Feature of the Week

Sorting Scores

| Feature of the Week

Browsing through your forScore library is generally done in two steps: tap on a composer, genre, tag, or label to see the related scores in a submenu. From here, you can use the search bar to filter the results down to hone in on what you’re looking for, or you can just scroll through the list until you see it.

There’s one more thing here that can help, though, and that’s the sort bar. This control near the top of the menu (just below the navigation bar) lets you change how the items in the list are sorted, and the options vary based on which menu you’re using.

In score submenus, you can sort items by title, newest (files most recently added to your library), rating, difficulty, time, or key. Those last four choices are only offered when applicable, so if none of the scores in the current list have a rating, you won’t see that option.

Most of these sorting methods are straightforward enough, but the first—Title—can be a little contentious. Some users expect this to use a strict alphabetical sorting, while others prefer it to omit common words like “the,” “an,” or “and.” For this reason, an option in forScore’s settings panel called “Smart Sorting” controls how this works so you can pick the method that’s right for you.

Page Selector

| Feature of the Week

So much of forScore is built around helping you find and navigate between files that it’s easy to overlook another tool that’s just as important: the page selector. This dotted line along the bottom of the screen lets you quickly jump to a specific page without having to tap multiple times to get there. You might think it ends there, but there’s more to this handy control than it seems.

One feature of the page selector that’s obvious the first time you use it is that as you drag the knob left and right, you’ll see not only the page number you’re hovering over, but also a thumbnail preview of that page. These thumbnails include your annotations, so it’s easy to find the right page in a hurry.

If you use bookmarks, you’ll see more information under that page thumbnail if applicable. If there’s a single-page bookmark on the target page, its title will appear after the page number as “Page 5 (My Bookmark).” If there are any multi-page bookmarks that include the target page, you’ll also be able to see the page number relative to that bookmark. For example, imagine you’ve created a bookmark called “Prelude” that begins on page 3 and ends on page 4. As you drag the knob to page 3, you’ll see “Page 3 (Prelude, page 1),” and at page 4 you’ll see “Page 4 (Prelude, Page 2).”

It all works beautifully for most files, but if you’ve got a PDF with hundreds of pages it can be a little difficult to drag the knob to the right spot and lift your finger without accidentally moving slightly. You could just tap to move a few pages forward or backward to get to the right spot, of course, but there’s another trick here that can help. If you tap on the knob and start dragging it, then move your finger upward towards the top of the screen without letting go, you’ll find that as you get further away from the page selector, the knob reacts more slowly to left/right movements.

As if all that wasn’t enough, there’s one last feature of the page selector. It shows you how many pages forScore has cached in memory by showing solid dots for those pages and semi-transparent dots for the rest. Cached pages will open almost instantly, while others further out may take a little longer to appear on screen.

It’s such an obvious control that it doesn’t get much notice, but don’t underestimate the page selector! It’s a powerful and essential piece of the forScore interface that does its part to make your experience even better.

Search

| Feature of the Week

There are plenty of ways to find a specific piece in your sheet music library, from browsing and sorting by composer and other types of metadata, to filtering longer lists down with the search field at the top of each menu. But perhaps the easiest way is to use the global search function, just to the right of the center panel in the main view’s control bar.

Start typing to hone in on a piece: use a few letters to find any score or bookmark whose title, composers, genres, tags, or labels contain that sequence of letters. Words are matched separately, so you can find “Piano Sonata in C Minor” by typing in “sonata piano,” and they can appear in any of the major metadata categories. For example, if you have several pieces by Mozart and you’ve used the Tags field to identify them by instrument, you could type in “Mozart piano” to find only those written for piano.

The search panel does a whole lot more than that, though. When you open it, before you’ve typed anything in, you’ll see the last five pieces you viewed—it makes getting back to something quick and easy. Search also gives you more flexibility by drawing together more than just your content: it can be used to find a specific metadata category and navigate to it in the Score menu, and it can be used to access many of forScore’s most important features and functions (search for “Buttons” or “Metadata” and tap to activate that feature).

So next time you know exactly what you need, skip the browsing and scrolling; open the Search panel and let it do the heavy lifting for you instead.

