Feature of the Week

Drag and Drop: Items

| Feature of the Week

Today we begin our exploration of the many different ways you can use the Drag and Drop gestures we outlined last week, and the most obvious place to start is with Items (scores and bookmarks in your forScore library).

As you may recall, Drag and Drop lets you drag a single object or a collection of similar objects at once to do things with them. So when it comes to explaining what exactly can be done with these new capabilities, it’s easier (and more concise) to talk in terms of sources and destinations. Just remember that you can drag one item from a single source, or drag multiple items from one or more sources.

Items can be dragged from most of the places you’re used to seeing them: the score, bookmark, and setlist menus, as well as the global search panel. You can drag items from multiple menus, but you can even drag them from different lists within the same menu: grab a score from a certain composer, then another one in a certain genre, add a few scores from one of your favorite setlists, then pick a bookmark from the Search panel’s results. You can even drag the current item out of the main view’s central title bar display.

Once you’re dragging your item(s), you can do a lot with them like drop them into the main Setlists menu to create a new setlist, into an existing setlist to add them at a specific point, or into the Services panel to upload them to your preferred cloud storage provider. We’ll be exploring some of these uses in future Feature of the Week articles, but for now let’s focus on two simpler tasks to get you started: Drag an item onto the page and the tab bar will slide out (if it’s not already visible), allowing you to drop the item there to open it in a new tab. You can also drop an item onto the main view’s central title bar display to open it in the current tab. If you haven’t tried out Drag and Drop yet, these are great places to begin.

There’s a lot more to Drag and Drop, so stay tuned in the coming weeks as we continue to unpack the impressive number of interactions these new gestures enable. By the end, you’ll be wondering how anyone ever did any of this the old way!

Drag and Drop: Basics

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With this year’s iOS 11 update, Apple introduced Drag and Drop, opening up completely new ways of working with information using gestures that couldn’t be more natural. Instead of tapping “Edit” and selecting your items, then tapping another button to do something with those items, Drag and Drop lets you directly manipulate objects on screen: drag something from one spot to another spot to move it, open it, share it, and more. It simplifies the most obvious tasks by taking almost all of the intermediate steps away.

If an app has been updated to support Drag and Drop (forScore was on day one), some of its interface elements can be dragged—most commonly, this includes items in a list like scores, bookmarks, and setlists in the menus and search panel. Tap and hold one of them until it animates up and out of its list, then drag your finger around on screen to move it.

Crucially, you can leave your first finger on the screen and use your other fingers to continue navigating and working just as you always do. Close menus, open other panels, turn pages—everything is still available to you. Most importantly, this allows you to drag multiple items at once (when appropriate). After tapping and holding to begin dragging one item, use another finger to tap other similar items one at a time to add them to your drag stack.

When you drag your items over a compatible view or portion of the screen, you’ll see the interface change to indicate that an action can be performed there. When rearranging items in a list (scores within a setlist, for example), other items move out of the way and create a gap to show that you dropping your item there will move it to that spot. In other cases, a green “+” symbol may appear indicating that your items will be added or copied instead of moved. Different situations use different symbols, and it takes just a few minutes of exploration to understand what each of them means and how they work.

These gestures are easy to pick up but far more capable than they may seem at first. You can drag an item and tap others to drag them all at once, but you can even pull similar items from different sources—grab a score from the main menu, a bookmark from your most recent setlist, and the currently visible score out of the main view’s title bar. On iPad, you can even close the app you’re working with and open another, or use Slide Over or Split Screen to move certain types of content between apps.

We’ll be exploring many of the uses for these gestures within forScore over the next several weeks, but if you haven’t had a chance to use Drag and Drop be sure to give it a try! It’s an incredible new tool that’s sure to turbocharge your workflow.

Backing Up

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A new year has arrived, and with it comes the perfect opportunity to protect the library you’ve created and maintained with forScore. Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been using the app for years, backing up is an essential part of the process.

We recommend backing up regularly, and especially after you’ve made extensive changes to your library or immediately before installing major iOS or forScore updates. Our knowledge base article on the subject includes detailed instructions on how to do this:

Backing up your data to your computer

For those who got their hands on a shiny new iPad this holiday season, the instructions for transferring your library are similar. The best way to move everything to a new iPad is to restore it from an iTunes or iCloud backup, but when that’s not possible it’s easy to move these files over manually. Here’s how:

Transferring your forScore library to another device

Don’t risk losing all of your hard work this year, back up regularly and turn a good practice into a smart habit. Happy new year!

Features of the Year

| Feature of the Week

We love simple, clear designs, and we strive to make forScore as approachable as possible so that everyone can get started using it as quickly and naturally as possible. For some, that leaves the mistaken impression that forScore is a shallow app, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. That’s why we created this series, the Feature of the Week, and we’ve covered a lot of ground over the past three years.

This holiday week, we wanted to take a moment to recap all of the many features we’ve written and give our readers a chance to catch up on any they may have missed. So without further ado, here’s every feature we’ve discussed so far:

Thanks for reading, and happy holidays!

App Gifting

| Feature of the Week

The holiday season is here and one of our favorite features of the iTunes and App Stores is the ability to purchase content—like albums, movies, books, and apps—for other people. You can pay for the item, add a message, and even schedule the gift email to arrive on a specific date. When it arrives the recipient will get a download code that they can redeem with their own iTunes account.

