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forScore 10.3.5

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Today we’re happy to announce the immediate availability of forScore 10.3.5 and forScore mini 3.3.5. These are some big updates, so we wanted to take a moment to dive in and explain some of the most significant changes we’ve made and why.

PDFKit

Introduced over a decade ago with OS X 10.4, PDFKit is a framework created by Apple to simplify working with PDF documents. It uses the same basic functions and techniques that we’ve been using in forScore since 2010, but with added functionality and compatibility (Apple’s many skilled engineers are far more effective at supporting all of the different variations of the thousand-page PDF specification than we are).

This year Apple brought their framework to iOS 11, and we’ve been working steadily since then to take full advantage of it. forScore 10.3 brought text-based PDF document searching and also updated the Bookmarks menu’s Table of Contents list, making it faster and more reliable. With versions 10.3.2 we passed the job of displaying embedded PDF annotations off to Apple, working around a nasty bug that made the older process of reading annotations painfully slow on iOS 11. Using PDFKit instead means that more kinds of PDF annotations are supported and that they’ll generally look more like they do on other Apple platforms, such as in Preview on macOS.

With today’s update, we’re bringing the power of PDFKit to our Rearrange and Merge functions. This means that pages will be formatted more consistently, any embedded PDF annotations will be preserved, and compatibility with all kinds of PDF files will be greatly improved. And if that’s not enough, it’s also significantly faster. We’re very excited by this change, since it finally enables us to correct some of the file-specific issues we’ve been powerless to fix for years.

There’s one final task that we hadn’t yet migrated over to PDFKit, and it’s a big one: page rendering. From displaying a page on the screen to creating the thumbnail images used throughout the app, the way forScore displays pages is a big deal. We wanted to make sure that we could take advantage of iOS’ latest capabilities, but we also recognize how much of an impact any change in this area could have on our many customers. So for this update, we’ve added the ability to use PDFKit page rendering and it’s off by default. In most cases, the difference between PDFKit rendering and the older methods is subtle—some files look significantly better (especially those created with Finale), but thumbnails can look bolder and darker than before. For now, we’re leaving that choice up to our users so they can pick the rendering method that provides the best balance of compatibility and aesthetics.

Smart Punctuation

iOS 11 introduced automatic replacement of standard apostrophe, quote, and dash characters with less-common but subtly improved variants. The ‘ and ” characters, for instance, are replaced by their curly equivalents of ’ and ”. This sounds like a minor change and it’s not even visible with most fonts, but it actually has a big impact on many apps’ search functionality since the words “app’s” and “app’s” are no longer equivalent. We’ll spare you the technical details, but suffice it to say that we’ve worked around these quibbles and with forScore 10.3.5 and forScore mini 3.3.5 you can now search for results containing either character interchangeably.

Beyond that, though, we’ve also improved how forScore handles all apostrophes while searching. Instead of only showing exact matches, forScore now uses the following rules:

  • Queries that include apostrophes only produce results that also include those apostrophes (“it’s” produces “it’s” but not “its”)
  • Queries that do not include apostrophes will produce results either with or without apostrophes (“its” produces both “its” and “it’s”)
  • Queries that do not include apostrophes but are provided within quotes only produce exact matches (“its” produces “its” but not “it’s”)

Thrilling stuff, we know, but it’s the difference between something that works the way you expect and something that’s frustrating and pedantic.

Swipe Actions

One final iOS 11 change that we’d still been grappling with is the idea of full-swipe actions. These gestures allow you to perform a task like the common swipe-to-delete action, but without the two step process. Instead of swiping to show the delete action, then tapping to confirm, iOS 11 lets you simply swipe all the way from the right edge of a cell to the left edge and let go, deleting the item in one quick motion. That’s great for something like Mail where you can go into your Trash mailbox and retrieve something you’ve accidentally deleted, but in forScore there’s no such failsafe. So with this update we’ve disabled these gestures in situations where the consequences are irreversible.

Enhancements

These are just a few of the biggest highlights, but there’s a lot more within these updates. We’ve improved the speed of entering and exiting annotation mode, upgraded to the latest version of the AirTurn SDK, and fixed a bunch of tiny bugs that got sidelined in the run-up to iOS 11’s release. All of these changes add up to make forScore more capable and reliable, and—in the case of PDFKit—they really help us lay the foundation for whatever big changes Apple throws our way next.

