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Topic: An idea (Read 991 times) previous topic - next topic

An idea
I have an idea: I'd like to write a book - "Writing scores with NoteWorthy Composer" - or - "The ultimate guide to writing music with NWC" - or - ....

... and it might be a website, not a book: But not just some random articles about some topics that might be of interest today, but a structured thing, with a plan on what's in there and where, and how it is interlinked, and a common style (e.g.: Many examples, less text; and/or with sidebars for explanations or not; and ... whatever ...).

Who should read it, and how? Everyone who might or does use NWC - it should help everybody over every hurdle that one encounters when using NWC (and there are many hurdles, and of many sorts). Well, not everybody and not every hurdle - but many, and many. So it would be more of a handbook: Not for sequential reading, but for lookup.

And therefore it should be "use-case driven" (not an "enhanced" copy of the manual): I.e. it should be organized by typical usage scenarios - copy an existing score verbatim (or more finegrained: copy an existing single-voice, piano, hymnbook, SATB, canon, ... score); copy a ... score with different size, pagination etc.; extend a score with additional voices; write a large orchestral score (which would include printing a director's score as well as instrument voices) etc. And each of this "for print", "for playback", and "for print and playback".

It would have to be honest: Explain what NWC can't do out of the box, and can't even do with user tools and plugins - and explain how to overcome the gaps and weirdnesses.

First question: Is this worthwhile at all?
Second question: Has anyone already done this - partially or fully?
Third question: Has anyone any suggestions, ideas, convictions, advice on what to include, what not, format, technology, whatever?

Oh yes, it would be a long-term project (years); it might take long and longer, it might fail, it might ... I don't know.

But - I thought I'd ask.

H.M.

Re: An idea
Reply #1
Hmmeuller, I do believe that NWC needs (nay, deserves) a book/website as you are suggesting

But there is a huge problem:

With the advent of scripting, NWC is becoming like a chameleon - it is changing continuously.  The basic program remains the same but the number of add-ins is increasing rapidly making a book outdated as soon as it is published.  A website might be the better option.

It is not that I don't like the add-ons (thanks to people like your good self).  In fact I have a number embedded in my standards templates.  This include, for example, the winged repeats and melismatic amongst others.

My gripe is that if they are so easy to include as add-ons with scripting, why on earth were they not included in the original standard program?  Do you remember the work-arounds for the scissors for crescendo and diminuendo?  Now they are embedded within the standard program.

With a standard program that has standardised features it is possible to write a good book that lasts for a while.  Otherwise, go for the website and prepare yourself to update frequently.

Also, is it legal  to publish a book about a 3rd party  propriety program without the programmer's consent (I don't now anything about these legal things) ?

Footnote:  For all add-on programmers, please do not take this as an insult but as a plea for a standardised program.  Please keep the add-ons coming as, with the absence of in-built features, they are a boon to those who really want  good-looking and neat scores.   Maybe this can help NWC programmer(s) understand what we users want and maybe incorporate the stuff in a new version of the updated program.

There, I got it off my chest finally.  I hope that I have not let the cat amongst the pigeons.

Re: An idea
Reply #2
I think this has been discussed before, but one attraction of a scripted plugin system (especially one that does not require compilers or other special tools) is that it takes relatively little time for someone to implement a brand new feature.  While some of the objects I have created did take a while to evolve, there were a few that were almost overnight efforts. And when problems were found, or new features needed, these often happened very quickly, sometimes within hours. On the other hand, creating a new feature natively in NWC generally takes much longer, often many weeks or months. (I am speaking in general terms here.)

I think it has been suggested that the user object (and user tool) subsystems could be sort of "proving ground" for new program features. If an object is popular, and a significant number of users find it useful (or perhaps indispensable), maybe it WILL become a standard feature in a future version. Likewise, there have been numerous workarounds and tricks to achieve special spacing, slur positioning, etc. over the years, and finally in the current version we have much better control over notation appearance: finer vertical positioning and stem length, accidental, extra notehead space and augmentation dot spacing, slur positioning, and so on. Courtesy accidentals now exist as a native feature. I think much of the evolution to create these new features has been from the community of users in this and other forums, letting the NWC authors know what they like and don't like, what they need and don't need.

We will all have to wait and see what the future brings as far as the next version of NWC is concerned. I am looking forward to the next beta period (which I think is a bit overdue).

