Brussels, July 31, 2002
Irregular frequency means that I make a newsletter when I think I have one or a couple of SIP related matters that need sharing among the customer base. While the oldest SIP utility has been around for ten years now, it is obvious that the more recent developments get more coverage. These are of course SipSib and SipSplit version 6 but a couple of interesting things have been done to SipRenum for the renumbering of bars lately.
SipXref has been very stable over the years and only two small fixes were applied in the last year. One has to do with an error that occurred on guitar frames, the other when addressing the CODE9.DAT file. It is not expected to undergo any changes.
If you do not want to receive the SIP newsletter you have to tell me and I will take your address off the mailing list. My preferred format for the newsletter is a Word document. If anyone has another preference I will try to cater for that.
On the website there is also a document which defines the product policy, the plans, and user problem reports. It will continue to be maintained but the format is not one which invites to reading. I hope the newsletter will.
New features are constantly incorporated into the set of utilities called SIP. Many of these features are requests from users. Also, users find bugs and by now you should be used to the fact that I do not hide malfunctions. The sooner they are reported, the sooner they will be fixed and by providing workarounds, other users can avoid situations which would otherwise take them time to find alternative solutions or report problems or raise questions. I have been working a lifetime in mainframe software support and I know that 80% of the bugs have already been encountered by other users - therefor, the publication of known problems is not only a matter of decency but also a service to customers. When you have never worked with mainframes and have grown used to solve your problems by the popular Microsoft invention Cntr-Alt-Del, this may come as a shock.
Many engravers have invested money and learning time into Score while some have megabytes of unpublished MUS files waiting for an opportunity to be published. Therefor Score is here to stay, for a while at least. The philosophy of SIP utilities for Score users is that they can switch from the graphical Windows interface to SCORE, PAGE, and SCORLAS at the push of a button, without typing and without losing flexibility. I consider the Score market as stabilized meaning that there will only be a very moderate number of new users. The offering of third party utilities extends the life of Score which by some is already called a legacy product - one which you would rather part with if it weren't that there is no valid replacement for some of its qualities and features.
Fingering is applied in scores of educational content and for instruments such as classical guitar which does not seem to be playable without (I should know). When instructed to do so, SipSib will recognize numeric or alphabetic fingers and align these to notes. One can either ask SipSib to generate fingering as Code01 Par11 marks, or as Code10 or Code16 items. A new chapter (5.19) will be added to the user guide in the coming days. When you do not tell SipSib that fingering is the Sibelius score and the converter encounters it, it will be handled as text and items are not aligned to notes.
(2) Size of the panel
So many options exist in fingering conversion setup that the panel had to be enlarged. This is also an advantage for some of the tabs which were getting quite crowded and which have been spaced out a bit.
(3) new Strategy option
One of the orchestral works recently presented to SipSib by a user contained a woodblock in the percussion section which was 'notated' (word refused by the spelling checker - is this correct English?) on three lines. The staff lines were exceptionally widely spaced and the spacing fell out of the recognition limits of SipSib so the three lines were interpreted as three staves of one line. Wrong. The limit was hardcoded as 60 Sibelius points while in this case the distance was 64. Normal staves have 32, small staves 24 points between lines. (Occasionally Sibelius behaves strange by randomly including a distance of 23 in between other staff lines that are spaced at 24). Now in the strategy panel, the user can influence the maximum distance. If you only use regular staves, keep the default value of 60 and when occasionally you have situations as this woodblock, make it 64.
(4) Dummy items
Sometimes, SipSib combines two or more Score items into one during a post-processing phase. While all items have been generated at that time, it changes the consumed items into dummy Code13 items. You can suppress these items but it means that the item number which is given occasionally in warnings will be off. When dummy items were generated, an appropriate message will tell the user.
(5) Faster conversion result inspection
The names of all generated MUS files are now put in a list box, and by clicking a name, that file will immediately be shown by Score.
Code09 items now can optionally be converted to Par5=3xxx. When a text comes by, SipSib looks it up in the DAT file and sets the corresponding Par5 if instructed to use this capability.
Errors when signaled are usually fixed within 24 hours of reporting. Miracles take a little longer.
· When you have defined Score type output names (in the Output tab), the tooltip of the 'Convert' button not always showed the proper first output name. This was corrected. Move your cursor to the button and wait a few seconds for the tip to appear.
· In case of multivoice music, the duration of a dotted quarter note with stem down occurring under a flagged eighth note with stem up would be off (Code01 Par7). This was corrected.
· Some x-notes were flagged as being unconnectable to a stem. This was improved.
· The percussion clef of irregular staves (less than 5 lines) was not vertically in the middle. Now it is. Staves with one or three lines translate properly but there is no experience yet with other odd staves. This is where users can help me by sending test material.
· Sibelius has no restriction in the number of characters in a text while Score is restricted to 160 characters including the font prefix. Would you believe I forgot to check this? Yes, and Score would exit when you selected the item. Also it would give a strange message (a DRW item not found…). Problem fixed. When it occurs, a warning is issued and the text is truncated.
One user renumbered the bars of his parts after extraction. One part had a repeat which he did not want to copy twice but he still wanted the bars of this portion counted twice. He asked for a solution. A quick and dirty workaround was suggested to put in one invisible barline for every normal barline in that portion of the part. SipRenum can be instructed to count invisible bars and this solved his problem.
The absolute nightmare to a one-man software operation happened last week. A new customer mailed me that he could not get his CD installed. Now every CD, before it leaves the shop is installed on my quality assurance system which is physically separate from the development environment and I have a test scenario (Installation Verification Procedure) which I execute to see if everything is fine. Works wonders. But not always. Via additional mail and some phone calls (transatlantic - on my expenses) the installation was done flawlessly. For some reason which remains to be identified, the program did not know in which directory it was working. The problem could not be recreated. Adding this to my 'lessons learned', I included a diagnostic message in the next version of SIP that when the standard file selection routine SipNames (used by most SIP utilities) cannot be located in the directory where it is supposed to be, sufficient information is provided which should clarify the situation might it occur anew. SIP is a robust product and instabilities ought to be remedied before they happen. This occasion at least prepared me mentally for the worst case scenario: when for some reason a product for which you have paid does not install on your system, I will do an immediate refund when the CD is returned.
Reactions from users tell me that the choices to download updates are confusing. I will try to make this more straightforward but until then please contact me directly if any questions remain.
Jan de Kloe