feature of the week

Dashboard: Analytics

| feature of the week

When we introduced Dashboard last year with forScore 9, we knew it was unlike any feature we had ever created. It required secure data collection and brand new interface elements that could present complex data in a logical, useful way.

To achieve this, we designed Dashboard with three specific uses in mind. Goals, Analytics, and Reports. Over the next few weeks we’ll be taking a look at each, and we’ll start with Analytics.

If you allow it, forScore collects information about which setlists, scores, and bookmarks you view and for how long. This data collection is secure (never stored anywhere other than on your own device) and strictly opt-in, so the first time you open Dashboard you’ll be asked to agree to allow forScore to begin collecting data. Once you’ve done so, you’ll see the Analytics tab; it’ll be empty since there’s no data yet, but after you’ve spent some time playing you’ll be able to come back and see what Dashboard can do.

In the top section, you can see a daily total of your play time and number of views. Below that, you’ll see a list of the items or setlists you played, sorted from most played to least. Tap on any of those items to see the day-to-day play time and number of views (like the same chart at the top of the screen, but just for that specific item).

These graphs already give you a lot of insight into your playing habits, but there’s a lot more you can do with it. Be sure to check back next week when we’ll be discussing the Goals tab!

Services to Setlists

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Last week, with the release of forScore 9.4, we introduced a new feature that lets you download a file from the Services panel and add it to a setlist in one step. Previously, you’d need to open the Services panel, locate and download the file you want, then close the panel and open the Setlists menu, select your setlist, tap the “+” button, and find the new file in the list (the “Newest” sort option really helps here) to add it to your setlist.

Now, things are a lot simpler. In the Services panel, tap and hold a PDF or 4SC file and—assuming you have some setlists in your library—you’ll be prompted to either download it normally, download it to the current setlist (see below), or download it to any setlist in your library. You can also tap the “Edit” button and select multiple files, then tap and hold the download icon in the toolbar, and your selection will apply to all of those files. If you’re using iOS 8 or newer, you can swipe from right to left over an item and choose “Download…” as well.

The “current setlist” is either the setlist you’re currently playing from, if applicable, otherwise it’s the setlist that’s currently selected in the Setlists menu. If neither of these is true, you’ll only be prompted to download the file normally or to choose from a list of setlists.

So quit jumping back and forth and save yourself some time by using this new feature the next time you’re setting up your setlists!

Annotation Tools

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This week we released forScore 9.4, so today we wanted to discuss one of the new features added with this update—the ability to control how forScore remembers your last-used tool when entering annotation mode.

With earlier versions, the last selected tool always remained active between annotation sessions. So if you had been placing stamps on one page and then started annotating a few pages later, the Stamps tool would still be active. That includes shapes, each of your drawing presets, as well as other tools like Type or Erase.

This worked well enough for a long time, but with the introduction of the Apple Pencil and forScore’s live annotations things have gotten a little more complicated. Since the annotation controls are hidden until you start drawing, it can be frustrating if the last thing you did was erase something and you want to take notes instead.

Now, with forScore 9.4, you can control how this works in two different ways (visit the new “Annotation tools” section of forScore’s settings panel to view and change these options). Set a default drawing tool—stamps, shapes, or any one of your freeform drawing presets—and that tool will always be active every time you start annotating. Or, if you need a more nuanced solution, check and uncheck tool types instead to either allow them to be saved between annotation sessions or not.

For instance, say you’ve highlighted a few things on a page and you dragged your finger a little too far over; tap the Eraser tool and clean up your markings, then tap the “Done” button to save your changes. If you’ve unchecked the “Erase” tool in the new settings panel, the next time you begin annotating the highlighter will be selected.

Custom Categories

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Organization is personal—what makes sense to one person may seem completely backwards to others. That’s especially true for musicians and while some types of information are used more commonly to categorize sheet music than others, we know there’s just no perfect set that will work for everyone.

That’s why forScore lets you tap to rename most of the metadata panel’s fields so they can better fit your needs. Names like “tags” and “labels” are meant to be generic because they’re so flexible, so go ahead and change them!

In fact, each of the following field names can be changed: composers, genres, tags, labels, rating, difficulty, time, and key. So now you can set everything up just how you like it (you could even use emoji characters instead of text if you really want to get fancy).

Mastering the Metronome

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Over the past two weeks we’ve explored forScore’s metronome, from the basics like setting the time signature and BPM values, to more specialized features like count in and autoturn.

All of these functions are great, but the best part is that once you’ve set them up, you can use them all without even opening the metronome panel. As we discussed in some of last year’s Feature of the Week articles, you can use special gestures, a Bluetooth device, or a MIDI device to toggle the metronome. Whichever mode you used most recently—audible, visible, or both—is activated with just one quick action.

You can also use Buttons to toggle the metronome, but they’re even more powerful than gestures or shortcuts because they can also be used to adjust the metronome’s BPM partway through a score. If you haven’t had a chance to check them out yet, you can read all about them here.

And finally, wrapping up our grand tour of the Metronome, we take a moment to discuss those sound effects. Let’s face it, they’re just not for everyone—no one set of sounds could be—and if that’s you, then be sure to check out the “Accessibility” feature of forScore’s settings panel. There, you can replace the two default sounds with two WAV files of your choosing—just add them to your forScore library first via iTunes’ File Sharing panel and they’ll be available in that menu.

So that concludes our journey through the various features of forScore’s metronome. We hope you enjoyed it and perhaps learned something new, and we’ll be back next week with something completely different!

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