MuseScore 3 at 5 months - Ready for Prime Time
In a few hours it will be exactly 5 months since version 3.0 of MuseScore was released. As I've not been hesitant to express here, I was appalled when that happened. My biggest concern was that people would upgrade it with expectations that it would be the next great thing only to find it was the next great flop. I was concerned they would abandon MuseScore forever as a result.
It turns out that a lot of people disappointed by version 3 have remained with version 2 instead. This is good. They continue to visit this forum an hear of the improvements being made to version 3. Less than 24 ours ago the 3.1 release candidate was released in hopes of finding bugs that we can't live with in version 3.1. The more testers of the Release Candidate the better version 3.1 can be.
I want this to end on a positive note, because 3.1 is a huge upgrade over previous versions, so I'll start with room for improvement.
Auto placement still has room for improvement. It's far better than it was in version 3.0.5, but there are going to be some more small tweaks in the future. As expected the Album feature is not back, but my expectation is that it will be here in the next few months. When it comes out, I hope its as big an improvement as the rest of the new features in version 3.1.
Continuous view might be the current feature that needs the most work. It's now much faster than it was in 3.0.5. For the user, it seems to be about the same as 2.3.2 was, though one test says it's faster. If you turn off autoplace globally, its REAL fast. The problem is that by default the staves all run together. There are some ideas being floated to improve this and we'll see what happens in the next few releases.
My biggest concern is still exporting to XML. This needs to be improved so those who transfer scores to braille can do so easier.
On the subject of improvement, hairpins and dynamics lines need to work better. There is talk about allowing a dynamic range of voice, which will be a huge improvement. Hairpins are not easy to assign to a voice and dynamic lines are almost (if not totally) impossible to put into other than voice 1.
Search the blogs to see what's being worked on for GSoC 2019 this summer. I think everyone will be looking forward to at least one of the projects. I look forward to following the progress of the 4 students who were selected.
3.1, in my opinion, is worthy of being called 4.0 for all of it's new features and improvements.
First, entering scores in page view is easy. There's little necessary in the way of manual adjustments and those that are necessary are now so easy. I will only use continuous view for the largest of scores, that I can't possibly fit on any standard page size. It does still need much improvement for those of us who want to use it.
Auto placement is much less stringent that it was in previous versions. Most of the time you can simply drag an item a little and it will look nice. Selecting it and pressing x will move it to the other side of the staff. It unbelievably simple. Importing version 2 scores is now better, but that will still need to be improved. If you really hate auto place and don't want to learn to use it, you now have the option to disable it completely.
Single note dynamics playback is a great feature that has been asked for as long as I've been hanging out in these forums. You can use it for almost any sound font, even your favorite existing sound fonts. This is a huge improvement.
In both of these cases, it's vital to keep in mind that you need to use them properly to get the benefits of them. I'm sure there will be efforts to update the handbook for the new features and there are plenty of us here in the forums willing to help you to understand them.
The fretboard diagrams have numerous improvements as well. Many bugs and feature requests have be included. People who use these will really like it I think.
The ability to double and halve the duration of notes is another feature that's been asked for as long as I've been in the forums. In version 2 you could do it with a plug in plus a little extra work, now you can do it as easy as copy and paste. On the subject of changing the duration of notes, you can now change the durations of several notes at a time as long as they don't lead to a conflict. Some limitations are that you can't press the . to add a dot to a note and the (shift) w & q shortcuts don't work on multiple notes either.
Most of the issues related to duplicate time signature and key signatures have been fixed. I haven't run into any issue with these through a lot of Beta (and nightly) testing so hopefully these are all fixed.
Barlines are now a pleasure to work with. I was concerned when the initial changes were made and frustrated when they didn't work properly, but now they are better than they were in version 2.
There have been a lot of improvements in the area of cross staff notation. There might be a few bugs related to slurs left to clean up, and these will be found once more people start using 3.1. You can now actually create a complex piano or harp score rather than going back to version 2 to do it. It seems almost all of the beams and tuplets separating have been fixed as well.
Creating parts is now far better. There were a several bugs related to this that have been fixed, most of them related to key and time signatures.
Finally, perhaps the biggest change is one you probably won't even notice. It's the way MuseScore breaks down a measure into individual notes. This was totally rethought and applied to the existing code. A few new bugs were found and quickly fixed. I suspect the number of corrupt files we see and files that won't upload to musescore.com due to corruptions will greatly decrease if not vanish.
Anatoly-os, the program manager has said he would give credit to those who contributed to version 3.1 so I will leave that to him. I do want to point out that Marc Sabatella, James Thistlewood, Dmitri Ovodok and Werner Schweer have contributed so much to this new version that they deserve a huge hand.
Anatoly-os will not mention everyone who is responsible for making version 3.1 the great release it is. He cannot possibly mention every programmer who wrote a line of code to improve the program and translator who contributed to the translation into over a dozen complete languages and partially into another 50 or so. A couple of days ago a Polish user, who is not a translator, contributed by asking for a typo to be fixed in his translation. I don't know his name, but he shares in the credit for this program. The "testers" are a vital part of this open source process also. They are users like you and me who downloaded the program and found a problem or a way to improve the program. Several of us have written issues in the issue tracker, while others have reported the problems in the forum so the proper issues could be created by someone else. All of these are important to making 3.1 what it will be in a few days when it's released.
As always, I encourage my fellow MuseScore users to report problems with the program and to feel free to ask for help in using it. I think everyone helping in the forums are friendly and willing to help.
Finally, when the next beta gets released (no one knows when that will be), help test it so version 3.2 will have fewer problems than 3.1 will. I know that feedback during the beta testing for 3.1 led to many of the improvements that are included in 3.1.
I expect this to be my last monthly report on MuseScore's development from 3.0. These started due to my shock at the release of 3.0 I promised Anatoly back in December that I would be as vocal in my support when then time was right as I was in my criticism at the 3.0 release. I hope this is sufficient to fulfill my promise. Anatoly also told me I would be happy with 3.1. When the first 3.1-beta was released I had my doubts but today I'm very happy with it's current state. I think the future of MuseScore is in good hands with Anatoly.