Update on Playback and Installation for MuseScore 4

• Feb 16, 2022 - 20:40

Hi everyone,

In previous posts, I’ve briefly described the playback library Muse has been developing, which we intend to offer as a free external plugin for MuseScore 4. Although we are not quite ready to provide teaser examples of how this library will sound, I thought I’d quickly describe how we are designing the downloading and installation process. This process will not be in place for the upcoming alpha release but will be fully testable for beta.

The two challenges we faced were:

  • How to reliably download and install the library, given that it is going to be around 7GB in size
  • How to ensure that it ‘just works’ upon installation

We’ve gone through quite a few iterations on the ideal experience and have landed on the following.

On our download page, there will be two options: for those who want to install MuseScore without the external library, the experience will be unchanged. For those who do want the library, the link will first download a Hub application that can securely and quickly manage the download of both the library and MuseScore itself.

At this point you might be thinking: "Hold on, I thought you said this was going to be simple? You've added another installation step!" Well, yes. As a person who is generally not a fan of download managers and hub applications, I was also sceptical of this option at first but am now confident that it will provide the ideal experience. Read on!


The hub application will be very small in size and will download very quickly. Once opened, it will display two options (see the draft sketch below):

Wireframe_Installer_Small.jpg

The user can now immediately install both options without any complications: no sign-in requirements or verification process. It's worth also mentioning that there will be no tracking systems or advertising either.

To handle the millions of downloads we are expecting, we are utilising P2P sharing to speed up download time and reducing server load. If you would prefer to switch off P2P sharing, we will provide clear controls to do so, although this may slow down your download speed significantly

Once the library is installed, MuseScore will automatically prompt you to activate it, like this.

Activate_External_Library.png

The hub application is being designed to handle both library and MuseScore updates as well. Should the library be updated, it would only download the necessary files rather than the entire library all over again. And when a new release of MuseScore is available, updating it would take just a single click.

We’re really excited about the possibilities of the new playback engine and hope that, with the new hub app, we can streamline the end-to-end experience of installing MuseScore and our external library. In turn, we hope it will encourage many new composers to try out and enjoy working with MuseScore.

Please let us know your thoughts on this plan.

Best wishes,
The MuseScore team


Comments

In reply to by knoike

We're thinking most likely not. There are a few factors playing into our thinking. One of our primary reasons is security. There is a worry that exposing the company's network infrastructure could open a number of possibilities for hackers, ultimately causing harm to users. For example, we don't want to make it possible for malicious actors to release a modified version of the hub application that would download and install malware on users' computers.

Of course, this has no bearing on MuseScore, which will always remain free and open source. The only change we have made for MuseScore 4 is a license switch from GPL2 to GPL3.

In reply to by Tantacrul

Somewhat related: regarding systems based on repositories (like many Linux distributions), how could the library, hub and MuseScore installations be coordinated by a repository? Or putting it in another way: will it be possible to install MuseScore and the library without the hub?

I'm far from being a specialist in Linux repositories, but perhaps if the hub was not mandatory repositories could handle the process through versions and dependency checks.

In reply to by Tantacrul

To be honest, I don't think security concerns are a valid reason for not opening up the client application. If you plan to perform downloads via anything else than HTTPS - please don't. ;)
For P2P downloads there are other more or less established protocols too. Therefore, I see no reason for security concerns on your end. I do understand that it's a different story for the server side. Keeping your filesystem structure safe and not opening up about your server's security measures, seems legitimate to me. But for the client side, this really sounds like a Microsoft argument - a nice excuse for "inadvertently" forgetting to put in a "Disable telemetry about your app usage, behavior, family, friends and whole life" button . And I don't trust Muse Group in the slightest, I trust MuseScore. It's open source and everyone can see when it's being tampered with. I also trust you, making MuseScore awesome. But making the hub closed-source seems to be one of the worst decisions in MuseScore development history to me.

Best Regards
Adrian

In reply to by famecastle

Although I can't appeal to your levels of trust towards Muse group, what I can tell you is that I am involved in the development of this installer and I can assure you that are no telemetry or statistic gathering features being included in it.

To gather personal data of any kind without explicitly stating it in a privacy policy would break the basic terms of GDPR and would invoke heavy fines. It is completely not in our interest to do that. I would also not work on products that violate the basic privacy of its users and neither would any of my team members.

It is also worth mentioning that the vast majority of outrage towards Muse (regarding privacy) last year were due to catastrophic misreadings of an Audacity privacy policy. Those misreadings were not facts. All we had to do was simply rewrite the privacy policy to be more coherent (and accurate) and made no corresponding technical changes to Audacity whatsoever.

Muse's mistakes last year were not having the right staff in place to create coherent privacy policies, not describing their plans to their communities and poor PR handling. They have since dedicated a lot of time and resources to ensure that we have the right people in place to never let these kinds of issues happen again.

I am personally quite forceful when it comes to issues related to privacy because 1. I can't stand clandestine, tricky data collection. 2. Muse scandals affect me personally, since I am the most recognisable figure leading MuseScore and Audacity and people tend to come to my door to express their displeasure.

Edit: ...and that displeasure can be harsh, believe me.

In reply to by Tantacrul

Thank you for your extensive answer! (It took me a while to notice).

Well, it's indeed more of a feeling that I had
against Muse rather than hard facts. You know, those feelings like "better don't go with the recommended privacy settings of a big corporation", "be skeptical if an open-source product comes with closed-source components" or "don't eat yellow snow". The second one, especially, got my alarm bells ringing. Together with the Audacity affair (indeed, I wasn't aware of the details and that it was just a misunderstanding) and some design decisions (like almost always placing a "big discount" countdown banner on musescore.com; don't know if I recall correctly but might it have even held a personalized countdown that suggested you'd be in hurry to get the discount?), I got quite bad feelings about the Muse group.

