11/17/15 : Today, following numerous teasers on the @finaleofficial twitter feed in the last few days, MakeMusic has released an incremental, but significant update to Finale 2014 they have dubbed “2014.5”. Although this is a maintenance update to Finale 2014, the installer leaves your original Finale 2014 application in place, allowing you to have both Finale 2014 and Finale 2014.5 installed at the same time. (You’ll have to redo your Finale workspace preferences and install any 3rd party plugins for this version, but in my opinion, well worth the few minutes this will take.)
Finale 2014.5 has a new installer framework for both the Mac and PC, which should provide a more pleasant install experience for most users. For instance, on the Mac, the installer no longer throws up a message asking if you want to open a file from an unidentified developer.
On the Mac, the splash screen and dock icon have a modern, minimalistic flat look:
A number of plugins have been updated. For instance, plugins which do not apply to Linked parts are now properly disabled when editing a linked part.
In addition, a few plugins have been removed because they have finally become actual features; a welcome addition. For instance, Apply Human Playback is now part of the MIDI tool menu, and the Change Noteheads utility has been updated to include the functionality of the depreciated Change Noteheads plug-in.
Finale is no longer restricted to playback at 44.1 kHz and can play at any sample rate supported by the selected audio output device. Additionally, some safeguards have been built in so that Finale should seamlessly switch to another output device rather than crashing when you remove an audio device while FInale is open.
There have been some updates to MusicXML and new support for EPUB3 for export. Finale now includes a template and a FinaleScript to create large print music for people with visual impairments according to the Modified Stave Notation (MSN) standard. There are clearly labeled typeset and handwritten versions of the Latin Percussion styles.
It appears that the Mic Notator feature for transcribing audio performances has been removed, but you can still record an audio track into a Finale document.
Finale 2014.5 has added a few very useful new features. One of my favorites is the new Automatic double barlines before key changes feature. This is found in Document Options > Barlines. So nice to finally be able to have double barlines automatically appear properly before all key changes in a score!
This is yet another feature that depreciates a plugin, in this case the Automatic Barlines plug-in has been removed. And, I was pleased to see that this global feature can be overridden in individual measures by choosing a new Barline style from the Contextual menu on a case by case basis. However, it’s a bit strange that, at least on the Mac, the regular Measure Attributes dialog does not also override the global setting.
Another favorite addition of mine is Reorder staves. You may remember Reorder Staves appeared as a feature in an earlier version of Finale for a short time but was pulled because there were some catastrophic problems with it. I haven’t had a chance to give this a complete workout yet, but judging from it’s reappearance, MakeMusic’s programmers figured out what was wreaking havoc with the feature, which allows you to change the vertical order of multiple staves and groups at the same time. Assuming the feature is now fully vetted, I know I am going to be using this a lot.
If you create Smart Music content, you will no doubt appreciate the improvements in audio quality as well as some new interface options for both automatically and manually correcting possible issues.
MakeMusic is also included an update to 10.5.8 of its scanning software with Finale 2014.5; called SmartScore X2 Lite. According to the read me file, this update offers improvements in recognition of beams, augmentation dots, tuplets, and other musical elements.
Finale’s online user manual has been significantly updated with an all new navigation structure, and a better search feature. In terms of accessibility, I’ve always felt that Finale’s “available anywhere” user manual was superior to the user guide of its nearest competitor (e.g. a static PDF file), and one of the additional improvements to this update is that it is designed to format nicely on a variety of mobile devices like a tablet or smartphone, so it can be referenced anywhere from mobile browsers. Great to see MakeMusic forward thinking here.
Finally, while admittedly not as sexy as new features, I think many Finale users will really appreciate the long list of bug fixes in this update for both Mac and PC. A number of crashing issues which users were experiencing with Finale on the newest Mac operating systems El Capitan and Yosemite operating systems have been fixed.
One of my favorite bug fixes is a long standing issue with Parts that have slashes in their names (e.g. Piano / Vocal). These now can be saved properly as PDF files. Also, notably, efforts have been made to improve Finale’s performance. If you are a Finale user who has been experiencing slow performance in 2014, you will no doubt find the results of my colleague Philip Rothman’s benchmark tests of interest.
Particularly if you are a longtime Finale user as I am, I know you are going to appreciate all of the work that has gone into this update.
If you are a registered Finale user, you’ve probably already received an announcement of this update with a download link, or will very shortly. New users can visit the Finale Product Page to download Finale 2014.5 for your platform.