Amidst last week’s announcement about the release of Finale 2014, it may have been easy to overlook another announcement from MakeMusic that directly benefits Sibelius users. Dolet 6.3 for Sibelius, the plug-in that saves music in the MusicXML file interchange format, was also released on November 4, 2013.
MusicXML is supported by more than 170 applications on both desktop and mobile platforms, including both read and write support on Sibelius, Finale, MuseScore, NOTION, Cubase, and many more products. Products as diverse as Logic Pro X (write-only), LilyPond (read-only), and NotateMe (write-only) support MusicXML. According to the MusicXML web site, “You can count on MusicXML files being readable and usable by a wide range of music notation applications, now and in the future. MusicXML complements the native file formats used by Finale and other programs, which are designed for rapid, interactive use.”
Users not following every twist and turn in the world of music notation software development may not be aware that MakeMusic is the owner of the MusicXML open format and the Dolet technology, having acquired them from Recordare in 2011. Recordare’s founder, MusicXML inventor Michael Good, subsequently assumed a new position of director of digital sheet music at MakeMusic. Having previously been a paid product (and worth every penny), Dolet was made free to users shortly after the acquisition closed.
Dolet 6.3 for Sibelius is the first update to Dolet in more than a year, and it works with Sibelius 5.1 and later. According to MakeMusic:
Version 6.3 improves the export of open key / atonal scores for better compatibility with Finale 2014. It also adds full accidental export from Sibelius 7.1.3. It also fixes the following issues:
- Accidentals were sometimes exported incorrectly from transposed music.
- Export of staff layout processing instructions for extra space could create invalid MusicXML files.
Dolet 6.3 can be downloaded from the Dolet download area. After choosing either Mac or Windows download, you’ll be taken to MakeMusic’s store, where you’ll need to create an account (or log in with an existing one) in order to download the product.
The installer is straightforward, and full instructions are available. Be sure to quit Sibelius before running the installing on either PC or Mac. If your installation is successful, you’ll see the following in your Plug-ins menu (screenshot from Sibelius 7):
Recent versions of Sibelius have had the ability to open MusicXML files, but built-in support for exporting MusicXML files only came to Sibelius with Sibelius 7 (File > Export > MusicXML). With built-in support for MusicXML available, why would Sibelius 7 users want to use the Dolet plug-in? I posed this question to Michael Good, who recommended that people try both to see which one works better for their needs.
Michael further explained, “The MusicXML export built into Sibelius 7 is different code than the Dolet 6 for Sibelius plug-in. The Sibelius developers wrote Sibelius’s MusicXML code, while I wrote the Dolet for Sibelius plug-in. So there is no equivalent Dolet version to what is built into Sibelius 7.1.3.
“I was expecting that Sibelius 7 would make the Dolet for Sibelius plug-in obsolete,” Michael continued. “Sibelius 7’s built-in MusicXML export can include many things like formatting data that aren’t available to ManuScript plug-ins. With Dolet 6.3 for Sibelius’s new support for accidental export, we have once again reached the limit of what we can export given ManuScript’s limitations in Sibelius 7.1.3. Sibelius’s built-in MusicXML export also runs much faster, as it’s written in C++ rather than ManuScript.”
Many users continue to use the Dolet 6 for Sibelius plug-in, even for Sibelius 7 files. Why do they keep using it? “It seems to be the maturity of the software,” Michael concluded. “The Dolet 6 for Sibelius plug-in has been written over the past 10 years. It was developed for customers that needed to transfer lots of files from Sibelius to other programs. Many corner-case issues have been ironed out over that time, and features were added to support automated workflows. The Sibelius 7 implementation was new for that release, so there hasn’t been the opportunity for that level of refinement.”
Of course, since built-in MusicXML export was only added in Sibelius 7, users of Sibelius 5 and 6 will need to use the Dolet plug-in. The latest Dolet 6.3 update also appears to be a better choice when moving a keyless score to Finale 2014. “Otherwise,” Michael said, “it really depends on what works best for your situation.”
Michael further noted that “the built-in MusicXML implementation and the Dolet for Finale plug-in do indeed share the same code.” In other words, Dolet 6.4 for Finale is equivalent to the built-in Finale 2014 functionality, which makes sense, given that both are MakeMusic products.