Now, you've clarified things and your arguments to counter my concerns sound very understandable. Knowing that, I have better feelings. And honestly, I wouldn't really have expected anything else from you as a MuseScore lead person. Though, I'm wondering about the actual technical reasons that would make open-sourcing the hub client impossible. But hearing that you don't intend to do anything shady here is already enough for me.

Thanks and don't make me come to your door ;)
Adrian

Sounds as very sensible and is consistent with how other software provides access to "add-on" libraries.
And perhaps in the future you may even add extra libraries and allows a smaller footprint of the application when it is not required/desired to use it.

You really know how to "teas" people, can't wait to test/play with this! Nice work!

Would it be possible to offer individual instrument downloads without the need for a download manager? I only require nylon string guitar and there must be many users who also only require a single instrument. We might even be able to build up a more complete instrument library by adding other single instruments as needed.

In reply to by yonah_ag

We won't be able to provide that specific option, unfortunately. It is a good idea though, which I'll suggest to the team to see what we can do but it won't be a change we'll see for 4.0.

Apart from that, there may be guitar-specific libraries that one can download in future but that is likely a long way away. What I would suggest in the meantime would be to use a decent VST instrument instead, since MS4 will have basic VSTi support that we will be expanding on in updates of 4.x.

Sounds like a really good idea! It might be nice, as @yonah_ag said, to be able to download and import only some instruments and not the whole library.
Also, do you plan to go through Hub to install other add-ons than the library? We can think for example of plugins or styles of partitions.

Besides, wouldn't it be better to focus on the Musescore playback system, which obviously doesn't work (it goes very slowly and the sound is not that of the chosen instrument)? This was to be fixed in the alpha releases scheduled for January. It might be interesting to write a new Update, so that we can also follow the progress of Musescore 4.
I think we are all very excited for its release.

  • Bastien.

In reply to by Bastien Vlc

The core playback events system is almost finished. Once merged, we will proceed to alpha.

A point on organisation: we do not all work on one thing. The team members working on playback and sound libraries are not the same people who are working on installation and onboarding.

I'm wondering what the plans are for vsti support are for musescore 4?

Would I reliably be able to replace my DAW in terms of effects, instruments, etc. Do you plan on including default EQ, Compression, etc?

Does it support CC automation and keyswitching, and can I program my keyswitches in libraries such as EQHW to different articulation options (the keyswitch for stacatto for instance, to match the stacatto icon visually) without it messing up the notation?

Greetings from India
I want to know if there are any new Instruments added in this Update?
I had been on the search to add some Indian Instruments like Tanpura But I cant Find Them
It Would Be nice If there are some Classical Indian Instruments added In this Update
:D

Will the orchestra addon be free? Also I cannot figure out how to change the instrument sound in the soundfont, I also cant figure out how to select a soundfont. Musescore 3.6.2 is so much easier to use, Musescore 4 seems overly complicated and its UI is not very nice looking compared to Musescore 3.6.2, Musescore 4's Ui is very flat and minimalist which to me is very ugly. Also why are the menu bar labels so tiny? I need a magnifying glass. I'm using a Laptop with a display resolution of 1920x1080. So far I'm not impressed at all. I think if I want to notate a song, I will stick with Musescore 3.6.2, Musescore 4 is a mess and it is unnecessarily overly complicated and its UI looks like the dog's breakfast.

In reply to by dmusicman

Indeed, the playback system isn't done yet, so sit tight on that.

It's already been announced the additional sounds with be free, yes.

As for font sizes, unfortunately every system is different in terms of how it reports display resolution, especially in regard to high DPI displays. MsueScore 3 was notorious for often getting this wrong and displaying with tiny text or icon, or huge ones. MuseScore 4 does things differently, and often looks correct on systems where MuseScore 3 looked wrong, but unfortunately, the reverse is true as well. On any system where the display resolution is not communicated correctly, there are workarounds to get programs that rely on this info to behave correctly. So some of the same workarounds that many people needed on MsueScore 3 will apply to MsueScore 4 as well. On my Linux system, for instance, I need to set the environment variable QT_SCALE_FACTOR to a value that gets more score to display life-sized (same size on screen as the actual sheet of paper), and then all my text and icons are correct as well. On MuseScore 3, I needed a different workaround. On Windows, you might need to play with the high DPI settings in the Compatibility section of the Properties dialog on the EXE file. Again, every system is different, so unfortunately there is and never had been any one-size-fits-all solution.

As for flat versus artificially "3-D" looking icons, that's purely personal choice, but FWIW, the MuseScore 3 interface was produced by programmers, the MuseScore 4 by professional user interface designers. So those of us accustomed to old-school "WIndows Vista" types of looks definitely find newer-looking interfaces a bit odd at first, but we are also experienced enough to get used to it. And I think the vast majority of users don't share our quirky preference for old-school interfaces.

OIther than the look of the interface, though, really almost nothing has changed in terms of how you actually use it, as you will discover if once the alpha is ready and you can actually try out all the features. The only things that have changed appreciably are the playback controls - which are becoming simpler but also more powerful - and a few other things here and there like the Inspector, which is now far more powerful but also renamed Properties.

I really appreciate what the Musescore team have been doing and I have been following the updates on the official page quite closely. But I would like two things addressed. Firstly, when will Musescore 4 be released? I cannot wait to try out the beta. Secondly, much more subtle, I'm not a fan of the treble clef in the Leland font. It is mostly fine, but the shaded rounded part that hangs down from the main clef just seems too big for me. It looks as though the entire clef would rock side to side on the staff line from the weight of the enormous bob that it is suspending. Just have a look before the next font version comes out.

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