported score, I press ctrl+a then ctrl+r to reset everything I "fixed" in my version 2 score.

There are the occasional auto place things you have to manually fix, like when there is a Rehearsal mark, tempo and staff text all at the same point, you may need to move one or more of these items a little to the left or right so they don't stack, but it's easy to select one and press either an arrow or ctrl+an arrow to move them.

In my opinion it's not worth the effort to try to make it look like I edited the score in version 2, but it takes a little work to make it look good in version 3, just like it did in version 2.

If I don't have a compelling reason to import the score to version 3, I don't. I keep both versions 2 and 3 on my computer, I actually have them both opened most of the time. I keep my version 2 score in my version 2 directory and version 3 scores in my version 3 directory and never save the two versions in the same directory.

I rarely disable auto placement.

In reply to by arachnesf

Indeed, the default positions have been improved considerably, and that does mean that manual adjustments - particularly those made to workaround deficiencies in 2.3.2's layout - won't make sense any more. But that's why we provide the "reset" option, so you can take advantage of the improved defaults automatically. If you choose to decline that, then your manual adjustments will be preserved as well as possible, but since the defaults have changed, probably your adjustments need to be updated. But disabling automatic placement should not be required in order to do this. If you are finding you need to, there is probably something else going on. If you attach the score you are having trouble with, we can understand and assist better.

As for "tightly packing" things - you don't normally need to disable autoplace just to move things, but you might if you want to move them closer together than the minimum allowed distance. There are "min distance" settings in Format / Style for many elements types (and I have a pending PR to add more). So it still shouldn't be necessary to disable autoplace very often. Again, if you are having issues with a specific score, please attach it so we can see what you mean.

In reply to by jazzpianoonline.com

What makes you think disabling automatic placement would help with this file? The real issue here is that MuseScore doesn't import most placement information from MusicXML at all (and I suspect Sibelius doesn't export a lot of it, either). I'm not sure what it was supposed to look like - can you attach an image showing how it looked in Sibelius? - but importing that file into MuseScore 2 produces far worse results, totally unreadable, precisely because there is no automatic placement to help avoid collisions.

Here's how it looks in MuseScore 2, which lacks automatic placement:


And here it is in MuseScore 3:


Are you really saying the version with no automatic placement is better?

Assuming that neither really looks like what you want, better than manually adjusting things one by one - with or without automatic placement - is to set more appropriate style defaults for the look you are trying to achieve. Again, if you attach an image showing the desired result, we can better understand and assist you in achieving it. But the XML file itself is kind of a mess there are chord symbols that were created as staff text, text attached to the wrong staves - neither MuseScore 2 nor 3 is going to be make complete sense out of it.

Meanwhile, I can make some suggestions based on some reasonable guesses. The A7b9b13 chords are the ones exported incorrectly, so you can start by deleting those and re-entering them as chord symbols. Then, I see there is a bunch of staff text below the staff. This was imported fine, but doesn't align so well because the defaults are different between MuseScore and Sibelius. So, simply alter the defaults - go to Format / Style / Staff Text, change the default placement to "below".

Here are the results:


Those two changes alone instantly create something reasonable, without having to manually adjust anything or disable automatic placement - which indeed would only have made things worse.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

hi marc

excellent points all. but the reality is that importing is never going to be perfect and yes auto placement does do a better job after import than not but what i'm really asking is to be given the option to globally turn off auto placement after import so that you don't have to click the box for each element before moving it.

here is what it looked like in sibelius.

(fyi you are doing an excellent job, musescore is awesome and the support is great and i appreciate the debate)

Attachment Size
Screen Shot 2019-04-25 at 8.34.18 PM.png 879.73 KB

In reply to by jazzpianoonline.com

Looks like my guesses were pretty decent then, looks quite a bit like my picture except there is also additional distance between the staves you can add with a spacer system-by-system, or score-wide via Format / Style / Page / Staff Distance.

The one more significant difference is that the relative positions of the scale names and the Roman numeral analysis are backwards. This is a little more problematic, because MuseScore normally places these in the order you enter them, but for imported scores, it has no idea which was entered first. They are all staff text with the same text style, so no easy/obvious way to select all of one versus all of the other. Would have been easier had the RNA been entered as lyrics or some other element type.