Auto-lock

| Feature of the Week

When you’re using your iPad, iOS keeps track of how often you touch the screen and puts the device to sleep if it thinks you might not be looking at it anymore. This helps save power and gives the iPad its impressive battery life. This feature is called Auto-lock, and it can be configured globally in the Settings app to kick in after 2, 5, 10, or 15 minutes, or to never interfere and leave your screen on until you explicitly turn it off.

In some cases, though, auto-lock doesn’t make sense even though you may not want to disable it everywhere. When you’re watching a video, for instance, you’re not touching the screen for long periods of time—but you still want the video to keep playing and the screen to stay on. For this, Apple supplies developers with the ability to temporarily override the system setting and keep the screen on indefinitely. This override can apply to a specific action (like watching a video), or it can simply kick in whenever the app is open and revert to the system’s setting when it closes.

In forScore’s settings panel, an app-level option lets you decide how this should work. If auto-lock is enabled here, as it is by default, forScore won’t interfere at all and your standard system setting will apply. If you prefer to keep the screen lit as long as you’re using forScore, disable this option instead.

Fullscreen Menus

| Feature of the Week

When you’re not playing music or annotating your scores, much of your time in forScore is likely spent working with menus that let you access and edit your scores, bookmarks, and setlists. These menus float above your score in the top left-hand corner of the screen, in what Apple calls Popovers. These popovers make sure you always know what you’re looking at and where it comes from, which is why they have arrows pointing to the button you tapped to open them. They also keep the rest of the control bar visible so you an do things like switch from the score menu over to the setlist menu with just one tap.

Popovers can be dismissed by tapping outside of them; this behavior works for most but some people find that they occasionally dismiss these menus accidentally. And, while most titles are short enough to fit into the default size of these menus, you may prefer to see as much information as possible and avoid unnecessary truncation. That’s why we’ve included an option called “fullscreen menus” in the “accessibility” section of forScore’s settings panel. If you enable it, these menus will take up the whole screen, preventing accidental dismissal and giving you the biggest possible view of your library and setlists.

Backing Up

| Feature of the Week

2017 is almost here, and tomorrow lots of people will be starting things out right by rededicating themselves to those habits that are important but hard to form. Like backing up your files.

If you’ve spent time scanning, organizing, and annotating your scores, then you should also know how to back them up—and you should do so regularly! We recommend backing up before any update to iOS or major update to forScore, and especially if you’ve made a lot of recent changes to your library. Our knowledge base article on the subject includes detailed instructions on how to back up your files:

Backing up your data to your computer

For those who got their hands on a shiny new iPad this holiday season, the instructions for transferring your library are similar. Of course, the best way to move everything to a new iPad is to restore it from an iTunes or iCloud backup. If that’s not possible, or if something goes wrong, it’s easy to move these files over manually. Here’s how:

Transferring your forScore library to another device

Don’t risk losing all of your hard work this year, back up regularly and turn a good practice into a smart habit. Happy new year!

Features of the Year

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We love simple, clear designs, and we strive to make forScore as approachable as possible so that everyone can get started using it as quickly and naturally as possible. For some, that leaves the mistaken impression that forScore is a shallow app, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. That’s why we created this series, the Feature of the Week, and we’ve covered a lot of ground over the past twenty months.

This holiday week, we wanted to take a moment to recap all of the many features we’ve written and give our readers a chance to catch up on any they may have missed. So without further ado, here’s every feature we discussed in 2016:

And if that’s not enough reading material to keep your holiday travels lively, here’s everything from last year as well:

Thanks for reading, and happy holidays!

Stamps: Editor

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Over the past two weeks we’ve taken a look at forScore’s Stamps tool. We began with a quick overview, then explored tinting to give you more flexibility and expressiveness. Finally, today we’ll take a look at forScore’s powerful stamp editor and the ability to create your own custom stamps.

From within the Stamps palette, tap the + button in the bottom toolbar to create a new stamp. Here, you can use the large canvas to draw small, detailed annotations and reuse them whenever you need to. Use the hue, saturation, transparency, brightness, and size sliders to adjust your drawing style, and use the undo or redo buttons when necessary. You can also use the eyedropper tool to reuse any color on the canvas (tap once to activate the tool, then tap on a colored portion of the stamp to use that color).