Re: An idea
Reply #3
@melismata - many thanks for your comments on my idea! Re "legal  to publish a book about a 3rd party  propriety program", I will research - but I would be shocked if there would be a problem with it.

Re the plugins, I do not see that too many people write too quickly changing plugins. And anyway, in "my" book/website/whatever, I would risk (and have) to select a limited number of plugins that are stable and have proven their usefulness (mainly for my work, as I would of course have to understand them). In case of doubt, I would rather not include a plugin in my texts ... until shown that I missed something: Which is, of course, one reason to create an (extendible) website rather than a (fixed) book ...

H.M.

Re: An idea
Reply #4
An online book could have graphics illustrating various notation scenarios.   A picture showing what the user is trying to achieve with a narrative below would be better than just the narrative, particularly since the lingo can be pretty technical or there can be different expressions for what you're trying to notate.

Re: An idea
Reply #5
Yes, pictures of all sorts - but of course, mainly score snippets and editor snippets - would/will be important. Pictures could also go into a traditional book - but online, one could also show animations, as I have tried in 2 recent postings. Has anyone looked at them, and might give me feedback whether they are useful, confusing, whatever?

H.M.

Re: An idea
Reply #6
Maybe a compilation of the various scripts, plug-ins, and functions that have been developed over the years could be put together.  Ask the writers of these various tools to describe the problem they were trying to solve along with a description on how to install/use their tool(s)--and this documentation would be sent where?  Any volunteers?
Since 1998

Re: An idea
Reply #7
Well - I do volunteer, in a way: But not immediately. I have now decided (with some help) that I will start with a blog; I do have a list of at least 20 topics I certainly want to cover, separated into "how tos" ("how to write a hymn", "... a canon", "... a lead sheet", ...), "advice" ("setting up the working place", ...) and "concepts" [or maybe "building blocks"] ("layered staffs", "user tools", "sending data from a program to another one", ...). I need some overarching structure (but writing a blog, it might just be "let's talk about ..."), there will be a table of contents; I'll think some layout decisions ... and one day (this year :) ), I'll start ...

... and then, of course, I'll take stock also of the scripts; and try to include them into my explanations - and then, of course, ask about each: Problem it solves, status (final, experimental, obsolete, ...) - they'll get their place in all that.

Right now, well, the whole thing is still in some embryonic state ...

H.M.

Re: An idea
Reply #8
I think this will be a great contribution and however you approach it, I'm sure the result will be very helpful.

I'm wondering if you've considered building it on the MediaWiki software. It seems to work well enough for Audacity:
https://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Audacity_Wiki_Home_Page
Sincerely,
Francis Beaumier
Green Bay, WI

Re: An idea
Reply #9
In Tips & Tricks there are quite a few suggestions that don't require any script or plug-in.  Some other topics might be "When to used hidden/played and visible/muted pairs of staves" or "Layered staves: when to use and how to solve problems they cause" to suggest a few.  Of course Tips & Tricks is chronological and some posts are obsolete, wrong, or posted in that section by mistake--however, going through that section as well as its sub-boards is suggested for anyone trying to compile a help page or blog.
Since 1998

Re: An idea
Reply #10
@Francis Beaumier - I thought a little your suggestion of a Wiki software and, as a consequence, a Wiki structure and Wiki "use and feel". At the moment, I think that for a start, I would like to run it as a blog, or maybe even (still not sure) as a standard website. My reasons are about the following:
  • First, a Wiki is more of a community tool, with "many" (ok, might be "some") people contributing "small"(er) pieces, which is however right now not my goal: I have enough trouble discussing and deciding with me and myself on what and how to write - forming a group and discussing such issues would go over my head, I admit.
  • Additionally, I think that the number of links or functions you see on the opening page of a Wiki (be it Audacity's, but also e.g. Wikipedia's) is too large: I would like to target my texts mainly to new users, who should see images and text useful for solving their problem - and not much more.
  • Last, this forum is an established and well-working place where our community already more or less effortlessly (good upload facility!) creates and shares advice - I'd not want to scatter that into multiple sites.

@Warren Porter - re wading through tips and tricks: Yes, thanks for that. When I start doing it (after I have written a few first texts of my own), I think I'll do it backwards in time, so that I can stop when the "diminishing returns" go below some threshold (or I simply get exhausted ...).

H.M.

