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Indeed - I've never attempted to claim ownership of PMS, so I don't know where the credit to me in the above article has come from.

For the record, I did design the PMS music fonts (the RISC OS outline ones, that is; the PostScript fonts were done by Philip Hazel). I also produced a few of the support files and ran the source through Castle's C compiler to produce a 32-bit version of the final 26-bit release. But that's the extent of my contribution.

A few points of interest to prospective PMS users:

1. Rhapsody 4 can actually output files in PMS format. Although the results need a fair amount of work afterwards, it may be a preferable shortcut to the text-based input of music, especially if you want to play in via MIDI.

2. SharpEye (RISC OS version 1, rather than Windows version 2) - which is still available from me as a commercial product - also outputs in PMS format, so you can OCR music and then process the results with PMS. Again, as with Rhapsody, the results require work but may save time compared with manual input.

3. Unix users may like to know that a Unix version of PMS, now called PMW, is available from [link] - it's syntax-compatible (in the main) with PMS, though it lacks certain features (such as the nice, integrated front-end: PMW is just a command-line tool).

4. The KeyNote music fonts that were at one time supplied with Sibelius 7 are actually visually compatible versions of my PMS music fonts. I created them to be able to produce similar-looking output from Sibelius on the occasions when I needed to use it instead of my usual choice of PMS. (I don't know if Sibelius 7 still includes these fonts, but I still have them myself.)

5. The PostScript-capable version of PMS, which is the 32-bit version supplied, used to cost 500 quid. (The non-PostScript outline-fonts-only version was 150.) So the fact that it's now free represents a very good deal. :-) (PMW is also free.)

I've made a great deal of use of PMS in the past (and still use it occasionally), often for professional work. Whilst attention needs to be paid to its output, and it's a good idea to know what you're doing musically (it doesn't try to get all the layout right for you like Sibelius does), once you've mastered it it's exceptionally flexible, and capable of extremely impressive results. It's not really directly comparable with Sibelius because it's a very different kind of tool, and aimed at a different class of user, but actually it can achieve things with relative ease that are all but impossible with Sibelius. PMS is my favourite music typesetting tool.

As for future updates... as far as I'm concerned, the program is finished. Frankly, there's not a lot that it won't do, notationally speaking, and for the things that it can't cope with, a great deal of effort would be required to implement them. For 'standard' notation it's exceedingly capable. I'm personally not really of the opinion that it should be developed away from the capabilities of the newer PMW; at present, they're essentially the same thing for two different platforms, which is helpful.

As for the documentation, let's just be clear that the existing docs just fall a bit short in terms of the PDF quality; and the PDFs *do* display correctly on other platforms (such as on my Mac). The graphical shortcomings seem to be related to the RISC OS software, sadly (I've tried both !PDF and RiScript 5, and neither renders them correctly). There's nothing wrong with the way the documentation is actually written; indeed, Philip's PMS manual is one of the clearest and most well-written guides I've seen. It's just bbbiiiggg.

I agree that the documentation is lacking in terms of tutorials, though, and given my long-term use of the software (I first started using it seriously in about 1990) I could probably produce something useful on the subject myself, given the time and inclination. However, are there really enough people in the RISC OS market these days with an interest in typesetting music to make any such tutorial articles worthwhile? I personally rather doubt it (though anyone who disagrees is more than welcome to say so here). The thing about PMS is that, wonderful though it is in many ways, it's an engraving tool, and not something that encourages 'lightweight' use. People who just want to do quick musical arrangements or layouts without too much effort are probably better off using Sibelius.

 is a RISC OS UserRichardHallas on 14/5/07 5:21PM
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