MuseScore 4 must use a new file extension

• Jun 8, 2020 - 17:52

If MuseScore 4 has a different file format than MuseScore 3 and MuseScore 3 is unable to open MuseScore 4 files, then MuseScore 4 must use a new file extension.


No it must not (ans I do know that "must not" is not the opposite of "must" ;-)).
MuseScore 3 didn't use a different one from MuseScore 2 and that not a different one from MuseScore 1 and that was good. IMHO...
It just needs to import the older formats cleanly.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

I would like to add a vote for a new extension for Musescore 4

Two reasons why I would like this:

  1. Users (like me) who keep old versions of their scores produced under Musescore 2 in the same folder as later versions which have been imported to Musescore 3 and then saved can not see before they open the file which Musescore version is relevant for that score.

  2. I have some published versions produced in Musescore 2 and if I want to have another exact copy I have to use Musescore 2 to reprint them in exactly the same form as they were produced. If I open them in Musescore 3 there is a danger that if I close Musescore I will forget that I am working with an import and say yes to save changes (thinking as I have done no editing it must be referring to something like changes to the print settings only) and overwrite the Musescore 2 version which is then lost for ever. That danger would be very much reduced if after importing to the new MuseScore version and saving, the file would have a different extension.

Excel did it. .xls files still open in newer versions of Excel and can be saved as .xlsx without destroying the .xls version.

What are the reasons for not liking a new extension?

In reply to by jeetee

But Microsoft did use a new extension. They must have seen advantages as I do for Musescore, probably different advantages to those relevant for Excel but advantages nonetheless.

Of course not using a new extension is possible. But just because it is possible doesn't mean it is a Good Thing. So, to repeat the question: what are the advantages if Musescore 4 doesn't have a new extension?

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

If l understand correctly then,
in contrast to the introduction of .xlsx and xml format, there will be no changes to the .mscz file format that would break backwards compatibility. That would be good and indeed would remove the advantage of changing the extension.

In reply to by SteveBlower

That's not being said. MuseScore 1, 2 and 3 all use mscz, but did change the internal format, so older version can't read scores created with the newer versions.
Whether or not MuseScore 4 does change the file format in a similar not downwards compatible way is yet to be determined, but IHMO no good reason to change the extensions. There wasn't a good reason in the past for that and there is none going forward

But indeed if there is no (downwards incompatible) file format change, then it would be really stupid and entirely useless to change the extension.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Well, I gave some reasons (maybe you think they are not good reasons) but I have not yet heard of reasons why there should not be a change of extension. There are going to be pros and cons in changing the extension. Rather than trying to shoot down the pros, why not humour me and provide a few of the cons. Or aren't there any?

In reply to by SteveBlower

Change isn't good all in itself, so if there's no (good) pros, why needing cons?

  • Confusion. "mscz" is the MuserScore extension since Pleistocene
  • Having more extensions to load files from in the File > Open dialog
  • Adding more registry keys (Windows) for registering MuseScore for those additional extensions, similar issues for Mac and Linux, albeit using a different mechanism.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Ok, I'll take the bait :-)

  • Confusion. "mscz" is the MuserScore extension since Pleistocene

Many things have changed since the Pleistocene. Humankind can probably cope with one more change.

Personally, I find it confusing trying to keep track of which version of Musescore I last used to edit a score without the benefit of a heavy hint from the file extension.

  • Having more extensions to load files from in the File > Open dialog

a) I assume there would be a modified icon as well. I would guess most users select file by icon rather than extension. Indeed, many users probably never see the extension.

b) A different extension would avoid MuseScore 2 and 3 showing incompatible MuseScore 4 files in their open file dialogues. (Another pro for the list!)

  • Adding more registry keys (Windows) for registering MuseScore for those additional extensions, similar issues for Mac and Linux, albeit using a different mechanism.

Again, most users never see a registry key.

If it can't be done then fine; we have to live in the world of the possible. But this seems to be more of a plea to keep life simple for developers. Surely convenience for the user should have higher priority. And developers love the challenge, don't they?

