Feature of the Week

Educational Pricing

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While not strictly a forScore feature, Apple allows developers to discount their apps by 50% for educators who are buying in bulk (currently defined as 20 or more copies). We absolutely love this program and have always embraced it fully by opting in with each of our apps from the very moment they were released.

It’s back to school season around much of the globe, so we wanted to take a moment to highlight this discount and make sure educators everywhere can take full advantage of it. If you’re looking to supply your classroom with forScore or any of our other apps, check out Apple’s website to learn more about this excellent program—or, if your institution is already part of the volume purchase program, contact your program administrator for further details.

10.4: Turn Touch Remote

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There are many options out there for musicians looking for a page turning device that can flip pages with the press of a foot pedal, but less common are handheld page turners. With forScore 10.4.3 we added support for one of these that was new to us, the Turn Touch remote.

This remote is certainly unique, beginning with the fact that it’s made almost entirely out of wood and held together with strong magnets. In the modern age of cheap plastics and sharp mold lines, it can be refreshing to feel the satisfying grain of natural wood (especially important for something you hold in your hand, rather than set on the floor).

Four buttons let you perform up to eight actions—configurable in the Page Turners & Shortcuts section of forScore’s settings panel—with a click or a longer click and hold. Turn pages, skip to the previous or next score, toggle the metronome, activate on-page buttons, and much much more.

Inside, the Turn Touch uses Bluetooth Smart for much better battery life than standard Bluetooth devices like wireless keyboards. Replacing the battery is easy, though not something you’ll need to worry about often. It pairs directly with forScore through the app’s Devices panel, so there’s no need to keep another app running in the background.

If you’re looking for a handheld forScore remote, this one is a great option. We don’t have any sort of affiliation with them and aren’t compensated if you choose to buy one, so you can trust that we recommend it solely based on its merits. It’s not the only option, but for some people it will certainly be the best.

10.4: Inserting Templates

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With forScore’s Rearrange tool you can reorder, duplicate, remove, and rotate pages of a score and save the results in place or as a new copy in your music library. With forScore 10.0, we introduced the ability to insert pages from another score to the end of the piece you’re currently rearranging, or to insert one or more blank pages.

Templates, a feature that was introduced with forScore 10.2, allows users to create new PDF files in their forScore library by picking a style and specifying how many pages they need. Default templates include a blank page and several different types of staff paper, but you can easily add your own templates to better suit your needs.

This year, with forScore 10.4.3, we took each of these features one step further by providing the ability to insert templates directly into the Rearrange workspace. Tap the + button at the bottom of the Rearrange panel to open the Insert picker and you’ll still be able to select a score from your library to insert its pages, but a tab bar along the bottom now also lets you switch over to the Templates browser.

It works just like it does when you select Templates from the tools menu: choose a style, adjust the number of pages, then tap Done. Instead of immediately producing a new score in your library, however, the new pages are appended to your score’s layout and you can continue working until everything looks right. When you’re done, save your changes (or save a copy) and you’ll find the template’s pages included in all the appropriate places.

10.4: Snapshots

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One of forScore’s older features allows you to create and restore from annotation snapshots. These per-page saved states for your annotations allow you to keep different markings for different situations, but the new Layers feature we discussed last week gives you all of the same capabilities and more: you can hide any layer at any time without permanently removing those markings.

Since most people will want to use layers going forward, we replaced snapshots with layers in the annotation toolbar (you can reverse this if you prefer by visiting the “legacy features” section of forScore’s settings panel). When you’re working on a page that already has one or more snapshots, the Layers panel displays the Snapshots icon in the top left-hand corner so you can still access them and use them just as you always have.

When you’re ready to upgrade to using Layers, you can use a new conversion function we added forScore 10.4 to help people transition. It takes each of your snapshots and creates a new layer from them, with one caveat: forScore supports up to 8 layers but up to 24 snapshots. If you’ve got more than eight, you’ll need to remove some before you can switch over to using Layers instead.

New features are always exciting, but the real test of any thoughtfully developed app is how it helps existing users adapt to the new functionality. We spent a lot of time trying to find the best way to create something amazing for everyone without disregarding the work and time our users put into organizing and annotating their scores.