Once you’ve drawn your stamp and it looks correct in the small, medium, and large preview areas, tap Save to add it to your stamp collection. You can delete any stamp by selecting it in the Stamps palette and then tapping the trash can icon. You can also edit any existing stamp by selecting it and tapping the action icon (the box with the upward arrow). This opens the same stamp editor we just discussed, but with the selected stamp already on the canvas so you can refine it as needed.

Along the standard draw, erase, and clear tools in this editor, you’ll also see two additional options: import and revert. Reverting can be useful when editing an existing stamp: if you make some changes and decide that they’re not right, you can reset back to the saved version of your stamp and try again.

Which brings us to the important “Import” function. While drawing your shapes by hand works well in some cases and is a quick and easy way to design your own stamps, sometimes an image works better. If you add a PNG image to your forScore library using iTunes’ File Sharing panel, you’ll be able to select that image here and place it on the canvas. For best results, your image should be 144 pixels wide and tall, and should use a transparent background instead of a white one (so you don’t cover up your sheet music unnecessarily). Once imported, you can draw or erase to refine your stamp even further and tap Save when you’re done.

Stamps are incredibly useful, and the ability to create your own takes this feature from a nice add-on to an exhaustive and powerful tool that can service many different needs. If you haven’t used it yet, now is a great time to get started.

Stamps: Tint

| Feature of the Week

Last week we took a look at forScore’s Stamps tool, part of the annotation system that allows you to place detailed, reusable symbols on the page. We briefly explored the Stamps palette, which you can see by tapping once to select the Stamps tool (if not already selected), and then tapping again.

One part of this panel that we didn’t discuss is the “Tint” button in the top right-hand corner. This button lets you change the color of your stamps quickly and easily: tap on it to pick your color, and use the switch at the top to enable or disable tinting. Although all of the default stamps are black, stamps can be any color or even multiple colors (check back next week for more on that). When tinting is disabled, your stamps are drawn in their original form. When tinting is enabled, however, forScore uses your stamp’s shape and opacity but replaces all colors with your selected tint color, much like a rubber stamp and an ink pad.

This feature makes it easy to use just one stamp for multiple purposes, color-coded to whatever system you use to remember important details. It also helps stamps stand out from the page a little more, so they don’t just blend in with the original sheet music.

Things get even more interesting when you create your own stamps, as you’ll see next week, so be sure to check back then as we conclude our series on forScore’s indispensable Stamps tool.

Stamps: Basics

| Feature of the Week

We’ve discussed forScore’s annotation features a lot, but one feature that’s been part of the app since almost the very beginning is the Stamps tool. It allows you to place commonly-used symbols right onto the page without needing to draw them manually. It works great for small, detailed markings like numbers, sharps, flats, and other notation symbols.

To use the Stamps tool, activate annotation mode by selecting it from the tools menu or pressing and holding your finger on the page for a moment. On the left-hand edge of the annotation toolbar you’ll find the Stamps tool, a flat symbol by default. Tap once to select it, then tap again to see the Stamps palette. This panel allows you to choose from a wide range of symbols (scroll up and down to see all 80 of the stamps we include by default). Tapping on any of these symbols changes the active stamp in the toolbar, and using the slider at the bottom of the Stamps palette lets you control the size of your stamp.

With your stamp selected and resized to fit your music, touch and hold your finger on the page and drag it around to see a preview loupe. When you’ve got the perfect spot, just let go and the stamp will be drawn onto the page. You can do this even when the Stamps palette is showing—it’ll disappear when you touch the page so you can see what you’re doing, and then reappear when you’re done (great for adding several different stamps in quick succession).

If you find yourself using some stamps more often, you can rearrange them to better suit your needs. Just tap and hold on any stamp for a moment, then drag it to a more appropriate spot. Putting your favorites right up at the top for easy access can really speed up your workflow.

There’s much more to this feature, though, so be sure to check back over the next few weeks as we dive a little further into this tremendously useful tool.

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