Tuesday, February 16, 2016

MobileSheets on the HP Pro Slate 12

After many years reading my sheet music off an iPad, I had gotten pretty comfortable in Forscore. There is nothing like it in the Windows store and only one app that comes close in the Google Play store for Android. Yes, there are several other apps designed for sheet music, but only one with proper annotation tools - MobileSheets.

In the interim, I used Xodo docs on the Surface Pro 3, and luckily that app is cross platform. I can use Xodo on the Pro Slate and it functions more or less the same as it does on the Surface. This makes for an easy transition and a nice back up plan. The biggest pro - pick up the pen and write. 

But I wanted to give MobileSheets a proper look. I've messed with it on various devices here and there, trying to keep tabs on things, but I've never been able to really follow through with it. But I'm using it tonight, so I can finally get an idea of how it works beyond the surface level poking around I've done so far.

Why am I willing to dive into unfamiliar software like this at a rehearsal? Two reasons mainly:
1. I have Xodo as a backup. I've performed from Xodo on the Surface before and can switch over at any point to something I know how to make work. Also, it's rehearsal. There will be paper binders if there's a catastrophic failure and I really need something to fall back on.
2. I've managed a few practice sessions with it, so I have a basic handle on the two things that matter - navigation and annotation.

I'm bummed that annotation requires entering a specific mode. I've got it set up for a two finger tap and for better or worse, MobileSheets has a pretty cluttered interface, which at least than means edit mode is only a single tap away. It comes up quickly enough (much more quickly than my aging 3rd gen iPad could enter edit mode in Forscore), so I think it'll be enough.

Why am I trying MobileSheets when I know Xodo works? MobileSheets is an app with a dedicated music reading focus, so unlike a general PDF reader, it supports setlists and other organizational tools that will prove very helpful when it comes time to turn an alphabetical binder into a show order set. It also has tools like a metronome and media playback.

But the best thing about MobileSheets? It can crop PDFs on import. And it does a pretty decent job of it. I adjusted a few of the crops, but in general, you can let it do its thing and have a file that's an even better fit for your screen that just opening it in a PDF reader. Unfortunately, that's the only PDF manipulation it handles well. I used Xodo to create a version with all the blank pages removed as MobileSheets has a quirky work around to the fact that it can't delete pages that I'm not a fan of.

I've paired my AirTurn and verified that it'll turn in both Xodo and MobileSheets.

I'm not worried about file organization too much right now because I can chop up the part and reorder the turns later with annotations intact.

So, I'll give it a go tonight. I'll be reading on the HP Pro Slate 12 using MobileSheets and my AirTurn BT-105. 

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