There have been a few speed-enhancing and production-enhancing tools for music notation software (Finale, Sibelius, Dorico) out in the marketplace for a while now. Some of these are macro programs, allowing you to write scripts to perform repetitive tasks or other functions, i.e. FinaleScript or Keyboard Maestro. Others, like Elbsound’s Perfect Layout or the various Bob Zawalich plug-ins for Sibelius are really more like separate programs that function on an even deeper level than macro scripts. All of these tools can be amazing time-savers and really make your engraving much more professional.
One of the latest is the JetStream Finale Controller. This product, which can be used with the Elgato StreamDeck or with a mobile app, is a synthesis of the powerful JW Lua programming language and the physical interface of the StreamDeck controller. For those of us mere mortals who don’t code (myself include at this point) or haven’t even written a FinaleScript, (I can help you learn how to do that BTW) this is a great tool. It provides hundreds of features and shortcuts to almost every task you can think of in Finale, making everything from tool selection to even complex functions more accessible and streamlined.
I purchased a StreamDeck last year to help expand some of my FinaleScript triggering and to help automate several file naming tasks or other simple repetitive functions. Now with the newly released JetStream software, I have been using them both in my work even more in the last few months. There are so many functions and possibilities that it can almost be overwhelming and knowing where to start can be a bit a puzzle, but with some trial and error, the vast power of these tools can really start to shine.
One of my favorite aspects of the JetStream controller is that it comes with a default StreamDeck profile but also another preset profile for you to use to create your own custom workflows or button arrangements. This is extremely useful as now you can have the best of both worlds, where you can copy functions from the main profile, without altering it, and copy those into your new profile all with a couple mouse clicks. This brings the vast list of functions and tools down to a manageable level where the most common functions can be grouped together in new sequences that fit your desired workflow for any given project.
There are so many other customizations and possibilities with these tools. I could go on for days, but better still, check out the JetStream Controller website and YouTube page for more details, tutorials and tips. These are great resources to keep handy as you begin to explore these new tools.
All this being said, you may be wondering whether the JetStream Controller is only for professionals or Finale power-users. Actually, I would say the opposite. JetStream can be as useful and effective for a novice user as a seasoned pro. The ability generate custom tool sets will inspire pros to rethink how they perform various tasks, while the novice will find the physical interface helpful and easy to navigate and will reduce time spent looking through menus or dozens of extra mouse clicks.
So, in the end, has the JetStream changed the way I work…. somewhat. I have found it to be more useful for working on my Mac in Finale than on my PC, as I have several tasks reprogrammed using the TG Menu Shortcut (check out my blog post about that tool here) that perform some of the same functions with keyboard shortcuts that are faster for me to use than pressing a button and taking my hand off the keyboard. On a Mac, that TG Tool plug-in isn’t available, so I have shifted a lot of those functions over to the StreamDeck/JetStream ecosphere with great success and efficiency improvement.
Mainly, these tools have inspired me to continue to refine and rethink my workflows. There are lots functions that for me as a copyist (which is my main job) aren’t really useful. However, they would be used far more by an orchestrator or composer, who is entering notes and other information from the beginning. I am often cleaning up or reformatting scores and parts, so I start at a different place, which makes some of those tools less valuable to me. However, when I am engraving a hand-written score, or a score from a PDF or other file that is out of print, I definitely use the JetStream controller more often.
All in all the quantity and quality of these tools is too high to pass up. Oh, did I mention that the JetStream controller software is free; and the StreamDeck has various options, all of which are very reasonable, so there’s really almost no risk of you wasting time or money. My advice is to try them out and have some fun exploring new ways of working and I bet you’ll be amazed at what you can do. Again, definitely check out the YouTube channel for some how-to videos and longer explanations of all the various functions. Happy JetStream-setting!
Sammy Sanfilippo, CEO of Engraver's Mark Music