Finale and the Creature of Habit – Part 3, Templates

As I mentioned last time, Templates combine all the power of Document Styles with the specificity of Ensembles.Like Document Styles, they include all Finale libraries, so that you can control, for example, what expressions, chords, and articulations are available to you –  as well as indicate your Document Settings preferences. If you are repeatedly writing for one specific group of fixed instrumentation, and really want ultimate control over things like group names and staff positioning, Templates are the choice for you. And so for this, the third and final missive in our Creature of Habit series, we’ll concentrate on Templates.

To create a template, simply save a Finale file. Really. Windows users have an additional option to save their scores as .FTM files, and this is fine too, but you don’t have to do this – as we’ll see in a moment; simply saving your Finale file as usual works just fine.

Where you save the file is important, however, as if you can’t find it, you can’t use it. While you can save these files anywhere, I suggest that you save your template in the default location:

(Mac) HD>Applications>Finale 2010>Templates>Homemade

(Windows) C:\Program Files\Finale 2010\Templates\Homemade

In the above examples I created a folder called “Homemade” and placed it in the Templates folder, just to make it clear to me which templates came from where. You might choose a less home-spun name, or simply toss them loose in the Templates folder – there’s nothing tricky is going on here as long as you know where to find them.

The trick is in opening a template. To do so, either choose “Templates” from Finale’s Launch Window, or go to File>New>Document from Template. This brings you to a standard Open dialog box, already pointing at the Templates folder I suggested above, from which you can open ANY Finale file. (Windows users will note that only FTM files currently appear, but they can view/open all files [just like Mac users do] by clicking on the “Files of type” drop-down and choosing “All Files.”)

Once you open a file in this way, you’ll find yourself in the last two pages of Finale’s Setup Wizard, where you can indicate those items that may be unique to your current project; things like the title, the key signature, the tempo, etc.  One cool thing you might notice as you do this is how text is treated. Let’s say that your “template” file has a title, composer and copyright information. As you fill out this Setup Wizard you need only to enter in those items that you wish to change, so you might only enter something under the title, and leave everything else blank. Finale will overwrite the things you change (like the title), but will retain the things you don’t change (like the composer and copyright information). It’s more complicated to explain than it is to use, so I suggest you conduct a brief experiment to try this out – it works really well.

You might also notice that when you create a document from a template, that the resulting file is opened as “Untitled,” and will prompt you for a new name when you save it (leaving the original template unchanged).

Now that we’re clear on how to create and open templates, we’ve now reached the part of the blog where I begin to free-associate.

Remember Goofus and Gallant?  This was a cartoon in the magazine “Highlights for Children,” which, as far as I know, has never been seen outside of a dentist’s or doctor’s waiting room. In the cartoon, Goofus always demonstrated how NOT to do things, while Gallant would model good behavior. Of course I’ve always rooted for Goofus, and so today’s blog will include an example of my own behavior, which I will attribute to Goofus.

Goofus creates a huge score in a version of Finale released in the late 1980s, before Macintosh computers came with newfangled things like hard drives. Because Goofus often writes for the same large ensemble, he decides to make a template from the score, so he manually deletes all the notes and saves the resulting file. In the intervening years, he has opened and saved this same template in many different versions of Finale. In some cases, he makes some additions to the file so he saves off a copy, deletes all the notes again, and again saves it.

You can do this. People besides Goofus do. It’s just not the best plan. Why?

Actually there are several reasons. For one, you won’t always get the benefit of changes made to the Finale program. Old template files will demonstrate old slur and old tuplet behavior and not the very best slurs and tuplets Finale can provide today. Old templates may point to obsolete music and text fonts, some of which may no longer be on your system. Old templates will not include any of the additions that are made in the Finale Default files each year: When features like Expressions and Chords get completely overhauled, the corresponding libraries get overhauled to take advantage of the new features. The old files -and libraries – still work, but they offer only a fraction of the power the newer software is capable of. In addition, unwanted library items – which you will never use again – often accumulate in these types of files, and you’re better off without the added baggage.

Again, you CAN do this, just as you CAN go surfing, during a hurricane, wearing shark pheromone-scented cologne, while under the influence of cold medicine – it’s just not a great idea.

Therefore, my tip is that you develope a new habit of creating a new template (or templates) each time you upgrade. Whether you upgrade once a year or less frequently, creating a new templates at the same time will insure that you take advantage of all Finale has to offer – and give you an opportunity to update the date in your Copyright text too!

You might start with the Setup Wizard, fine-tune the result as you wish, and then save off a copy before you enter in all the notes from your next project.

Another option is to start with one of our existing templates and edit them as necessary. For example, open the Full Orchestra template that shipped with Finale 2010 and see the elegant solution it offers for group and staff names for Flutes, Oboes, and other groups (see below). Again, this type of control is unique to our Template solution, so take advantage of it!

This example is from Finale 2010’s Full Orchestra template. If you prefer this look over “Flute” centered on each flute staff, consider starting your next score with a Finale 2010 template.

I hope these posts sparked some ideas in how you might replace old habits with new. I welcome your feedback – should I have provided more hands-on steps and screenshots, for example? Please chime in with your suggestions as well as your template tips, memories of childhood comics, cologne recomendations, or anything else that comes to mind!

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