Re: An idea
Reply #11
I would like to target my texts mainly to new users, who should see images and text useful for solving their problem - and not much more.
Sadly, some of us oldtimers need hints and reminders, particulary after we've taken some time off from notating music.  These forums are wonderful, but not akin to a user manual.   In particular the various user tools aren't always well described.  They need to be illustrated, their purposes explained , and how to use them set out.  What I'm saying is, please don't write the blog/webpage/whatever just for beginners. 

Re: An idea
Reply #12
This is a wonderful idea. As you know, I always have lots of questions about how to make things work. I'm sort of an old-timer, but new to learning how to make my scores look much better. I had to quickly learn the program 15 years ago and then was so busy as a musician that I didn't have time to figure out anything advanced. Now I am forcing myself to learn new tools, and going back and editing my old scores and improving new ones. I don't seem to have much luck with the search feature, and when I do search a topic, I am never sure if the information I find is the most current way to do things. I also get overwhelmed at the first hint of technical talk.

I think your blog would be a welcome addition to the great helpful community here. You could also have guest bloggers if you wanted someone else to tackle a topic.

Now I am off to figure out how to use the tremolo tool! Wish me luck.

Re: An idea
Reply #13
I see that the expectations are rising. But it will still take some time ...

@SEBC  - thanks for your comment - I'll try to suppress that "technical talk"; but some abstractions will be necessary, as with all software. And no, it will not only be newbies - "writing a Mozart symphony" might be a (later) posting, especially as some people have done this, and more.

H.M.

(Tremolo did work, I saw - congrats to you & Mike)

Re: An idea
Reply #14
II'll try to suppress that "technical talk"; but some abstractions will be necessary, as with all software.

If there are pictures to accompany the tech talk, and step by step instructions, with lots of examples, that will go a long way to help people like me who struggle to understand what's going on!

For example, with the tremolo tool, I started by reading the instructions. That didn't totally illuminate me, so I opened the example. Then, I tried and failed to make one. (Had missed a key point) Then I cut and pasted the example into my score. Then I went into the settings to figure out how it was set up. Then I asked for some clarification and googled a few notation related things, went back and was successful.

It seems like a lot of steps in the path toward enlightenment but I got there in the end!  ;)

Re: An idea
Reply #15
@hmmueller - I wasn't so much thinking of wiki software for its collaborative nature but more for the way it structures the articles. You get a lot of nice stuff on WikiMedia, such as table of contents generation, easy links to other articles, and a robust search engine. No one is saying you need to actually have more than one user, and you certainly don't need to make the front page as complicated as Wikipedia.

But if you have a vision for how to make it work on some other platform, please don't let me stand in your way. I bow down to anyone actually willing to write documentation, as it's the thing I like least about the IT world!
Sincerely,
Francis Beaumier
Green Bay, WI

Re: An idea
Reply #16
For example, with the tremolo tool, I started by reading the instructions. That didn't totally illuminate me, so I opened the example. Then, I tried and failed to make one. (Had missed a key point) Then I cut and pasted the example into my score. Then I went into the settings to figure out how it was set up. Then I asked for some clarification and googled a few notation related things, went back and was successful.
Mea culpa on the built-in instructions... I was reading them today, and they were written back before there was a built-in tool for turning notes into tremolos; the process was pretty tedious. It's much simpler now using the embedded user tool: you don't have to manually create the rest chords before-hand, or remember which note and rest duration combinations to use.  I should go back and update the instructions for my various objects to reference the embedded tools.

Re: An idea
Reply #17
it's the thing I like least about the IT world!
:))  :))  :))  :))  :))  :))

Re: An idea
Reply #18
I wasn't so much thinking of wiki software for its collaborative nature but more for the way it structures the articles. You get a lot of nice stuff on WikiMedia, such as table of contents generation, easy links to other articles, and a robust search engine. No one is saying you need to actually have more than one user, and you certainly don't need to make the front page as complicated as Wikipedia.
Ah - got it! Yes, I should do a feature comparison of "my framework" and that Wiki framework. I'll look into it ...

But if you have a vision for how to make it work on some other platform, please don't let me stand in your way. I bow down to anyone actually willing to write documentation, as it's the thing I like least about the IT world!
I don't see it as "writing documentation" (which somehow seems boring, after-the-fact work), but as - well - something completely new; where a software (like NWC) is an important point, of course, but the central point is actually "how to write scores" - and there might (and will) be advice that has nothing to do with NWC (e.g. some things I'll steal from Behind Bars ..).

It's still a plan, however ...

H.M.