JetStream Finale Controller – Introduction to Stream Deck

JetStream Finale Controller – Prologue

I remember first hearing in early 2018 that some copyists working at JoAnn Kane Music in LA were using a new type of gaming controller called Elgato Stream Deck to speed up their workflow in Finale and Sibelius (in the case of Finale, no doubt in conjunction with with some sort of Macro program such as Keyboard Maestro).

While not designed specifically for music notation, the original Stream Deck is a perfect productivity companion for Finale. Stream Deck expands on the best features of previous hardware and software controllers.

Like the XKEY system, the original Stream Deck has tactile hardware keys (there is now also an iOS version).

One advantage of the hardware version of Stream Deck for a controller is that the tactile button design allows you to keep your eyes on the music on the main computer screen as you work.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

The XKEY system allowed you to print custom graphics icons and slide them under the key covers; the idea is great for music notation, but while it’s practical, it’s not very flexible. On the other end of the spectrum, iOS apps can be more flexible with color coding and other graphical attributes for virtual buttons, but to date haven’t contained useful iconography related to music notation software. (MetaGrid has note duration icons and some other related graphics, but even this is more generic).

Stream Deck takes a completely different approach. Each of Stream Deck’s 15 keys is a fully customizable backlit LCD. (the newer Stream Deck XL hardware has 32 keys).

As an example, here are some buttons for selecting tools in Finale, showing how they might appear in a TouchOSC or Lemur layout for iOS. Users will quickly learn what these buttons do, but initially, seeing these words representing Finale tools without any additional context isn’t very clear:

Finale Tool Selection Keys in Lemur Finale Controller for iPad

But Finale users will instantly know what each of these tool buttons represent in Stream Deck, because each of these familiar icons is associated with a specific tool selection in the Finale application itself:

Finale Tool button graphics in JetStream Finale Controller
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JetStream Finale Controller – Prologue

If you have spent any time with MakeMusic’s Finale™ music notation application for Mac or PC, especially recently, you are no doubt well aware of what a powerful software tool it is.

Finale has an enormous wealth of features under the hood, but getting to some of these power tools quickly is not always straightforward or intuitive.

Finale has a few keyboard shortcuts hardwired to various tasks. For instance, number keys correspond to durations during note entry as they do with all scoring programs. However, as of Finale 26. Finale still does not offer user programmable keyboard shortcuts to access the majority of its menus and functionality.

So, historically, users of Finale have had to figure out their own solutions to speed up workflow. Finale itself offers some very powerful plugins, and two different scripting languages; FinaleScript and JW Lua designed to increase productivity.

But, how are you supposed to access all of these productivity tools quickly without something as basic as user customizable keyboard shortcuts?


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Finale 26.2 Hotfix update

This is an addendum to the announcement yesterday of the Finale v26.2 update; This is mostly important for users who already installed the original v26.2 update; version 26.2.0.456.

Shortly after releasing Finale version 26.2 yesterday, MakeMusic became aware of an issue in which the document setting for “Under/Outer Note” ties was placing the tie end too far to the left of the notehead.

The good news is that this problem lives in Finale’s drawing engine, meaning that your document data is safe and unchanged.

Another issue was reported for documents set to “Keep Current” for grace note spacing, where if Music Spacing is applied, horizontal positioning of grace notes can unexpectedly be altered. 

MakeMusic has already fixed and fully tested these two issues, and have pushed out a hot fix today. If you have already installed v 26.2, you will get another in-app notification to install the 26.2.1 hotfix next time you launch Finale.

The main installer downloads have been updated as well as of today.

Finale 26.2

Finale has released the latest maintenance update to Finale 26; version 26.2.

Since introducing Finale 26, which had several major new features, much of the focus of development has gone into technical improvements under the hood; admittedly, unglamorous architectural work designed to bring Finale into the future.

This means that while you may not see much change on the surface with this point upgrade, the underlying code is being updated dramatically.

According to the Finale Blog article from October of this year, senior manager of the Finale product development team Jason Wick stated: “The architectural work that we’ve been doing modifies hundreds of thousands of lines of code and those changes are investments in the long-term viability of Finale.”

The Finale 26.2 point release is a continuation of MakeMusic’s “long game” trajectory. For instance, on Mac, this update ensures that Finale v26 is compatible with macOS 10.15 Catalina.

Nearly all of what is going on with this update is laying the code base groundwork for future, larger improvements and features. This will mean that significant new features will be easier to implement in the future.

Performance

In working with Finale 26.2 over the last couple of days on Mac, while I can’t provide any scientific evidence to back it up, it seems more responsive overall to me than the previous Finale 26 versions.

Library / House Style Improvements

Finale’s libraries now retain more information. A subtle, but nice enhancement to Finale 26.2 are the inclusion of Page Format for Score and Parts as well as Guides when you export / save a Library.

Finalescript

FinaleScript’s import options commands now import all associated options.

ARIA Player

Finale’s ARIA Player has been updated to v1.959 in the full Finale installer. if you would like to download the update directly, the ARIA Player v1.959 installer is available in the MakeMusic Download Library

Patterson Beams Plug-in

The Patterson Beams Plug-in has been updated to so that grace notes and resized notes appear more elegantly. Stem lengths and beam angles look like they would at full size, and place themselves more appropriately within the staff lines.

Installers

The various Finale installers for the application, Aria player and on Mac ReWire are now compliant with current OS security protocols. Finale users on both platforms can be more confident that their software install is safe and stable.

On Mac, for instance, Finale executables such as ReWire now comply with Mac notarization standards. The Apple notary service is an automated system that scans the software for malicious content, checks for code-signing issues, and provides alerts to any potential problems.

I’ve been using the update in my regular work on Mac now for a few days, and everything is really stable on Mac (which as a professional user as you can imagine is very important).

I’m also please to report that v26.2 is excellent with my (free) JetStream Finale Controller, which you may have been hearing will be released this year.

Summary

In summary, my recommendation is to update. Finale 26.2 is a free maintenance upgrade for all Finale 26 users, which is paving the way for future functionality and power.

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