These updates are absolutely free for all existing users, as always, and the same low price for newcomers who may have held on to paper a little too long. Special thanks to our wonderful beta testers who helped us get these versions ready for today’s release. We couldn’t do it without them, and without the incredible support of our users. Thank you!


forScore 10.3.5

Available now for iPad


forScore mini 3.3.5

Available now for iPhone and iPod Touch

More Video Sightings

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Seal’s new album of jazz standards is out today, and PBS has just released a video of his performance of “Luck Be A Lady” at Vibrato Jazz Grill in Los Angeles. His big band includes the inimitable Alan Steinberger, complete with his iPad and forScore. The video includes a few snippets of him using our app, and it’s always a pleasure to see it in use (you can even catch a page turn just after the 5-minute mark—effortless compared to an earlier moment where one of his paper-based colleagues struggles).

forScore 10.3.4

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In addition to this morning’s big wave of updates to all of our iPhone-compatible apps, today we’re also proud to announce the immediate availability of forScore 10.3.4. That version number may make it sound like just another minor update with bug fixes and design tweaks, and while it’s got plenty of those, it also includes a great new feature: MIDI file playback.

Just like with audio tracks, forScore now allows you to import, link, and play back MIDI files. Since these kinds of files don’t actually contain any audio, just a digital representation of notes, they can support fine-grained speed adjustments without any degradation in quality. Support for these files is also included with this morning’s forScore mini 3.3.4 update.

As always, forScore 10.3.4 is available today as a free update for all of our existing customers, so be sure to check it out!


forScore 10.3.4

Available now

iPhone X Updates

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We’ve been working incredibly hard over the past few months, as we always do over the summer in preparation for a major new iOS version, but this year is a little different: Just as we were putting the final touches on our huge forScore 10.3 and forScore mini 3.3 updates, Apple announced three new iPhones—one of which is rather unlike any model that’s ever come before it.

The iPhone X may not have been a surprise to anyone who frequents Apple rumor sites, but what we didn’t expect is that while unoptimized apps run in a special compatibility mode, any app that has been updated for iOS 11 is automatically flagged as optimized for iPhone X and does not use this compatibility mode. So with just a little over a month to update every app in our lineup, we found ourselves jumping right back in.

Today we’re extremely proud to be able to share the results of that work with you. While the iPhone X (and its notch) may seem unfamiliar at first glance, the extra space at the top and bottom of the screen really does start to feel natural once you’ve been staring at it for a few weeks. We’ve updated every single one of our iPhone apps, including forScore mini, Nocturne, and our four utilities: Cue, Beat Keeper, TuneWave, and Pitch, Please! These updates are available now, free of charge for all of our existing customers, so be sure to check them out.


forScore mini

Nocturne

forScore Cue

Beat Keeper

TuneWave

Pitch, Please!

Introducing Voluntary Upgrades

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Last year Apple announced that they were making subscription pricing available to all apps, not just those that provide access to content like magazines or streaming media. It was a big policy shift that provided a new potential path to sustainability for more complex “pro” apps: those that require intensive, long-term development that one-time purchases can’t fund forever (especially in niche markets). forScore is perhaps one of the best examples of an app that could stand to benefit from a business model like this, but for us it’s seven years too late.

Since its introduction, forScore’s price has been fairly consistent, increasing only a handful of times as forScore’s feature set has grown. We don’t do sales, and we’ve found success by balancing a fair price with an evolving product. We said “free updates for life” and that’s no empty promise. With version 10.3 having just arrived, it’s clear we’ve delivered and we’re not changing course now.

But there’s a more troubling problem with the shift to subscription pricing than our own sense of integrity—especially when it comes to creative tools: the kinds of people who use these tools often make their money through gigs, contracts, or other sorts of limited employment. If someone can’t find work for a few months, they shouldn’t have to give up the tools they rely on just to make ends meet, especially if those tools are necessary to finding new work. Subscriptions can help companies become and remain sustainable, but it’s often at a cost that customers shouldn’t have to bear.

With that said, we do occasionally have customers ask us how they can contribute to the ongoing development of forScore. They may have bought the app when it was $2.99, $4.99, $6.99, or today’s $9.99, but they feel like whatever they paid wasn’t enough now that they’ve discovered just how indispensable forScore really is to them. We sincerely appreciate their passion, and we want to find a way to honor their enthusiasm.

So with forScore 10.3 we introduced voluntary upgrades (found in the Support section of the tools menu). These in-app purchases allow customers to support forScore beyond their original purchase price, no matter how long ago they bought it. Voluntary upgrades aren’t necessary for continued, full use of forScore, but they do help ensure that forScore continues to get regular and meaningful updates. As a thank you for those who choose to support us in this manner, these purchases unlock the ability to change forScore’s app icon.

forScore is doing great. We love what we do, and our customers love the results. We’re not asking for help, but we also want to make sure that people who want to contribute more can do so, and we think this is a great way to achieve that.

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