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Actually the double entries in the windows registry is a good reason to duplicate extensions.
As when MuseScore 4 will be out, even more people than at MuseScore 2 time will have lot of scores that they will desire to keep under MuseScore 3 to avoid to take time to rework them.
Ability to associate MuseScore 3 extension with MS3 and MuseScore 4 extension with MS4 will be appreciated.
Now, that's on the hypothesis that the layout engine between V3 and V4 is dramatically changed as was the case between V2 and V3.
If the score format of V4 is incompatible with V3 BUT opening a V3 score in V4 displays it (almost) like it is displayed in MuseScore 3, then reason to keep MuseScore 3 active on your computer disappears, and therefore reason to have different extensions disappears as well.

In reply to by frfancha

Well ideally. They shouldn't have to rework them. If they do, its a bug that would need to be addressed. People shouldnt have to use unsupported versions where development has stopped. Eventually those stop running (maybe after a long while, maybe not). Therefore this coversation is moot. Why should anyone care their 3 score cant be opened in 2? 2 is dead. The whole point of the project is that a score i create now will run 10 years from now in a future version of musescore. I dont want to run some x86 emuator to run ancient musescore. What good is that to anyone? Forget ancient qt libraries and what not... Just thinking about that makes me realize how many extensions is a bad idea for future compaibility. compositions are forever locked in a time capsule and only good for musescore 3....I support open-source software to get away from that kind of crap.

In reply to by Joshua Pettus

No, it isn't a bug.
It is a conscious design decision of MuseScore to not spend time to implement V2 layout engine in V3.
And regarding the usage of V2 for small edit of V2 scores having complex layout adjustments, it is not my recommendation, it is the "official" (and perfectly reasonable) position of the experts on this forum.

In reply to by frfancha

Once a score has been successfully migrated from 2.x to 3.x there indeed is no reason to go back to 2.x with it.

But also, as long as the downrev version is still available and working, this is the recommended way for minor edits, like fixing a typo of a wrong pitch. Esp. if that downrev scrore uses a lot of workarounds and manual positioning that are biting back hard with the newer versions layout engine.

So far I'm not aware of any older MuseScore version to not run on newer operating systems, as far as I can tell 1.3, 2.3.2 (the last 1.x and 2,x releases) still run on all platforms that also support 3.4.2, and I have no reason to assume this would change with 4.x

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Yes, a short term solution for short term needs to get arround limmitaions earlier in the life of the project. Without development, the downrev version will stop working. Im not talkinging about musescore 4 or even 5. I mean longterm. The first thing to break would be the dependencies. Maybe Ubuntu 28.04 wont be able to run the old version of qt musescore 1 needs to compile. Then its down hill from there

In reply to by Joshua Pettus

Why would a downrev version stop to work? As far as I can tell this hasn't happend in the past 10 years, my MuseScore 1.3 still run on Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10 for example (even if the former 2 OSs are not supported any longer, by MicroSoft)
Yes, 1.3 also ran on Windows XP and Vista and those are obsolete meanwhile, but so what?

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Sorry my edit crossed with your reply. I dont know. Maybe the industry switches to arm for the desktop and earlier dependencies arnt available. Stuff happens. There are plenty of people with scores from the early 90's where they cant easily open with modern software. Heck i have scores for the powerpc mac version of melody assistant. I'm boned with a few of them.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Yes things have standadized nicely lately. But i have been burned before. Apple will be Apple, but their switch only happened in the. Mid 2000's. The killing off of 32bit executable could potentailly have caused problems but didnt so far. (Is musescore 1.3 64bit?) Point is, dont be supprised.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

"How is that a reason to tell people to spend days to upgrade all V2 scores to V3 right now???
Who does that?"

Indeed im talking about very long term which the suggestion on multiple file formats, not just extensions, effects and makes the updating task more convoluted. Going from V2 to V3 seems a pain. (Try from old xml ;)) I would hope going from v3 to v4 would be better and onward as the project matures.

