Finale Blog: Meet Plug-in Developer Jari Williamsson

In addition to playing in the first violin section of Sweden’s Gothenburg Opera, Jari Williamsson is a Finale plug-in developer, the creator of the Finale Productivity Tips website, a composer, a font designer, and much more.

As an independent software developer, Jari has worked for MakeMusic for many years, creating plug-ins we’ve designed for inclusion with Finale. Jari also designs and creates his own plug-ins, some of which have been licensed and incorporated into Finale, while others can be downloaded – for free – from his website. Michael Johnson, MakeMusic’s manager of notation quality assurance, had this to say about what typifies Jari’s plug-ins:

“Jari has a great knack for providing plug-ins that truly tame mundane tasks with a click of a button: A list of my favorites would include Score System Divider, JW Topline Notation, and JW AlphaNotes, to name just a few.”

In addition to offering free plug-ins, Jari has also provided assistance to countless Finale users through the years, not only via his own website, which also offers tips and info, but also as a frequent contributor to various on-line Finale discussions, generously providing tips to other users via the Finale forums, our blog, facebook, and other meeting places.

Since fellow plug-in developer Tobias Giesen’s great 2005 interview of Jari covers his background in some depth (and can be viewed here on Jari’s site), I thought we’d focus on more resent aspects of his career.

Scott Yoho: What has changed since Tobias interviewed you in 2005?

Jari Williamsson: Since 2005, we had a second child, and the kids have occupied much of my time during the last few years.

Nevertheless, a year ago I completely redesigned my Finale tips site. It’s much more interactive, so any user can now add new material to the site if they wish.

A major change in the approach to my plug-in development is regarding the user interface. I now try to keep the plug-ins as option-free as possible, without sacrificing flexibility. For example, JW Rhythm Copy has virtually unlimited “options” without any dialog box, since the music pattern itself is used to describe what the user wants to achieve. I plan to use this approach on more plug-ins in the future.

SY: Why do you create all these plug-ins?

JW: To be able to use Finale. ;-)

More seriously, since the kids are now growing up and I get more time, I’ll start to compose again. And I want a transparent workflow that doesn’t require multiple steps or serious editing during the composition process. So the plug-ins are very much for my own needs.

Also, I create plug-ins because Finale let me control so many tiny details of the document. To me, that’s very rewarding both as a developer and as a user, since I can combine these finer details into automated “new” kind of music notation through a plug-in. I would not yet say that Finale can do anything (I still have my own wish list to get even more control in Finale!), but Finale certainly is close to it.

SY: Do you work with Finale much these days?

JW: Actually, in the last couple of years my primary use of Finale has been in support of my 7-year-old daughter’s violin playing. I have used Finale to create audio accompaniments for some of her tunes, transposed to other keys, created sight-reading exercises, simplified tunes, created 2nd violin parts for myself for her etudes, and so on… She has also used Finale to write tunes of her own and she has also used some of the Finale worksheets.

SY: Got any tips for people new to your plug-ins, or plug-ins in general?

JW: I’d suggest that you organize your Finale plug-in folders to suit your personal workflow. By default, the Finale plug-in folder appears here:

Macintosh: Mac HD > Library > Application Support > MakeMusic > Finale 2011 > Plug-ins
Windows: C:\Program Files\Finale 2011\Plug-ins

You can add, delete and rename the folders inside the Plug-ins folder any way you wish, and these changes determine what appears in your Plug-ins menu. It’s a great example of how you can easily customize Finale for your personal, specific use.

Some users think in terms of Finale’s various tools, while others think of separate working steps. However you think, organize the plug-ins you use into corresponding folders. The important thing is that the placement within the menus should make sense to you. Also, move any plug-ins you don’t use into a separate folder to remove visual clutter.

I’d also suggest watching the demo videos of the plug-ins on YouTube, as they contain many tips.

SY: Where would you suggest someone start if they’re exploring your site for the first time?

JW: Start by downloading a plug-in from the Downloads section. There are other useful files to be found in the Downloads section as well. I’d also point new users to the Finale reviews and Interviews.

I’d like to thank Jari for his insights and the excellent tip. Next week we’ll conclude our conversation with Jari where he’ll delve into more technical aspects of his work.

Please let us know how we’re doing, ask a question, or just say hello by clicking on “Comments” below.

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