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Re: No fiddling claim

From: Kieren MacMillan
Subject: Re: No fiddling claim
Date: Sun, 27 Sep 2009 18:20:33 -0400

HI Jonathan,

what do the experienced users think about what I've said here?
If there's anyone out there who has used other notational
software and thinks the "less fiddling" claim is true?

I used Finale from 1991-2003, eventually becoming *quite* proficient.
Then I switched to Lilypond (around v1.8), and now consider myself at least as proficient [relatively speaking] as I was with Finale. [I used Igor Engraver (v1.5) for a year or so in the interim, but that product died, which is why I ended up looking elsewhere and finding Lilypond...]

I definitely feel the "less fiddling" claim is true... for me, for the type of music I engrave, and for the particular quality of output I desire/demand.

That being said, if you don't particularly care about Finale's *horrible* [default] note-spacing, lyric placement, etc., then there would almost certainly be less fiddling time required with Finale — I just find that with Lilypond, I do almost no note or lyric adjustment, measure width/spacing adjustment, and so on, which are the activities that took up the bulk of my "tweaking" time with Finale. [Disclaimer, the last version I used was 2003, so things might be much better now.]

Right now, I estimate the following for my engraving work using Lilypond: 1. Basic note entry (including *all* items, e.g., slurs, articulations, fingering, etc.) requires 20%-50% as long as I used to spend with Finale. 2. Spacing tweaks (notes, lyrics, vertical spacing, etc.) requires less than 5% of the time I used to spend with Finale. 3. Specific tweaks (like the ones you mention) take 2-5 times [!!] as long as I used to spend with Finale.

I roughly estimate that #1 represents 50% of my total engraving time, #2 is about 40%, and #3 is the final 10%. So taking the *worst case* scenario [for Lilypond], a hypothetical piece that would take 100 min to engrave in Finale means: (50 min @ 50% time) + (40 min @ 5% time) + (10 min at 500% time) = 25 min + 2 min + 50 min = 77 min = 77% of the time I used to spend doing the same work in Finale.

This is obviously non-scientific and anecdotal to the extreme... but the final result (i.e., that I *never* spend more than about 3/4 of the time I used to working in Finale) seems about right. I tend to feel like I currently get things done in 1/2 the time, on average.

Of course, YMMV — in particular, if the spacing atrocities in Finale aren't where you spend your time, you will not see nearly as much benefit from using Lilypond, and in fact it may overall require more time.

Hope this helps!

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