MuseScore 3.0 at 4 months
MuseScore 3.0 was released on Dec 24, 2018 much to my objection. Basically it was a disaster. It didn't work well at all and for most of the last 4 months I've limited my use of it to helping others understand it.
I have been doing a post each month to give my opinion of how it has progressed. Last week was just a bad week for me. I forgot a lot of things, including that it included April 24.
First I want to thank Anatoly-os, who is the project manager for taking my rants seriously. He hasn't made a big deal publicly about it, but I've seen how these rants have affected some of the decisions he's made in updating version 3. When I publicly complained that version 3.0 was released, I promised that I would publicly endorse it when the time came. After 4 months of a lot of hard work on the part of employees and volunteers for MuseScore, the improvements are impressive.
Since version 3.1-beta was released on April 11, I have been using it for everything. I even transferred some of my projects I've been working on from version 2. With a little bit of practice, this is not a bad process. There has been much discussion about this and I hope anyone having problems asks. There are a lot of people, including myself, willing to give advice to make it easier.
I will start with the few criticisms that prevent me from totally endorsing 3.1. If you want to do a large score, forget continuous view. It slows down quickly and is not usable for large scores. It isn't too bad on smaller scores. I've been working on a string quartet in it and it works well. I mostly do symphonic pieces so I don't usually use continuous view in version 3. I always used continuous view in version 2 and would like to be able to use it on large symphonic score. I know there are people trying to figure it out, perhaps they will do that during beta 2 testing which is expected to start tomorrow.
The next complaint is playback, especially in continuous view but also in page view. It stutters, jumps, sounds like a synthesizer gone haywire and so forth. Since most of these complaints are from version 3.0.5 and earlier, I know they aren't all related to improvements found in 3.1-beta. Once this and continuous view speed are fixed, I will whole hartedly endorse MuseScore 3 for everyone.
One more shortcoming is the lack of an album feature. There has been discussion of this among programmers so I expect that it will be returned to MuseScore this summer much better than it was in 2.0 as has been expected since 3.0 was released.
Now for the best part. 3.1 will have so many improvements over 3.0 that I'm sure I'll miss something important. The long requested single note dynamics will be implemented. It even works on existing scores! This may be reason enough to import many scores to version 3. As an added bonus there is a new sound font that promises to make your score sound even better.
For those that have been asking to get rid of automatic placement, first I say that you need to learn to use it. It's a great improvement and the main reason I want to use version 3. The second thing I have to say is that it will be much easier to turn it off if you need to. I turn it off at times on certain items so they will go where I want them, but I would never want to totally turn it off.
Part of the reason people want it turned off is because import from version 2 does not give the exact results of in version 3. This is being worked on as I type. Someone is making it easier to disable auto placement as well as improving import from version 2 in the process. As I said earlier. If you have problems importing scores from version 2, ask for help, you'll get it.
Among the most popular instrument for music writing in MuseScore is the Guitar. Fretboard diagrams are being totally revamped, in fact this improvement delayed the release of the next beta by a day. I believe this is going to be a big deal for Guitar composers.
Piano is another really popular instrument to write for. Most of the issues with writing for piano have been fixed. These improvements include cross-staff notation issues being fixed and better placement of fingering. Everything in the fingerings palette works better, so it will also be better for plucked instruments like the guitar and its relatives.
Another feature added is called linearization. This "unrolls" the score so you can see the order the measures will be played when all of the repeats and jumps are taken. This can be used to ensure you have properly matched up your repeats and entered all of the jumps.
One of the most common complaints has been that the style window is too large and that it hides itself and seems to freeze MuseScore. This dialog has been greatly improved and hopefully all of the problems with it have been fixed.
One of my biggest complaints about version 3.0.5 was that barlines were in such a bad state that I couldn't even make adjustments. Barlines now work very well. It's a little different than it was in version 2.3, but I like the changes.
Version 3 is very near to the point that you can use it for everything. There is of course room for improvement and bugs that will always be found and fixed, but this is true of every large program ever written.
I encourage everyone to download the second beta when it's released tomorrow (later today in Europe) and test it. Your feedback will be vital in finding bugs and getting them fixed for the final 3.1 release, which I hope will be soon.