10.4: Annotation Layers

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When you want to add markings to your score but keep some of them separate from others, or if you don’t want to see all of them at all times, forScore 10.4’s new Layers feature offers a great solution. While in annotation mode, tap the icon of three overlapping rectangles in the bottom right-hand corner of the the annotation toolbar. (If you’re using forScore mini, or if you’re using Split View or Slide Over on your iPad, the icon will be in the center of the top row instead.)

This button’s icon shows you how many layers exist for the current page, and tapping it opens the Layers panel. To add a new layer for the current page, tap the + button at the bottom of this panel, or swipe from right to left over any existing layer in the list to clear or remove it. Tap a layer’s title to rename it and use the three icons on the side to toggle its visibility, merge two layers, or duplicate it. Rearrange layers by tapping the “Edit” button or, with iOS 11, using Drag and Drop gestures.

In this list, you can see which layer is currently active by looking for the entry with a slightly darker gray background. When you draw, erase, or add text annotations, stamps, and shapes, they are all added to the current layer—no markings on any other layer are affected. Just like with most popular photo editing applications, markings within layers further down in the list are shown above any markings that may exist in the layers below it (higher up in the list).

Using forScore’s selection tools, you can copy and paste an area of markings from the current layer, then select a different layer and paste them there. If you make a mistake, undo and redo support is ready to help—it tracks each of your changes no matter which layer you’re working with and lets you step backwards and forwards through your edits as needed.

Annotation layers aren’t just a simple addition to forScore’s toolset, they represent a whole new way of working. If you haven’t tried using them yet, be sure to check out this panel and get a sense for how it works.

10.4: Buttons

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Buttons can do a lot, and with forScore 10.4 they can now do even more. There are two completely new button types as well as some expanded functionality for a few of the existing ones.

The new “Seek Audio” button type lets you change the playback position of the current audio track, whether it’s playing or paused, and the “Open Link” type allows you to activate a predefined URL with a single tap. That URL can be a standard web address, or it can also be one of the new forScore-specific links that we discussed a few weeks back.

When you’re using the “Play/Pause Audio” button, you can now specify the playback position to use when starting playing. If the audio track is playing, tapping the button will pause it, and when you tap it again it’ll start playing from the time you supplied. If you don’t supply this information, tapping the button resumes playback from the currently paused position.

Finally, the Navigation button type now sports a “Go To…” option. This lets you specify an item to open when you tap on the button. You can choose an item from your library or from a specific setlist to also queue up the rest of the items in that setlist. Once you’ve picked an item, you can also choose to specify a page number. (You can’t set a page number without choosing an item first—if you want to go to a different page of the current score then Links are a better tool for the job.)

Buttons are easy to set up and virtually effortless to use, so the next time you find yourself doing the same task over and over again at a certain point in a score, consider using a button to simplify it.

10.4: Dashboard

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Dashboard, forScore’s set of tools that help you track and understand how you spend your time playing, got more than just a subtle design refresh with our latest updates. It’s logging system was rebuilt from the ground up for improved accuracy, and we added some new capabilities to help you get the most out of it.

You may not want to track all of the time you spend viewing a score, so forScore now lets you control how this works: a new gear icon in the top right-hand corner of Dashboard’s Analytics tab gives you several options, such as preventing tracking while you’re annotating.

You can pause or resume tracking at any time using this new panel, but the toggle action is also available as an option when configuring two- or three-finger tap gestures and through the Page Turners and Shortcuts section of forScore’s settings panel (look for “Analytics”). That means you can start and stop tracking with a gesture, page turner, stylus button, MIDI command, or external keyboard shortcut—all from the main view, without having to open Dashboard first.

When information is tracked that you don’t want, it’s now easier to remove it with our latest updates. Swipe to delete all data tracked for an item on a specific day, or reset the whole day and start fresh. If you decide not to use Dashboard any longer, or you want to reset all of its data, you can do either as well.

10.4: Sharing

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Whether you’re using AirDrop to send a setlist to a colleague or backing up a score to Dropbox, sharing is an integral part of working with items in forScore. Depending on what you’re sharing, there may be several formats you can use: setlists can be sent as plain text, or they can be packaged up in the forScore-specific 4SS file type. Scores and bookmarks can be exported as flattened annotated PDFs or they can be sent using forScore’s 4SC format.

