feature of the week


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Last week we learned about Links, semi-transparent dots that you can place on a page that direct you to another spot when tapped. Just like Links, Buttons are tappable dots that you can place on a page. Instead of helping you handle repeats, though, Buttons let you easily perform a wide range of different and customizable tasks with just a quick tap.

Choose “Buttons” from the tools menu and you’ll see an interface that looks a lot like the Links creator. Instead of showing you two copies of your score, however, the Buttons creator shows your page on the left and lets you customize the button’s actions on the right.

Buttons can be set up to perform one of seven major kinds of functions, each with its own customizable color:

  • Metronome: start or stop the metronome, after a delay if needed.
  • Tempo: change the metronome’s tempo to a specific value (temporarily overriding your saved tempo), or leave it blank to revert back to the saved setting.
  • Play/Pause Audio: start or stop the currently queued audio track, if available.
  • Pitch: play a specific pitch using the pitch pipe’s last-used sound bank.
  • MIDI: send MIDI messages or presets with a tap (discussed in-depth here).
  • Note: temporarily display a text note near the top of the screen, similar to the page-specific “notes” feature and the “remind me” option.
  • Navigation: program a button to take you to the next score, the previous score, or to perform a full- or half-page turn, whichever is the opposite of your normal settings.

Many of these actions are similar to the options available in the “Gestures” section of forScore’s settings panel, but Buttons are unique in that they’re location-specific. Gestures help you do global things like open a new tab, but Buttons are suited to the kinds of actions that are more strongly connected to your music. Buttons don’t just let you change the tempo, for instance, they remind you that you should do so at a specific point in the song and they store the tempo value so you don’t have to think about it while you’re playing.

When your music requires dynamic changes like these, Buttons are there to help you prepare everything in advance, then execute flawlessly as you play with just a quick tap.


| feature of the week

We sometimes hear from people who tried using a general PDF reader to store their sheet music before they ultimately decided to use forScore instead. There are lots of reasons why people find that a dedicated app like forScore is better-suited to the job of managing and displaying your sheet music library, but one of the biggest reasons by far is our Links feature.

It was one of the very first features we came up with, and it was the perfect demonstration of the sort of augmentation that was possible with a dedicated digital sheet music reading app. It made handling repeats far simpler, and we hadn’t seen anything like it at that point (though it’s become so ubiquitous that you’d be hard-pressed to find a sheet music reader these days that doesn’t offer something similar).

So how does it work? By marking two spots in your score—a “from” spot where a repeat is initiated, and a “to” spot where that repeat leads—you create a connection between those two areas. You create these connections in the Links panel (found in forScore’s Tools menu) which displays two copies of your score side-by-side. Tap on the page to mark the “from” position on the left and the “to” position on the right, swiping to turn pages if necessary. (Links take you to a specific spot, either on the current page or on any other page of your score.)

A blue circle is always visible on the page where you’ve marked a link’s source position, and tapping it takes you to the corresponding target position. An orange circle will appear and pulse briefly, indicating where you should begin playing. These orange spots aren’t normally visible, they only show up immediately after you activate a link. If you’re using your iPad in landscape orientation, forScore scrolls up or down as needed to get you to right place.

In short, links make repeats a lot easier to handle. They give you a quick and easy way to jump from one spot to another, and you can create as many as you need to unfurl even the most complex musical knots.

Table of Contents

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PDF files can have certain kinds of metadata embedded within them, like a title, author, subject, or keywords. These aren’t necessarily words shown on any of the pages, but the information is there in the file ready to be used however any compatible application sees fit.

In forScore, we use most of this information to help you organize your files: the metadata panel can pull this data into its own fields, including title, author (as a composer), subject (as a genre), and keywords (as tags). But there’s one more useful type of metadata, and that’s the table of contents.

In the bookmarks menu, you can see if the current file has a table of contents by switching to the TOC view. Since a table of contents pairs titles with page numbers, you can tap on any title and be taken immediately to the corresponding page. With a little bit of work, though, you can use this information to create more advanced forScore Bookmarks as well.

To do this, tap the “import” button and forScore will use the titles and page numbers of your file’s table of contents as the titles and starting page numbers of each new bookmark. It goes a little further than that, too: forScore makes some educated guesses about where each bookmark ends. For instance, if a bookmark starts on page 3 and another one starts on page 6, forScore assumes the first one ends on page 5. It’s not a perfect assumption, but it gets you most of the way there and saves you lots of typing.

Depending on where your PDFs come from, they might have a table of contents that you never even knew about. Next time you’re looking for a particular section, a quick visit to the Bookmarks panel could save you some time and effort.

Sorting Bookmarks

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As we’ve seen over the last few weeks, many of forScore’s menus include a set of controls just below the navigation bar that lets you find things by changing how that menu’s contents are presented. In most cases this means altering the sort order, which is why we’ve referred to it as the “sort” bar so far, but that’s actually not entirely accurate. In some cases, this bar changes what you see, rather than how it’s ordered. Consider the main menu’s initial Category view: tap Composers, Genres, Tags, or Labels and the list below will change entirely.

The Bookmarks menu is unique in that its sort bar includes both kinds of options. You can sort your bookmarks by starting page or alphabetically by title, and it works just like it does when you’re sorting scores or bookmarks in the Score and Setlist menus as we’ve discussed. But there’s a third option here, “TOC,” which shows you the current PDF file’s table of contents, if it has one. It’s not a different way of sorting the bookmarks you’ve already created, its a way of viewing a distinct set of information. (What you can do with that information is a topic for another week.)

In practice, this distinction between presentation and content is fairly obvious. Pick the right option for the content you’re looking at and the different sorting options in each of forScore’s menus will help you find what you’re looking for even faster.

Sorting Setlists

| feature of the week

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.

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