feature of the week

10.3: Search Settings

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As we’ve discussed over the past several weeks, forScore’s global search panel has gained quite a few new abilities in version 10.3. With all of these new ways of finding things, though, it’s more important than ever that the search panel remains the best and fastest way to find exactly what you’re looking for.

With that in mind, we added a new “Search” section to forScore’s settings panel that lets you control which sorts of results appear, how they’re prioritized, and more. When you open the search panel but haven’t typed any characters into the search bar, you’ll see the five scores or bookmarks you most recently viewed. That number is now customizable, so you can see as many as you like (or even none, if you prefer).

The next section in this new settings panel lets you decide how forScore finds things and which sorts of characteristics or results are most important to you. By default, forScore prioritizes score and bookmark titles, then their text (page notes or text annotations), and then their metadata. Finally, forScore presents other kinds of results such as setlists and common actions and tools. You can disable any of these things here, or you can drag them up and down to prioritize them so they show up higher in the list of results.

A new feature in 10.3 that we haven’t explored yet is related to searching, although it’s not actually found within the Search panel. When you create a new bookmark within a text-based PDF file in your library, forScore can search that PDF’s contents to see if the text you’re supplying in the Title field occurs anywhere. If it does, it lets you see each page where that text is present so you can find the right spot and set your start page with just a tap. The third section in the new search section in the settings panel lets you disable this feature if you like.

There are a lot of ways forScore can help you find what you’re looking for, but only you can decide what’s important and what isn’t based on your content and how you use forScore. These new settings help ensure that the advanced and powerful searching capabilities we’ve developed are put to good use so that you can get in, find your content as quickly as possible, and get to playing.

10.3: Search PDF Text

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The Search panel’s new text results in forScore 10.3 include page notes and text annotations, as we’ve seen, but there’s a third and final source: your PDF file’s actual content.

Unlike text annotations or page notes, which are stored independently of your scores within forScore’s database, a PDF’s text is embedded within that file. Up until now, forScore hasn’t been able to peer inside files to reliably find words and phrases, but with iOS 11 it’s now possible.

There are two important caveats, however. First, PDF text searching only works for files that were created using fonts and text, not for PDFs that use images instead (like scans). Also, since forScore has to load your file into memory to look through its contents, PDF text search is limited to the file you’re currently viewing and doesn’t work across your entire library in the way that page notes and text annotations do.

Those two concerns aside, PDF text searching is a great way to find a specific page quickly and easily. No more squinting at thumbnails or jumping back to a table of contents page, just type in a few characters and you’re on your way.

10.3: Search Text Annotations

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Last week we saw how you can use forScore’s global search panel to find notes you’ve made per page—across your entire library—in just a few seconds. That’s not all, though, because version 10.3 also adds the ability to search the content of any text annotations you’ve made on each page. Just like with page notes, text annotation results are listed by title and page number, with your query highlighted and a bit of text surrounding it so you can get some context and make sure you’re selecting the right thing. That’s all for this week’s quick feature (those new versions don’t create themselves, you know!) but we’ll be back next Friday with even more.

10.3: Search Notes

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Once you’ve digitized your sheet music collection and added metadata like composers and genres, finding things becomes a breeze. You can browse through forScore’s menus or use the global search panel to find scores by providing any combination of words that occur in its title or many of its metadata values.

Sometimes, though, you may remember making a note of something without remembering which score you were working with or how to get back to it. With forScore 10.3, the search panel now includes page notes (added by choosing “Notes” from the tools menu) so you can find what you’re looking for in seconds. Just type in a few characters or a phrase and you’ll see every page note that includes that query, highlighted within a larger selection of its text so you can get some context and make sure you’ve got the right thing. Tap on it to not just open the corresponding score, but to open it to that specific page.

No matter how organized your collection is, tracking down a particular page has always taken a little bit of work but now, if you’ve written something down, getting back to it is almost effortless.

10.3: Selection

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The eraser isn’t the only annotation tool that got an update last week with forScore 10.3 and forScore mini 3.3—the selection tool also gained a nice new feature: tap it once to make it the active tool, then tap again to see a detail view where you can choose whether to use the original, freeform selection method, or to use rectangular selection mode instead.

With this new mode, dragging your finger around on the screen will create a rectangle that’s formed between your starting point and current point. Lift your finger and forScore selects your drawn annotations, just like before. It’s a small thing, but it’s one more way we’ve made annotation more flexible and customizable.

10.3: Eraser

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This week we released forScore 10.3 and forScore mini 3.3, bringing full support for iOS 11 and adding some incredible new features that we’ll be talking about for weeks to come. So let’s dive in!

Annotation is a big deal for us, and we’ve spent the past seven years building, rebuilding, and expanding it to serve the needs of a wide range of musicians. We have all sorts of tools available in the annotation toolbar that let you add markings to your sheet music pages. Nobody’s perfect, of course, so there’s also an eraser tool that’s been there since the very beginning.

Speaking of imperfections, for reasons that are still a mystery to us here at forScore HQ, we never implemented eraser resizing. Well, with our latest update we have: tap to select the eraser, then tap again to show the detail panel that lets you adjust and preview the eraser’s size.

Sure, Drag and Drop may be stealing people’s hearts right now, but we know that the best apps balance big new features, tiny bug fixes, and enhancements like these to truly improve. So go on, get crazy with your annotations. When it’s time to clean up, the eraser tool has your back.

