News

forScore 10.3.5

| News

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

| News

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

| News

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

| News

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

| In Depth, News

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.

forScore 10.3

| News

Today we’re incredibly proud to announce the release of our latest big updates, forScore 10.3 and forScore mini 3.3 on the App Store. These versions are fully compatible with iOS 11 and bring support for some of its most anticipated features like Drag and Drop.

We’ve said it before, but Drag and Drop is huge. If you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to check out the video. That’s the biggest new thing, but there’s a lot more than that so head over to our feature page on everything that’s new in 10.3 if you haven’t had a chance to do so already.

These updates are completely free for all existing users, as always, so visit the App Store today to get your hands on them. We’d like to take a moment to thank our beta testers for lending us their time and providing valuable feedback, and to thank all of our customers for your continued support and passion. We couldn’t do it without you.


forScore 10.3

Available now for iPad


forScore mini 3.3

Available now for iPhone and iPod Touch

iTunes 12.7

| News

Last week Apple released iTunes 12.7 which removes the iOS App Store entirely and has caused some concern and confusion, especially as this change relates to the File Sharing panel—something many forScore users rely on. This panel has not been removed with iTunes 12.7, and in fact is even easier to access.

Previously, accessing this panel involved connecting your device, clicking on its icon in the navigation bar near the top of the screen, then choosing “Apps” from the sidebar. This is where people generally got confused, because this “Apps” section handled installing or uninstalling apps, rearranging your home screen, and included the File Sharing panel hidden all the way at the bottom of that complex page.

With iTunes 12.7, the ability to install, remove, update and rearrange apps has been removed—this can all be handled more easily on your device. Now, instead of the “Apps” section in the sidebar, there’s a “File Sharing” section that is dedicated to the file sharing panel. This panel works exactly the same way as it always has, so everything should be familiar to our users. No need to scroll down to the bottom of the page and fight with iTunes’ many nested scrolling views, just click and proceed as you always have.

iOS 11 Compatibility

| News

With the release of iOS 11 just around the corner, many of you may be wondering whether or not it’s safe to install. As we said last year with iOS 10, the short answer is this: if you have a recent, complete manual backup of your library and you don’t depend on forScore professionally, then go ahead and update whenever you’re ready.

The longer answer is that major updates always bring tons of big changes, from new features to behind-the-scenes refactoring that can cause all sorts of unforeseen issues (in addition to the known issues listed below). In fact, the final version Apple releases to customers will be different from any version we’ve been able to test since the first beta back in June. So whether or not you should update really comes down to this question—is there anything in iOS 11 that you need or want to try today, and could you live without forScore and your iPad for a few days? If not, wait a week and let us and others kick the tires before you jump in.

Known Issues:

Currently, there is only one bug we’re aware of that may have a meaningful impact on customers: when forScore reads a PDF page’s embedded annotations, the process of identifying links to other pages takes far longer on iOS 11 than with previous versions of iOS. This means that files with lots of links in them, especially longer files, may take noticeably longer to load or crash before finishing. If you use files with links and/or pages numbering in the hundreds, you should wait to update or disable hyperlinks in the “PDF Annotations” section of forScore’s settings panel. Unless Apple fixes this problem with a future update, working around this bug will require us to make a significant number of changes to our code and we want to be sure that they’re fully tested before we release them, so they’ll be included in a future forScore update and not the forthcoming 10.3 release.

Sneak Peek: forScore 10.3

| News

We’ve been hard at work since the announcement of iOS 11, and today we’re tremendously excited to be back with another big update to forScore, version 10.3. With this new version we’ve gone all in with iOS 11’s biggest features, fully embracing things like Drag and Drop by weaving support for it into the app at every level. The amount of flexibility this adds is incredible, and you really have to use it to believe it.

Of course, that’s just the start, so be sure to visit our new in-depth page to see all of the changes we’re making. If you’re interested in helping us get it ready for a full release consider becoming a beta tester. Otherwise, stay tuned over the coming weeks as we get closer to 10.3’s official introduction!

Groups Discontinued

| In Depth, News

In 2015 we introduced Groups, a subscription-based service that allowed forScore users to automatically share their scores, bookmarks, and setlists with other forScore users. It was new territory for us, and although we are very proud of the hard work we did to make it a reality, today we’re announcing that it is being discontinued. Functionality remains for anyone who has already signed up, and will remain until their subscription expires, but new subscriptions and extensions can no longer be purchased.

Groups was built using Apple’s CloudKit (despite the fact that it was very new at the time) because it was Apple’s first cloud service that allowed users to share information with each other. Until that point, Apple’s services were limited to backups and private synchronization between a single user’s devices. With CloudKit, we could allow users to share their information with anyone who had an iCloud account—there was no need for us to manage accounts or maintain our own servers.

Unfortunately, the ability to share information this way came at a cost: just like each user has a limited amount of iCloud storage space, apps that take advantage of this public space face usage restrictions and complicated quotas. These quotas dictate how much storage space an app has to work with, but also how much data they can move to and from CloudKit. These limits aren’t fixed, either, and they grow based on the number of active users an app has. For almost a year after Apple introduced CloudKit, even they didn’t seem to know how much they would charge for apps that exceeded these limits. We found ourselves in a frustrating limbo, but we believed enough in the end result to keep pushing forward.

In the end, the potential risks and constant maintenance of such a complex system couldn’t be reconciled with the costs and limits our users could accept. We’re tremendously proud of the concept and the implementation, but it wasn’t enough and we’re ready to move forward with the new features and enhancements that will have a big impact on all of our customers. We strive always to make forScore the best it can be, and sometimes that means closing the door on something that never quite clicked. For all of our users who tried the Groups service, we sincerely appreciate it. Thank you for giving it a shot, we learned a lot and will carry that experience forward into the hard work we continue to do every day.

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