SIP Newsletter #20

Nantes, December 4th, 2004

- 100 SIP licenses

Dear Score user,

This week I delivered the one hundredth SIP license. A few remarks are to be made at this centennial.
While a modest figure, it proves that there are enough SCORE engravers who think that SIP adds value to their operation. SIP users come in three groups really:

Group 1, the advanced users
Those are the ones that continuously hit me with suggestions. Apparently, SIP is a collection of tools for them which are very much part of their production and they could not work as conveniently or have learned to save tons of time. For some SIP has become a mission critical production tool.

Group 2, the single-utility user
These are the engravers that bought SIP for only one trick they needed only once or maybe regularly. Some of these engravers only use the freeware and had to buy the cheapest licensed product to get the freeware. An example which springs to mind is the person who only bought SIP to use SipPMX. Others just wanted bar numbering or lyrics extraction.

Group 3, the occasional or non-user
Yes, they exist. They ordered SIP and I do not even know if they installed it. Never heard from them again. Are they using it? Is the documentation on my website that clear? Do they like it?

Note that some users bought all licensed products (SipXref, SipSplit, SipSib, SipXML, SipEPS, SipText). The latter program however is not selling as well as I had hoped, probably because it came too late. The single qualifier for SipText seems to be its Cyrillic extension which makes me conclude that the kerning feature is not really a hot issue.

The absolute top-hit is SipSib (Sibelius to Score) because its purchase is justified by a single business case, while other tools are just adding quality or comfort. SipXML is expected to become more of a success now that newer Finale with the Dolet plug-in produces high-quality MusicXML. I have heard that Finale no longer produces EPS which would mean the finale for FinalScore.
While originally SIP tools were developed because I needed them myself, the more modern ones (SipSib, SipXML, and SipText) were developed because others suggested them - or in other words, because I expected to make money from their development. For SipSib that is certainly the case. The other two have not generated enough sales yet to make up for the slightest portion of the many hours I put into their development.

Then there are the aborted and frozen utilities. Aborted while I thought there would be potential users but then there turned out not to be. The development was shelved for lack of further interest. In this category:
SipTpose - transposition utility, works for 80%.
SipTab - tablature editor, works for 95%.
SipNiff - NIFF to SCORE converter, works for 60%. Abandoned because of the bleak future of the standard. I suggested collaboration with an active user at the University of Cork but never got a reply.

One very handy program - SipInput
First I decided not to market this product. It is a high speed music entry program which I have been using for twelve years, and still do for every engraving project. Then when I offered it, interest had dwindled probably because it is so much nicer to input with Sibelius or Finale and then convert to Score. If anyone is still interested, let me know.

Planned utilities are the following:
SipSplit version 6 - Replaces the current SipSplit - working for 30%. While this product in Version 5 is currently stable and enjoys many users, there are a few things that justify the complete rewrite - the most prominent reason would be voice separation. While Version 5 is still a DOS task, Version 6 will be pure Windows. Currently, one user is screaming for it.
SipAccs - Accidental alignment. This calls the ACCS utility by Tom Brodhead. Potentially the best choice to invest my time on and available soon.
SipLedger - Ledger line width adapter. While in SCORE you do not have control over the ledger line width, this program massages the EPS file to adapt such lines as desired. No active request pending but practically working.
SipReduc - Create a piano reduction from an orchestral score. There were two answers to my public request for requirements and its potential is therefore pretty low.

Current priorities
All my development time currently goes into SipXML. While operational, there is still a number of topics to be dealt with: (1) improve bar filtering - unstable at this moment; (2) improve pick-up bar handling; (3) improve LJ-ability by inserting invisible rests where Dolet forgets to generate them; (4) improve handling of fingering as soon as Dolet manages this issue; (5) support of TAB.
Then I should revive SipSplit version 6. Whenever this works, licensed users of the previous versions can obtain the upgrade for handling cost. Both the DOS version (version 5) and the Windows version (version 6) can operate under a single control center.

Pricing policy
When I had to think of a price for SipXML, I based that on the comparable product FinalScore. For other products, the price is based on a mix between the assumed gain for the user and the relation between the time I spend on the development and the number of expected copies sold. Clearly, this little industry falls in the non-profit sector. As long as I can afford this, it will continue this way.
Since a few months however, I have priced the products in both Euro for Europe and US$ for the rest of the world. Evidently, the way these two currencies diverge from each other should not mean that American users (still the largest segment) should get a 35% price increase or that I practically give away the products at my side of the ocean.

The future of SIP
As long as Score lives will there be a need for additional tools. SIP has shown to be flexible enough to follow with what the market needs. The small user community has been constructive in providing feature extensions and new utilities. In the course of the years I have shown responsiveness to your needs and will continue to do so with more intensity since as of January 2005 I will be spending all my time on music, engraving, and engraving tools. This month is my last one as an Information Technology consultant, a job which I have had since 1965 in various capacities, from programming to testing methodology, from data base management and security to disaster recovery.
Thank you, dear customers, for your continued support!

Your collaborative supplier,
Jan de Kloe

Long live SCORE!

Jan de Kloe