Depending on how much content you’re sharing and which options are included, the export process can take a little bit of time. That’s why we added an export progress overlay to forScore with 10.4 so you can see how long it’ll take and cancel it if you need to.

If you’re using either of those two forScore-specific formats—4SS or 4SC files—they’re now stored more efficiently making them dramatically smaller. They’ll take up less space on your iPad or iPhone, use up less of your cloud storage provider’s quota, and take less time to transfer over a network connection.

Under the hood features aren’t always flashy, but they’re sometimes the most satisfying: we can take something that huge numbers of people do every day and make it significantly more efficient. It doesn’t have to make headlines to make a difference.

10.4: Action Extensions

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As we discussed a few weeks ago, iOS 11 includes some changes that allow multiple apps to access and edit the same documents without duplicating them first. With forScore 10.4 and forScore mini 3.4 we added support for this functionality, and understanding how it all fits together can take a little bit of practice. Whether you’re bouncing between apps or taking advantage of the iPad’s multitasking modes, keeping track of your files takes more work.

Fortunately, there’s another way: iOS allows apps to provide some of their functionality through something called an ‘action extension.’ An action extension might be included with a translation app, for instance—instead of requiring you to copy and paste text between apps, the extension can show you a translated version of a webpage right from within the web browser you’re already using. Action extensions are contextual, so when you share content using an app, the extensions available to you will depend on the type of content you’re working with. In forScore, you can share PDF files, so PDF-focused action extensions might appear in the standard iOS sharing interface.

We include three of these action extensions with one of our other apps, Badger, and they allow you to quickly view the embedded metadata, table of contents, or annotations within a PDF file. Some action extensions offer editing capabilities, so when an extension is dismissed forScore checks to see if it has provided a new version of your document—if it has, you’ll be asked if you want to overwrite the original file with the new copy or not. Badger’s extensions work this way, and other extensions can easily be updated to offer the same kind of functionality.

When serious editing is required, opening your documents in other apps is still the best way, but when you just want to check to see what information already exists or make quick edits, action extensions can offer a much more streamlined experience. As always, you’re free to use whichever one works for your situation.

10.4: Automation

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From globalization and industry to speakers that can turn on your lights, automation is a big word with a lot of different applications and meanings. In short, it describes how people take one or more unchanging tasks and create a system that does it for us, either repeatedly or on command.

For instance, often times you’ll want to get to a specific page of a specific score in your forScore library. First, you’ll need to open the file—either by browsing for it through forScore’s menus, or by searching for it—and then tap forward or use the page selector at the bottom of the screen to navigate to the correct page. With forScore 10.4, you can now create shortcuts that do both tasks for you at once, and they use a familiar mechanism: URLs.

Any time you share a link with a friend, open a bookmark in your web browser, or click on a tracking number in an email, you’re using a URL. While URLs most often reference content on the internet, they also have other uses. Instead of the usual “http” or “https” prefix, a link might start with “mailto” and open a new email draft addressed to the person indicated in the URL. These prefixes are called Schemes and help your device understand how to handle different types of URLs.

With our latest big updates, forScore now declares its own custom scheme (“forscore”) and can handle these specially-formatted links, allowing you to navigate to specific content or a location in the Services panel with one easy tap. This support is provided across the entire system, so any app that displays tappable links, including Apple’s own Safari, Notes, and Mail apps, can send the URL on to forScore so it can respond no matter where it comes from.

You can ask for a specific score, bookmark, page, or setlist, and you can combine these parameters to achieve different results. For instance, tapping forscore://open?setlist=Summer finds the setlist called “Summer” if it exists in your forScore library, and opens to the first item in the list (using the setlist’s current sort order). If you know the Summer setlist includes a piece called “June”, you can open the setlist to that specific piece using forscore://open?setlist=Summer&score=June and forScore will do just that.

Those are just a few examples, but there’s a lot more you can do with forScore 10.4 and automation. For a full list of parameters and formatting requirements, be sure to check out this page.

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