Renaming Categories

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With forScore, your menus are populated using metadata that you assign to each score. This allows scores and bookmarks to appear in multiple lists, as applicable, rather than being confined to one concrete location (as with files and folders).

If you make a spelling error or want to change a category later, however, you’ll need to change that metadata value for each of the scores or bookmarks that use them. Batch editing makes this process easier, but there’s another way to quickly rename a category: from the main menu, tap “Edit” and select the composer, genre, tag, or label you want to change and tap “rename.” Once you’ve edited the category’s name appropriately, just save it and that value will be replaced for every affected item in your library.

Metadata Auto-Completion

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Instead of relying on you to manually manage files and folders, forScore uses metadata like composers, genres, and tags to dynamically generate lists that organize your music and make your collection easily browsable. That means that in order to take full advantage of this system you’ll need to do a little bit of work up front, and features like batch editing make this process much simpler and faster.

The Metadata panel includes another set of tools that help you reuse existing values when typing in the Composers, Genres, Tags, or Labels fields. When you begin editing one of these fields, the virtual keyboard will appear with an input bar along the top that features a list button (the icon with three horizontal lines) and a “Fetch” button (learn more about this feature here). If you’re using a physical keyboard or certain page turning devices, the virtual keyboard may not show, but the input bar will still appear along the bottom of the screen.

Before you begin typing, or if you’ve added a comma to the end of the existing values to indicate that you’d like to add a new value, tapping the list button presents a popup that allows you to see all of the values that currently exist across all of the scores in your library. To use any of these values for the current score, just tap them—forScore automatically adds a comma at the end so you can tap multiple values and add them with just a few quick steps.

If you start typing, forScore checks all of the existing values for that field to see if any of them begin with the text you’ve supplied. If so, forScore filters that list to only show those results, and replaces the “Fetch” button with the highest ranking result, allowing you to use it with just one tap.

So the next time you’re adding metadata to a score in your library, don’t forget to look down at this bar as you type to see if you’ve already used that value before. If so, reusing it is quick and easy, and ensures that spelling mistakes don’t create multiple, similar items in forScore’s lists.


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As technology grows and becomes more complex and pervasive, the need for security increases dramatically. What used to be little more than a few chat room conversations has quickly expanded to include everything from taxes and medical records to doorbell cameras and cars, so it’s no wonder Apple takes security very seriously.

Sometimes, apps like forScore can help you accomplish certain tasks more easily by accessing some information or hardware. To record yourself practicing a song and review it later, forScore needs to be able to access your microphone. To help you digitize your music on the go, Darkroom can use your device’s camera or import existing images from your Photos library. To allow you to link specific audio tracks from the Music app to pieces in your sheet music library, forScore requires access to your Music library.

The first time you use these features, iOS prompts you to decide whether or not you want to grant forScore permission to access the relevant information or hardware component. If you choose to, forScore can provide the full use of that feature. Otherwise, the feature may be limited or completely disabled.

If you accidentally make the wrong choice or change your mind later, these permissions can be controlled from within the Settings app, under “forScore.” The first three options, “Microphone,” “Camera,” and “Media & Apple Music,” each have a switch next to them that can be flipped on or off at any time to grant or revoke access, respectively.

In some ways, the magic of modern technology really comes from devices accurately predicting and responding to your needs and intentions without you even needing to express them, but when these devices can do so much there can be no “magic” when it comes to protecting your data and privacy. Sometimes, a good old fashioned on/off switch is the only way to provide the kind of explicit agreement needed to leverage these components responsibly.

Music: Settings

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As we’ve seen over the past several weeks, forScore allows you to combine sheet music and audio tracks to great effect. You can automatically queue up the right song, control playback without leaving the app, loop a specific section, and even adjust the playback pitch and speed as needed. There are a few other use cases, however, that require forScore to behave differently, and for those situations we complete our series with a look at two options in forScore’s settings panel.

By default, when you open forScore it asserts control over the device’s audio playback resources and stops any audio that’s currently playing (so it can queue up the right song, if you’ve set one up). If you prefer, forScore can defer to other audio sources and only assert control over the device’s audio system when you press the play button for a linked track. In some cases, depending on how the other app plays audio, forScore may be able to display that track’s artwork, metadata, and allow you to control playback. In this situation, you’ll see a round “x” button in the top right-hand corner of the media box that lets you interrupt playback and turn control back over to forScore.

Another option in forScore’s settings panel lets you choose to use the system’s audio engine. In order to provide advanced features like pitch and granular speed adjustments, forScore uses its own audio engine built using advanced iOS frameworks. A simpler, but less powerful way to play music works by letting iOS handle playback instead (using the “Music” app). Although the first option is more powerful, forScore’s audio engine relies on the limited resources that iOS provides the app, whereas the system engine gets priority status. In short, if you experience stuttering or audio glitches during periods of heavy activity and you don’t need the advanced adjustments provided by the in-app engine, this setting may help.

Audio playback is an essential part of the forScore experience for many people, and there’s a lot of variation in how musicians prefer to work. With these settings and all of the powerful tools available in forScore’s media box, there’s a lot of flexibility available to each customer to find their most natural way of working, listening, and playing.

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