It’s a great way to send last-minute gifts, or to share an app you’ve enjoyed with someone who perhaps can’t afford or wouldn’t choose to buy it on their own. For more information on app gifting, check out this page on Apple’s website. Happy holidays!

10.3: MIDI Playback

| Feature of the Week

MIDI, the eponymous digital musical language, is a bit of a chameleon. It’s a way of describing musical activity, but in practice that can take several different forms: it can be used to send keystrokes from a keyboard to software that responds almost immediately by producing sound, or it can be used to communicate tempo changes and setup information—like telling that software to use a different sound bank.

It can also be used to save and recreate songs at a later date, much like an audio track such as an MP3 file. Instead of including actual sound information, however, MIDI songs are a record of musical events—this note was pressed with this velocity, this pedal was released, and so on. When software is asked to “play” that information back, it reproduces those actions faithfully but can use any of the sound banks at its disposal to produce results that may sound like they were played on an entirely different instrument. Certain kinds of software can even try to represent that information visually, as sheet music.

With forScore 10.3.4, we added the ability to import, link, and play back MIDI files just like you’ve already been able to do with other audio tracks. You can play them back, add automatic track turns, loop sections, and adjust their playback speed. The first time you try to play a MIDI file you’ll be prompted to download a small sound bank from our servers, then you’ll be ready to go.

Whether you’re using a MIDI device to control forScore’s features and page turns, using score-specific commands, sending messages with buttons, reusing common commands with presets, or using forScore to produce piano sounds as you play, there’s something for everyone in this diverse language. And now, we can add one more: MIDI file playback.

10.3: PDF Annotations

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For several years now forScore has had the ability to display embedded PDF annotations. These additional pieces of information are stored within PDF files, but they’re generally added later—after the file has already been created. Some are pixel-perfect, like images, and others are more symbolic: it’s up to each app to decide how to reproduce them faithfully on your screen.

Our presentation of these annotations has always accommodated page adjustments like margin reduction and cropping, but with forScore ten’s ability to skew pages these annotations were left out due to the complexity of rotating and repositioning them accurately. With forScore 10.3 we made the necessary layout changes to allow these kinds of annotations to be appropriately placed even atop skewed pages, so now you can adjust your pages without sacrificing anything.

For users running iOS 9 or 10, that’s pretty much the end of the story. With iOS 11 and the introduction of PDFKit, however, our support for these annotations was largely made redundant—now we simply let iOS do all of that work for us, providing you with broader support for annotation types and renditions that are more in line with the rest of Apple’s ecosystem.

We never know what Apple is planning and it’s always a risk to develop new features or to build out support for something only to have them come along with something better, but that’s the cost of progress. In the end, our customers get better results and we have less code to maintain. That’s obsolescence we can live with.

10.3: Item Pickers

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Whether you’re adding scores to batch edit them in the Metadata panel, choosing a specific song or setlist to track with Dashboard goals or reports, or appending their pages with the Rearrange tool, the item picker is the tool you use. This picker is a list view that’s similar to the Scores menu but more specific and narrowly focused. There are no arrow buttons and no edit mode or any of its related functions, but things that help you find what you’re looking for quickly—the search bar and filters—are ready should you need them.

It’s a small thing, but in 10.3 we made the item picker a little better by showing additional information such as rating, difficulty, key, and duration for any score that has such metadata. It’s not game-changing, but now when you’re looking for a specific version of a piece you won’t have to rely on its title alone to make sure it’s the right one.

10.3: Importing

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Sharing files between apps is one of the most essential and fundamental parts of working on an iPad. A device focused so heavily on single-purpose tasks needs to play well with others, so almost from the start iOS has offered the “open in…” feature that lets you share your content in a variety of ways. You might, for example, open a PDF in Safari and then choose to send a copy of it to forScore.

These days Drag and Drop is all the rage, and it works very similarly under the hood (even if the way you use it seems entirely different). Drag one or more compatible files from an app right into forScore and drop them onto the page or into a setlist to add a copy to your library. Unlike the old “open in…” method, Drag and Drop lets you import multiple files at once, which leads us to this week’s feature: conflict management.

Sure, it’s not a big front-of-the-box feature, but conflict management is an important part of any file-based app. When you import a file and another file already exists in your forScore library with that name, you’re now prompted to overwrite, duplicate, or skip files with conflicting names. This works just like it always has with the Services panel, but now it’s built right into forScore’s main view and many of its menus. Whether it’s just one file or a set of three with two conflicts, you’ll only be prompted once so you can pick what you need and let forScore do the rest.

10.3: Unlinking Recordings

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forScore’s audio file picker—available from within the Metadata panel’s Audio tab—lets you view and manage audio tracks you’ve imported into your library and allows you to link them to any of your scores or bookmarks, giving you automatic queueing and easier playback control. When you create a recording, however, things work a little differently.

Recordings are automatically linked to the current score or bookmark the moment they’re created. They’re only available to that same piece, and they’re deleted once you remove them from that piece. If you open the audio file picker while viewing that same score or bookmark you’ll see it listed at the top under “recordings,” but as soon as you navigate to any other piece it’ll disappear.

If you prefer to work with recordings just as you would with imported audio files, just swipe from right to left over the recording in the audio file picker and choose “unlink.” You’ll still be able to access the recording and control playback from the piece you created it with, but you’ll also be able to add it to other scores or bookmarks in your library and, if you remove it from any one piece, the file will remain in your library instead of being deleted.

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