SIP Newsletter #19

Nantes, November 22, 2004

- SipSib - Sibelius to Score converter
- SipXML - MusicXML to Score converter
- SipXlyr - lyrics extractor
- Incompatibility of Windows environments and its effect on SIP development
- New download summary

Dear Score user,

The convertors SipSib and SipXML are the the most popular utilities in my range of tools for SCORE engravers and in the last months I have practically exclusively worked on those.
I recently heard that Finale is now suppressing EPS output which would make this product less interesting for desk top publishers and for users of FinalScore. That would mean the end for FinalScore and increase the potential for SipXML. Is there anyone who can confirm this?
There are only a few changes to SipSib but a major part of the coding of SipXML was rewritten, fixing many of the restrictions and known bugs.

SipSib - Sibelius to Score converter

We are currently at Build level 062. The changes to SipSib in the last four versions are summarized here:
- articulation can be a 'natural' sign in parentheses. This is now supported.
- first and second endings which converted well in earlier Sibelius versions did no longer work as of 3. When Sibelius upgrades its product to the extend that the generated EPS is different, the converter obviously needs to be adapted. Thanks to reports from astute users, the quality of the converter can be adapted accordingly.
- users with a Sibelius house style for non standard thickness of barlines reported that the barlines were not translated. This has now been fixed since all house styles for barlines are now recognized. There is however still a restriction that you need to know about: It is impossible for SipSib to categorize a vertical barline of non standard thickness when its top and bottom do not touch a top and bottom staff line as is the case for single staff line percussion.
- when lyrics had a dash on the left of the first syllable in a text underlay, it would not be recognized. This has been fixed. - dots following a double barline were, depending on Sibelius house style setting, not alway recognized as such. This has been improved.

SipXML - MusicXML to Score converter

As said, a major portion of the program has been redesigned and recoded. The part most drastically changed is that of the signature handling (clef, key, time). Also, the layout option has been extended and both bar and part filtering have been qualified. Users would be wise to download the upgrade (Version 2, build 012) as well as the user guide (ditto). Maintenance of version 1 builds (001-011) is no longer considered.

Among the improvements:
- improved tie handling (when a note was tied on both sides, this would not be converted correctly).
- LJ-ability improved (however, Dolet is rather crummy in this area as it does not know the invisible rest notion).
- assure that hairpins are not too far above or below a staff.
- show first result file rather than last.
- allow definition of number of output systems per page.
- improved handling of overlapping notes.
- fixed misplaced lyrics dash (as in the sample file Schubert Ave Maria).
- improved percussion clef recognition and vertical placement of whole rests on such staff.
- fixed cross-staff note generation (as in sample file Dichterliebe, the E# in bar bar2).
- bar numbers now provided in output file summary.
- fixed part group handling (system braces were not correctly converted).
- removed bar number offset (Code10 option).
- bass-step letter forced to be lower case so harmony D/A becomes D/a.
- long refrains in summary continued on more lines

SipXlyr - Lyrics extractor

A small fix was necessary to guarantee the proper sort order in case of note-centered syllables. The upgrade 4.0 is downloadable.

Incompatibility of Windows environments and its effect on SIP development

The following text was sent to the SCORE forum on November 16, 2004:

A few SIP customers have recently been hit with installation problems. Nothing is more frustrating for a customer than to receive SIP for which he paid good money and not being able to install the thing. Since the beginning of this year, three customers had such installation problems and I describe them here to explain the rising levels of incompatibility between Windows.

First let me tell you how things worked in the past. My development system was Windows95, later Windows98 and the SIP's that I distributed installed without any problems on 95, 98, NT, ME, XP and 2000.

What has changed since?
1. I changed to Windows XP as a development platform in November 2003.
2. Microsoft declared war on simple life about that time.
3. I upgraded my XP to Service Pack 2 in October 2004.

The combination of these things caused frustration in the life of some SIP customers and myself and is not doing the product reputation any favor.

Case 1: The user has Windows2000 SP4 and SIP was made on XP SP1. It would not install. I upgraded my Windows2000 SP2 to SP4, copied the development system from my XP to my new Windows2000 SP4, made the delivery CD and it worked.

Case 2: The details of this case have been lost. The customer has a multitude of platforms and when it would not install on his favorite system he simply used another platform and closed the issue.

Case 3: A WindowsME customer could not install the version I prepared on XP SP2. I do not have such ME system for development so I moved my development environment to my Windows98, made the CD, found an ME user nearby where I tested the installation. This was successful. However, the customer's ME would not install it. He also has an XP on which the install did not cause a problem.

So while in all situations a solution or a less convenient work-around was found, we are faced with incompatibilities between Windows families making our lives complicated. It has cost me many days of work and I had to do additional shipments (While individual modules can be downloaded once updated, the initial delivery cannot).

Where is this industry going?
The source of this issue is a basic error in the design of Windows. When distributing a package, system modules are added to the package which may be of a different version than those on the target machine. When installing a package, nothing happens when those versions are equal but when they are different, the user gets the option to replace his system modules by the newer versions. While theoretically this should not cause a problem, in reality it does and now that XP and W2000 each seem to go their own way and not bother about downward compatibility, there is no hope in heaven that this will straighten out. Or is there? I know that one software supplier delivers Windows applications without using any system function from the target platform - they have their own run time library included and it is rather bulky. This approach is not an option for SIP as I have committed long ago to use Microsoft Visual Basic as primary development environment and I will not develop a private run time library in C++ or otherwise. Too much work.

So what is the basic design error Microsoft made? That there can be only one version of a system module within one platform, that is why. The problem was solved 40 years ago on the mainframe. Haven't these guys learned anything?

One more horror story? The SIP install made on XP SP2 when installed on Windows98 gave a message to the effect that there was incompatibility. I answered to take the newest version of the DLL in question. Don't try this at home because I did. The module OLEAUT32.DLL was replaced and from that moment my Windows98 would no longer work. Reinstallation of Windows98 did not restore that particular module! I needed to replace the module from another Windos98 via DOS, as the command level still worked.

While at one time I could pride myself with the slogan that SIP would work on any Windows, this is no longer the case. When ordering SIP, mention the exact platform and hope for the best when the installation CD arrives. I am rather confident for Windows98, WindowsXP and Windows2000 SP4 but not for the others. You have your money back guarantee.

SipXlyr - Lyrics extractor

Today, the following upgrades can be downloaded:
- SipXML (Version 2, build 012 as described above)
- SipSib (Build 062, as described above)
- Sipcntrl.hlp (new help file, version 4.13)
- SipGetos.exe (required if you have Windows ME, version 1.6)
- Sip98.ppt (PowerPoint presentation in PDF, version 3.25, replacing web version)

Long live SCORE!

Jan de Kloe