Exporting PDF scores with "thin" staff lines

• Apr 19, 2021 - 22:46

I'm trying to work around some of Musescore's more "interesting" design decisions with the latest update, and I'm struggling to get any output that looks nice when exporting to PDF. One issue that is seriously bugging me is that of trying to get "thin" looking staff lines, so that music doesn't look quite a cluttered or muddled when exporting.

Attached is an example of what I mean. The first image shows what I see in the Musescore editor, which although rather unrealistic, is a good example of very thin staff lines:

Screenshot from 2021-04-19 22-35-23.png

The second image shows the same staff, exported as a 1024DPI PDF. As you can see, the staff lines have been made significantly thicker to the point where they are essentially the same thickness as the note lines.

Screenshot from 2021-04-19 22-37-12.png

Does anyone have any advice as to how I can coerce Musescore into giving me some reasonable output?


In reply to by harries.adam

How did you get those thin lines? They look the same as lines that have been marked as invisible - i.e. thin and grey - although they shouldn't then print, of course. It might also be that the font being used has some quirk that makes it look different onscreen to what you get when you export. Can you post your score, please, so that others can look at it and check the various attributes?

In reply to by harries.adam

Attached is my original musescore file, a PDF with default parameters, and a PDF with thin parameters. Curiously, this now seems to work, which I suspect is because I am currently using a Windows machine with MuseScore wheras I was previously using Linux to export to PDF.

In reply to by harries.adam

I'm guessing it's more about your PDF reader, it may be applying some sort of antialiaisng when displaying the PDF files to artificially thicken the thin lines. For me your PDF files look as I expect (displayed using Chrome built-in viewer). If I zoom out, the built-ion viewer does the same me for me - artificially thickens the lines so they don't disappear. But zoomed in I can clearly see everything is exactly as it should be. And if I export from my own Linux machine, I also get a PDF that behaves precisely the same way - Chrome built-in PDF viewer artificially thickens the lines when zoomed out, but zoomed in everything is clearly correct.

So, that much of the mystery is solved, I think - it's just your PDF viewer trying to do you afavor by making sure the think lines don't disappear, and probably being too aggressive about it for your tastes. Most full-featured PDF viewers would have a setting to control this.

But, there still remains the mystery - maybe - of what it is you were trying to work around in the first place. If it's just the misunderstanding about you having told MuseScore not to ask you any more but always apply the new fonts, that's also probably solved - just don't do that. But if you have a pre-.6 score that you believe looks different in some way when loaded into 3.6 even when choosing to keep the old style, we definitely want to know. So if you do have such a score (not one already re-saved in 3.6), please attach that so we can investigate that as well.

In reply to by harries.adam

Are you using the MuseScore's own export, or some sort of third party PDF pseudo-printer utility? Those are known to not work well. But using the supported export facility built into MuseScore, I had no trouble exporting a PDF with lines as thin as I wanted. So something is definitely very strange on your system. Again, you shouldn't be seeing any difference whatsoever in lines thickness between 3.5 and 3.6 when using MuseJazz, so probably whatever the problem is on your system, it starts with however you've customized settings from the defaults.

In reply to by harries.adam

I'm not talking about export settings, but the actual style settings. In another thread you mentioned importing scores from 3.5 or earlier, and applying the font changes to them. So, that's a changed import setting, which is definitely a relevant variable as well.

EDIT: I see our posts crossed and you have now posted a score, I will attempt to reproduce the issue using that.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Also, as a note, I was using Firefox’s built in pdf reader for the images I posted in the original thread - hardly an esoteric PDF reader. I also tested with Evince, which showed the same result. Additionally, the “thick” staff lines also showed up upon printing. Overall, I think the issue is with the generated PDF, not how I’m viewing it.

Would also be worth discussing what you find interesting about the staff line or note stem thickness defaults. They are actually fine tuned to differ from font to font. I gather you are using MuseJazz. These values have not changed for MuseJazz at all, so I'm not sure what you are seeing, but your scores using MsueJazz should be identical to older versions by default.

The default staff line thickness for MuseJazz is thinner than it is for Leland (0.10 sp vs 0.11). Certainly it's thinner than what is shown in your second picture, but not as thin as in your first picture. Conversely, stems are thicker by default in MuseJazz (0.20 sp), by design, so they should be much thicker than the staff lines. None of this has changed in any way in years.

So my guess is, something is wrong in your style settings or maybe anti-aliasing settings that is causing you to perceive some sort of issue on screen that you are attempting to workaround in a way that isn't working. But it's not really clear what. So you'd need a sample score and more information about what issues you are perceiving on your system.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

My issue is that I can't seem to be able to actually adjust them. This is (to me) not a question about defaults, but what happens when I change the value. The extra-thin stave lines here were purposefully created by me by setting the thickness to a humourously small value in an (failed) attempt to get thin stave lines in the exported PDF.

