Music notation software has evolved considerable over the last 20 years, A goal for Finale and the other big players in this space continues to be automation; eliminating, as much as possible, the need for manual edits.
For instance, as of Finale 26, when you add more than one articulation to a note, they stack intelligently; and automatically adjust to avoid collisions with slurs. But collision avoidance of articulations is just the starting point for any good layout.
What if you could just enter notes and rests, articulations, phrasing and text, define a page size and margins, and the software would automate nearly all of the little details to make the music look great on the page? Magical, right?
If you are already using JetStream Finale Controller, hopefully by now, you’ve had a chance to explore and enjoy many of its time-saving productivity functions, which range from simple tool and menu selection to multi-step productivity macros for Finale.
There are currently close to one thousand functions in the Stream Deck versions of JetStream, with almost 500 functions in the Keyboard Maestro version. The first point release update to JetStream v1 was released on November 1st.
If you have been using Finale more than a few minutes, you are probably already using a few keyboard shortcuts to keep from having to reach up and click on various tools and menu items on the screen over and over.
Shortcuts, Shortcuts, Shortcuts
First, there are the built in System level shortcuts found in all Mac and Windows programs; e.g. Open, Cut, Copy, Paste, Undo, Save, Save As, Print, Close, Quit. This group of shortcuts is not editable, obviously, since they are system wide.
Let’s face it. With competition between music notation software programs heating up as never before, Finale, long the patriarch of modern notation software programs, continues to improve, but in some ways, is showing its age.
It’s not that Finale doesn’t have the power and flexibility of its competitors. Far from it. After 26 years, you can still make a valid argument that Finale is every bit as powerful as its competitors, capable of producing high quality output on par with anything else out there.
I was recently asked to rebar an extended section of a score containing various time signatures 4/4, 2/4, 3/4 into 3/2 time. Fortunately, what could have been a hugely labor intensive and messy operation became a whole lot easier in Finale, thanks to Jari Williamsson’s “JW Meter and Rhythm” plugin. This plugin consolidates quite a number of useful operations related to meter and rhythm into one suite.
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?
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.
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’s import options commands now import all associated options.
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.
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.
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.