As it is, I'd probably proceed by one at a time selecting the scale names that are above the RNA, Ctrl+X to cut them, then click the note they are associated with and Ctrl+V to paste them right back. now they'll be outside the RNA where you wanted them.

This is way better than moving things individually, and again, automatic placement is making this process easier, not harder - disabling it would have created a lot more work. Automatic placement is what made it possible to reverse the position of the scale and RNA with just a cut and paste, it's what kept these from colliding with the chord symbols, etc.

I have attached my version, which I did in under a minute.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

For me the biggest issue with automatic placement is not the results it generates, which overall are good. The real issue is with the dialog.

I play the flute in church and use my laptop to read the scores during mass. I was appalled when after installing MuseScore 3, a few minutes before having to play in front of a hundred people, while loading the 129 scores I would play in the following 8 hours, Musescore brought up a dialog asking if I wanted to enable automatic placement of elements... FOR EVERY SINGLE FILE... with NO option to "not ask again", like in just about every software on the planet.

It seems to me its an arrogant attitude to force people to adopt automatic placement and not give the option to disable asking you when you open every version 2 file.

In addition, MuseScore has had a bug since FOREVER on the mac, when dragging and dropping multiple files from a folder to load... the first file on the list NEVER opens in order, it always ends up opening in the middle or at the end of file openings. Musecore could definitely be friendlier with file handling.

In reply to by maximo.migliari

FWIW, the reason there is no option to disable the dialog has nothing to do with arrogance. It’s simply that the right decision really is different for every file. The way to get the dialog to go away for a single file is simply to save it after making your choice, but the next file might well want a different answer. And I think most people realized this, which is why we didn’t actually get many requests for further options regarding opening files. Still, as long as it’s not too easy for the average user to accidentally eliminate this important decision point, I’d not opposed to making it possible for those who have some special need for it.

Feel free to submit an official Suggestion to the Issue tracker for this - as I said, I don’t know that is ever formally requested before.

Not sure what you mean about opening multiple files - they should be opened in the order the OS presents them to us. But if you are seeing cases where this isn’t happening, best to start a new thread discussing that - I don’t recall anything like this ever having been reported before.

Meanwhile, though, for live performance where you won’t have the opportunity to do edits that might be required no matter which reset option you choose, best to keep using MuseScore 2 for those specific files.

Long ago I started a thread about an option to disable auto-placement in MS3. IIRC this was just after 3.0 came out and I was accustomed to working with MS2, where things stayed where I put them manually, and the vertical staff spacing was fixed, so it was like working on manuscript paper. As I recall, the issue that threw my switch was that MS3 would add space between staves to avoid collisions, causing the bottom staff to be pushed off the page entirely, and at the time I couldn't see a way to avoid this.

After being a long-time 2.3.2 holdout I am getting into using (a since-then much further developed) MS3 by converting my older scores. I am starting to see that MS3 requires some relearning and that workarounds exist for many of the issues I had before - like Marc's suggestion to effectively disable vertical staff spacing changes by setting the minimum collision-avoidance distance to a large negative value.

It's possible to disable auto-placement on individual elements or selections of similar elements existing in a score, but it might be useful to have a way of globally disabling it in advance for NEW elements to be added - sorry, but I'm still used to having things stay where I put them.

In reply to by dhfx

You can hit the "Set as style" button next to the minimum distance setting in the Inspector, so setting a large negative value there the setting that as the style for that element will have that effect. But I strongly recommend against it. I recognize things are different, but I think once you get used to it you will see they are so much better you would not dream of going back to the old days of needing to resolve all collisions manually.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Marc: I'm sure you're right, and I do appreciate the work you and others have put in. I think it's a matter of enabling one feature at a time and understanding what the effect is and how to anticipate it - essentially a matter of building trust in the algorithm.

As I said earlier, I think my main issue with auto-placement to resolve collisions was that it increased staff spacing and pushed my bottom staff off the page. Would it be possible to prevent this by adding a constraint that the other (non-colliding) staff spacings be auto-decreased so as to keep the bottom staff within the bottom margin?

In reply to by dhfx

If MuseScore is adding space, it's to avoid collisions. You can prevent it from adding space by setting a negative value for min vertical distance in Format / Style / Score. But then you have collisions. if you're OK with that - and I assume you are, as MuseScore 2 would have done the same - then you're good to go. But a better approach is to simply move elements around as needed to avoid the collisions in a way that doesn't require extra space.

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