In reply to by Joshua Pettus

Whatever, extensions have got nothing to do with all this
And no, going from V2 to V3 is not a pain per se. Many scores cross that border without a hitch. But indeed some don't without some bigger changes to their layout, and some very few don't at all (at least not without changing things I'd rather not change). Same for 1.x to 2.x BTW, and I have a whole set of 1.x scores that I just can't migrate without loosing the entire layout.
Again, completely independent on whether the extension gets change or not

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Whatever, extensions have got nothing to do with all this

Well yes extensions have a good deal to do with that.
Because if ( and we both agree that the answer is no ) it is necessary/highly recommended to upgrade all your scores at once from V[N] to V[N+1] when V[N+1] is out, then indeed there is no need to be able to keep a long term distinction in file extensions between V[N] & V[N+1]

In reply to by frfancha

Extensions would help a lot.
No, sure not a lot, maybe a little

What a nightmare if there is no quick easy way to know what [N] is...
Opening it will tell you on import (as of 3.x, before there's File > Score properties, not too nice indeed)

As will a decent naming schema, like a separate folders for 1.x, 2.x, 3.x. MuseScore even does that by default.
I'm using this since 10 years.
Folder "Scores" -> for 1.x (at one point I should move those to "Scores/1.x" maybe)
Folder "Scores/2.x" -> for 2.x
Folder "Scores/3.x" -> for 3.x
Folder "Scores/4.x" -> for 4.x

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

There are pros and cons for changing extension or not. I learned from many lengthy discussions like this one that it will stay like it was all the time.
But one question: would it be possible somehow to show if an MSCZ file is a V2 / V3 / V4 file in windows explorer or whatever file manager is used?
The info is available in the header of the MSCX file:
< museScore version="2.06">
< programVersion>2.0.3< /programVersion>
< programRevision>3c7a69d< /programRevision>
< Score>
< museScore version="3.01">
< programVersion>3.4.2< /programVersion>
< programRevision>148e43f< /programRevision>
< Score>
or the like.
Couldn't that be shown in the file properties?
It would make opening the intended MuseScore version significantly faster.
I'm pretty sure it is possible: Right click > properties > details in e.g. windows explorer shows detailed info about .jpg, .mp3 and many other file types. Why shouldn't that be possible for .MSCZ files?

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Consider the following (partly imagined) situation and illustration of the problems caused by the change from MuseScore 2 to 3.

Using MuseScore 2 I wrote a perfectly crafted and formatted piece for wind band comprising score + 20 odd parts. I receive a phone call: "I have lost my 3rd clarinet part". Me: "Don't worry, I will print a new one". I blow away the cobwebs from that part of my hard disc and click on the file to open it. MuseScore 3 whirrs into life. Me: "Curses! It is a MuseScore 2 file." At that stage I have the options of 1) proceeding with MuseScore 3 accepting its offer to reset everything to its default positions which produce somewhat but not exactly similar results as my careful manual adjustments made to work around MuseScore 2's shortcomings, or 2) not accepting the offer and seeing my manual adjustments cause MuseScore 3's autoplacement to do many strange and unexpected things. Neither of these options allow me to print an exact replica part straight away - or perhaps ever as I don't remember exactly what adjustments I made to every part of every piece that I wrote using MuseScore 2 and so, without opening in MuseScore 2 I don't even know what they used to look like. Time is pressing. I accept option 1), open the 3rd clarinet part tab and hit print. Then I see MuseScore 3 has made a subtle change in the layout of the part, forcing the final measure before a manually entered page break onto another page. It looks silly there on its own! It is now several minutes past the scheduled down-beat time and I can imagine the disappointed look on the 3rd clarinettists face if I turn up empty handed. So then I go for option 3): Close MuseScore 3; find MuseScore 2 (I haven't used it for ages and don't have it as a desktop shortcut and only keep it for occasions like this), open it and drag the score into it (remember, just clicking on the score again will open it in MuseScore3) and finally print the part looking exactly as it was when I made my final tweaks to slur placements two years ago and just how the 3rd clarinettist remembers it.

