feature of the week

Sorting Setlists

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Last week we took a look at the different ways you can sort your scores in the main menu by using the controls just below the menu’s navigation bar. There are similar controls in many of forScore’s menus, and they do subtly different things depending on what makes the most sense for the content you’re viewing.

For instance, in the Setlist menu there are actually two places you can change the sorting behavior. While viewing the list of setlists, forScore can display them manually (however you’ve explicitly arranged them), sorted (alphabetically), and a “fresh” option that lets you rediscover setlists you haven’t played in a while by putting the least-recently played items at the top.

If you tap on a setlist, you can also arrange the contents within that setlist in similar ways: manually, sorted, fresh, and—one that isn’t available in the previous screen—shuffle. Shuffle randomizes your list and keeps that shuffled order around until you drag the menu down to randomize things again. We do this so the list doesn’t keep moving things around as you play, otherwise you’d end up playing the same song twice.

Setlists are built to let you play songs in a specific order, but that doesn’t mean they’re limited to doing just that. Next time you play, try using these sorting options to switch things up a bit.

Sorting Scores

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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

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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

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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.

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