Win 10, Fin 26
Here are the two issues in Finale's literature that seem to slow my workflow the most: Organization, and Overlap.
My goal is to try and get the absolute best sound possible for the demos which accompany my published pieces. I have an inkling of what Finale is capable of from the advertisements and demos for things like JABB3, so I know that Finale can showcase my arrangements with great, realistic sounds. But to get those sounds requires a LOT of work, initially, and that process seems slowed down by the maze of false trails, circular solutions, and outdated information that logjams Finale's online resources.
Organization in the Threads
Often, my issues are Playback-related. Searching is a lot more time-consuming because of the lack of organization in the threads. There are often multiple cases for any given issue, and, even though I search under Finale 26, I may get solutions from every version from the early 2000s to my version, and from both Mac and Win platforms, even when I specify Windows or version 26. I'll admit that this sometimes is good enough to solve my problem, even if it's from a different version, or Pro-Tools, or Cubase questions, or merely a related question that only hints at what the fix might be. But what happens more often than not is that I simply spend a lot more time looking for answers. In a recent case, it was days; not hours or minutes.
Organization in the Encyclopedia
Currently, the Finale Encyclopedia I have access to looks like an IMDB listing of "Friends" episodes: "The one where Ross...", "The one where Rachel...". Not really alphabetically organized. IF you read through the whole thing (IF you have time), there may be a pattern you find that can help you predictably find the answers you seek. But I haven't had time to read through it that much.
I have been able to figure out that it's a font issue: the fonts for the Headings and the Subheadings are so similar, it looks like the Rosetta Stone; an indecipherable mishmash. Putting the main headings in a bold, or at least easily-noticeable larger font would help me.
I know it would take a lot of time and money, but it would be great if something like the old biology taxonomic charts (kingdom, phylum, class, order, etc.), could be used to organize this powerful software, and streamline its use. I have no idea what would work best, but maybe it could be built off of every tab, menu, and sub-menu.
I'm not that interested in the Publishing issues. Oh, don't get me wrong: I use Finale to publish my music, but it's so well-automated that I usually just print a PDF and upload it to my publisher's website. That part is usually really easy. Sure, sometimes there are questions of page size, margins, whatever, but, in general, the software is set up so well that it's no problem.
I can understand that there have to be redundant operations. I can well imagine that it's due to Finale's versatility, and that each operation needs to be performed independently; but a reminder/cue (like parenthetical accidentals) would help. For instance, can things like the Document/Page Format.../Page Size be linked, or asterisked with a reminder to Tools/Page Layout/Page Size to make sure that the necessary corresponding other screens are adjusted?
The problems of Overlap, furthermore, seem to be exacerbated by new software (new Windows platforms, for instance), and Multiple-Solution Syndrome, i.e., Finale is so versatile that, often, more than one solution will solve a problem. How do you let the user know all the different possible solutions, so they can find the one that works best for them? There are solutions in the User Manual which aren't available at other official Finale sites. It's almost as if the Finale Empire is a loose confederation of Independent Finale States, each with its own rules.
Overlap also has its false side, "You can't get there from here." For instance, there may be several solutions given on a page, but none of them will work, due to something specific in the user's computer. (I'm thinking of a time I was told to type Sound into my Windows Key menu, then find "Properties". But my system didn't have a "Properties" tab. Not Finale's fault, of course, but important to know.)
The ARIA Player's Mixer/Pan/Send screen of is a good example of the problem: you can adjust the instrument sounds, but they won't stay; they will revert to whatever the Score Manager has. Why, then, have the knobs on the ARIA Player adjustable without a disclaimer? A novice Finale user, will probably make adjustments on the knobs, because they respond to his/her input. There isn't anything I've seen there that discourages trying to edit there, and the only way one finds out that the values don't save is when/if one notices that their changes haven't been saved. Even after "Save". I don't know that it would be easy, but a notification could be put on the ARIA screen: "Value changes will not take effect; use only Score Manager or Mixer View" or something like that.
Because there are so many options, and because technology is always growing, I can understand why things like the Audio Setup can be tough to address--my own pc doesn't always seem to know what it wants to use, itself! So, I don't mean to be critical, but there's a lack of discernable organization to the software's literature that really takes a lot of time, seemingly unnecessarily. Google is often great, and YouTube's videos are often helpful--Jason Loffredo's are priceless--but there's a problem of overlap with them, too, and not getting "Finale version 26" every time you search for it.
Maybe a poll would show that this isn't anyone else's concern; just mine. Maybe there's something like this already in place. If there is, I've been using Finale for about a decade, and haven't found it yet; I've been busy writing as much as I can. But I would like to get my demos sounding a little better, and that is where the organization would help, time-wise.
Again, I do not mean to sound critical. Finale has been my sole help in recording and publishing music, a rewarding pursuit and lifelong dream. Because of Finale, specifically, I have music that gets played at receptions in the White House (in Washington, DC) by some of our nation's finest musicians. I would, however, like to have more of my music played, everywhere. Streamlining the literature would help me expedite my workflow.
Thanks for your time.