How much easier my life would be had the decision been made to have a .mscz3 extension for scores created with MuseScore 3. When I click on a .mscz file it would be associated with MuseScore 2 which can rouse from its slumbers and get on with the job in its old fashioned and quirky way without worrying that smooth talking johnny-come-lately MuseScore 3 at all.

When MuseScore 3 was released, I thought using the same extension for backwards-incompatible file formats was a surprising decision but as it was a done deal, there seemed little point in making a fuss. If MuseScore 4 will allow MuseScore 3 files to be opened without changing layouts even subtly then there is no problem. If not and there is an opportunity to make a fuss about file extensions before the release of MuseScore 4, well here I am making a fuss.

In reply to by SteveBlower

The whole first part of the above has nothing to do with the file format, just about layout changes. So really, it comes down to just the need to either remember it's a MuseScore 2 file (the default location is a MuseScore 2 folder, BTW) and go directly to MuseScore 2 to open it, or if you jump the gun and let it open in MuseScore 3, close it and try again. Not really seeing what the big deal is here, or what any of the stuff of about layout has to do with anything.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

You are completely missing the point.
If MuseScore 3 would have displayed MuseScore 2 files (almost) like they were displayed in MuseScore 2, then there would have no need at all to keep MuseScore 2 active on the PC, and therefore no need at all to make distinction between V2 and V3 files.
It is EXACTLY that layout issue that forces to keep both programs and therefore to have a file extension distinction.

In reply to by frfancha

Than almost any even minor version needs to have tan extension of their own, it is nut just the major version that change layout.
I quite often have to re-layout my scores, because all of a sudden some measure takes slightly more space in e.g 3.4 that it did in in e.g 3.1 and therefore results in different system and page breaks.

In reply to by frfancha

To be clear: it is the file format difference that prevents MuseScore 3 files form opening in MuseScore 2. This is completely unrelated to the score layout differences that causes MuseScore 2 files to look different in MuseScore 3. Ther two literally have nothing to do with each other. That is why we are confused by what is being written here, it seems people are assuming these facts are related when they are not.

In any case, my point was that spending a whole paragraph talking about fiddling with score layout after accidentally loading a MuseScore 2 score into MuseScore 3 is misleading. It appears the intent was to say that somehow one is doomed to doing that because we didn't change the extension. nothing could be further from the truth. Most MuseScore 2 scores look fine, or even better, in MuseScore 3. For those that don't, it takes all of a few seconds to close MuseScore 3 and one MuseScore 2 instead. The post was making it sound like it was an enormous hardship - by talking about all the time spent fiddling with layout - when that time was completely unnecessary.

Personally I'm ambivalent on the extension change. Right now it seems pretty like there would be a file format change to support the new features, so Musecore 4 files would be unlikely to open in MuseScore 3. But it's not a given that were would be many score layout changes. There might or might not, the biggest one I can think of being contemplated would probably be active only for new scores but wouldn't be anywhere near as big as the one from 2 to 3. And in any case I still don't get what's so hard about choosing to open a MsueScore 2 file in MsueScore 2 if you think it's helpful. For many files, it's not, so why force that on people?

I just found this discussion by incident. Two short comments:
1. It might be worth considering that if a file stored with an older (major) version of MuseScore is opened, a backup copy is made automatically. That would prevent to accidentally overwrite the original file.
2. It is always a good idea to have pdf exports of scores, so that a lost part would not require to open the MuseScore file...

If MuseScore 4 can save (not just open) files in MuseScore 3 format (unlikely) then it would be necessary to use a different extension for each format. Otherwise it would just be a convenience and I don't really care either way.

An option for those of you who keep files in both formats is to include the version number in the file's name rather than the extension:

  • My_Score-2.mscz (MuseScore 2 format)
  • My_Score-3.mscz (MuseScore 3 format)
  • My_Score-4.mscz (MuseScore 4 format)

Putting the number in the name rather than the extension has the advantage that it will not be hidden on Windows. We could even provide an advanced option in MuseScore to save files this way by default.

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