In reply to by harries.adam

It's a question about defaults since your initial post seemed to suggest you are seeing some sort of change in the defaults (what you referred to as "interesting design decisions". Again, nothing whatsoever should have changed about your older scores when importing - all settings should be exactly as they were. So there shouldn't have been any need to "work around" anything at all - everything should work exactly as perfectly in 3.6 as it did in older versions. The fact that you see any sort of difference is a sign that something has gone wrong with the import on your system, and this might result in some sort of strange unusual inconsistent set of style values in your scores, even before you attempt the export.

EDIT: I see our posts crossed and you have now posted a score, I will attempt to reproduce the issue using that.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Right, it does seem like there is a bug - but forgive me for thinking that a bug that looks like a formatting change, appearing at the same time as a major overhaul of the engraving engine, might be closely related.

The problem thereafter (which is the real bug) is that modifying the staff thickness value then didn’t seem to actually affect the exported score. I am fairly confident that the actual values are not the problem, but rather how some component of musescore is interpreting those values.

In reply to by harries.adam

As I said, this is entirely and completely a matter of your PDF viewer. Here is your "thin" example displayed using the Chrome viewer (and actual screenshot):

Screenshot 2021-04-20 1.24.12 PM.png

In other words, there is no bug here. The exported PDF has exactly the correct information in it - your settings are honored perfectly. It's then up to your PDF viewer and whatever settings you made there to control whether it does any of this sort of extra scaling of thin lines.

In reply to by harries.adam

I loaded your MSCZ file into my own copy of MsueScore 3.6 on Linux and exported it the same way you said - 1024 DPI PDF. Same exact result. There cannot possibly be any doubt about this whatsoever - ti's all about your PDF viewer, I absolutely assure you.

Here is the PDF I exported from your MSCZ file on Linux, as viewed in Chrome:

Screenshot 2021-04-20 1.35.17 PM.png

The file is fine. The file I generated is fine, the file you generated is fine - the only difference is between PDF viewers. Period.

In reply to by harries.adam

I believe I have read every word you've written, but if there was one word in some post you think I missed, feel free to let me know. There is no gaslighting going on here, I am simply trying to help clear up your confusion.

Attached is the actual PDF I generated from your MSCZ, on my Linux system, using 3.6, with DPI set to 1024.

As noted, when first displaying in Chrome at default zoom, the lines do appear thicker, because Chrome does that. Zoom out and they get thicker still, proportionately speaking. Zoom in, though, and it looks as shown (that was at the max zoom Chrome supports).

If I view in Adobe Acrobat, the lines are thin even in the default view. If I zoom in to the max with Adobe, it looks thinner still:

Screenshot 2021-04-20 1.52.31 PM.png

That's the exact same PDF, looking a bit thinner in Adobe than in Chrome. Proving again, not there was even the slightest remaining doubt, that different PDF viewers will handle these super-thin lines differently. And yes, I could believe that some might even do the thickening on printing.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

You clearly missed when I explained a) what my problem was (it was not about defaults, as you so confidently and incorrect asserted) and b) that the PDF files that I linked did not display the issue. "Trying to help me clear up my confusion" is a textbook example of what a gaslighter says that they're doing. If you really wanted to help with that, you might take a minute and actually read what I have written.

Regardless, I think you're going to be quite pleased that the PDFs do, as you predicted, render poorly on Firefox in Linux (as well as in Evince, which is surprising). I'll take my complaints over there now instead.

As an aside, through the course of the two posted that I submitted over the past couple of days I have had an absolutely dispiriting experience interacting with you and other members of the Musescore development team, so I think I'm going to go looking for some other software to use, as I wish to actively avoid this community in future.

In reply to by harries.adam

I didn't miss where you said that you personally didn't believe the problem was about the defaults. I get that you don't personally believe there is, but based on your actual description of the problems you were seeing, it was apparent to those of us who know exactly how the software works that there is, or at least was. So I tried to explain why even though it didn't seem to you there was a problem with the defaults, there actually was, based on your description of the symptoms.

In particular, if you perceived there to be any difference whatsoever in how your score looked between 3.5 versus 3.6, that is absolutely a problem with default style settings. And your statement that you needed to "work around" some sort of unspecified "interesting design choices" clearly suggests you were perceiving some sort of difference. And now we even know exactly what that is - your choice to tell MuseScore to apply the new defaults and not ask you again. So again, mystery solved, but that part of it was absolutely about defaults, whether you were aware of it or not.

So as far as I can tell, you came here with an issue regarding the import process, we have solved that for you by explaining how to undo the erroneous dialog box setting you made. You also came here with an issue regarding PDF export, and we've solved that for you as well, by showing you that the PDF is actually fine but that your PDF viewer is thickening the lines, as many do.

I can't really imagine what about all this free help we have provided you would not be meeting with your approval. But in any case, whatever the misunderstanding is, I'm sorry for whatever my role in that might have been, and I wish you luck with whatever other software and community you think can do better!

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