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Switching from Finale to Sibelius -- advice?

Hi, folks!
I'm seriously contemplating moving from Finale to Sibelius.  
A little background: I made my living working in software development for 32 years, so I'm usually not intimidated by new software.  I've been using Finale since 2003, have kept up with the nearly annual upgrades except for the last one (I'm still on the 2010 version).  I keep hoping Finale will fix some of the odd idiosyncracies dealing with layout/etc., but so far, they haven't.  I can usually get things the way I want them, but it takes a LOT of "fiddling."  So, I'm exploring switching over to Sibelius, which, I understand, is far more cooperative.
So --- Has anyone here made this switch?  How difficult is it?  How good is the user guide (I assume it's online somewhere)?  How often are new "upgrades" released, and how much do they cost (on average)?  I have hundreds of Finale files that will need to be converted; how difficult is this process?
Thanks for any advice you can offer ...
Lana Mountford
Replies (19): Threaded | Chronological
on December 14, 2012 12:42pm
It is precisely in layout, etc. that Finale is superior to Sibelius.  I have regular contact with both programs via my composition students.  Sibelius' future is also in doubt with the recent closure of their UK offices.
Entering music is more intuitive in Sibelius, but after that, the layout defaults and tools are inferior.
on December 14, 2012 3:40pm

I would seriously reconsider switching, as Sibelius probably will not continue to be around much longer.
on December 14, 2012 4:32pm
Sibelius is no longer being supported.  Stay with Finale.  I got Sibelius three years ago to play with, and it has as many idiosyncracies as Finale - just different ones.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on December 14, 2012 8:17pm
"Dear Santa,
  i know I've been good and all, but would you bring me Finale instead of Sibelius?  Seems I made a mistake when I sent you my letter.  "
You guys just kept me from spending a lot of money on a dead end product.  Thanks!
Applauded by an audience of 1
on December 14, 2012 10:53pm
You guys just kept me from spending a lot of money on a dead end product.  Thanks!
Whoa horsey - who told you that? The "in doubt" etc. above is justified and a valid point to bring forward considering the recent events - but I suggest being careful about declaring any product "dead end" unless that is actually the case.
Does Sibelius have a future? Avid says, for sure…
Daniel Léo Simpson
San Francisco   
on December 15, 2012 8:25am
I appreciate when members of this community keep me from screwing up.  Thanks Daniel for giving us the other side of this.  (Note to self: don't rely on one article for information).  I am seriously about to order one or the other, I too would like a few more pros and cons.  I used Finale since it was Grand Finale -and took a minute and a half to redraw every single edit on my Mac Plus- until Sibelius 4 came out.  I never really got into the Sibelius interface, Finale seemed more intuitive for me, and by intuitive I mean when I couldn't remember how to do something, it was easy to find out how.  
Now I really don't know which to buy.
on December 15, 2012 9:28am
Like nearly everyone else, I started with Finale.  After several years, my brilliant computer teacher urged me to switch to Sibelius, so I did.  NEVER shall I return to Finale!  If you decide upon going to Sibelius, purchase Sibelius 6.  It is far better, than Sibelius 7; besides it may save you money.
on December 15, 2012 11:29am
The problem is:
I've been working on Finale since 1991.
What about the
"trasncription"  of all my  files
(especially concerning   lyrics)
(and especially concerning  page organization
Does it fit   easily and  immediatly,
files entirely recognized and transferred?
Antoine DESSEN,
Choral Net member
on December 15, 2012 11:43am
In your case, Antoine, I'd say don't switch.  You can export Finale files to Music XML and them import them that way into Sibelius, but that sounds like it'd be far more trouble than it's worth for you.
Each program has its strengths and weaknesses, to be sure, and I know of many fine engravers who are proficient in both.  Many of them say the same thing.  I'd again say that for the needs of the average composer just beginning to wade into notation-program waters, Sibelius is much easier to learn to use than Finale and produces higher-quality engraving without much effort.  But if you are an established user of Finale and need to work with lots of older Finale files, I don't see the sense in switching.
Joe Gregorio
on December 15, 2012 9:47am
Unless you need to do a whole lot of complex notation, I'd strongly recommend Sibelius.  It is easier to use right out of the box, and produces better-looking engraving with less effort.  Unless you're accustomed to earlier versions of Sibelius (i.e. 5 and earlier), I'd offer an opposing view to Walli's advice and recommend you get the most recent version (7).  Version 7 made a lot of changes to the interface that took long-time users a while to grow accustomed to (and I include myself there).  However, in my view, most of those changes weren't for the worse.  I'm not sure what there would be to gain by locking yourself into an earlier version of a program -- it's moving in a certain direction, and if you are going to invest in Sibelius, you'll want to keep up.
There *is* the whole discussion of whether you should invest in Sibelius at all, given all the garbage that's been going on at Avid lately -- they fired the UK development team and now plan to have future development done by eastern European (read: cheaper) workers.  This decision sparked a great outcry from the Sibelius user base.  I did hear that those fired developers have been hired by another software company to develop a new notation program (smart company!) so there may be another competitor on the field in a few years.  I do feel conflicted about continuing to use Sibelius, but for now, I stay with it because for my needs (choral, chamber, solo, orchestral, and no wacky notation but enough flexibility to let me do pretty much anything I need to), it is far superior to Finale.
Joe Gregorio
on December 15, 2012 12:39pm
Hi Lana/Jack,
I tried to post a detailed reply to you yesterday, but somehow lost it on my iPad! In the meantime, Joseph has expressed exactly what I wanted to say.
I started off with Finale a number of years ago, but was not very happy with it. I'm not a 'techie' although reasonably computer literate.  I switched to Sibelius, which I have found to be a brilliant programme, geared for the musician rather than the technical wizard.  It's much more intuitive than Finale in my opinion, although like any such programme will become more and more useful the more you get into it.
There is also a fantastic community of Sibelius users, who are ready and willing to help out with any technical queries or difficulties via the Sibelius forum.  We were all extremely worried (and many of us furious) at the decision of Avid, who now own Sibelius, to get rid of the development team and close down the main UK offices, despite vociferous protests from the Sibelius community. To be honest the future is somewhat uncertain, and it may be that that team will eventually come up with something as good as or better than Sibelius. But for my money, Sibelius is the best music notation software on the market at the moment.  I also agree with Joseph that the latest upgrade (sib.7) is the one to go for, even though some of us had our doubts when it was introduced, as it was so different from the previous version.
It may be worth checking whether there are any special deals available at the moment if you do decide to switch - and if you're involved in education you should be able to get a good discount.
Hope that helps!
on December 16, 2012 3:35am
I'm a Finale user, and have found it to be intuitive and excellent most of the time - I can get some fine-grained control that I wasn't able to find with Sibelius (though there are a few features that I really wish they'd implement, like the ability to use a background for the piece - e.g. one with a a copyright watermark on it - or printing/text in colour, or freehand drawing on the score - does Sibelius have these?). I also had excellent support from the official forum, including a solution to a very annoying problem I'd had, and a promise that the programmers would be consulted about fixing it in the next release - that's no longer an option with Sibelius!
on December 16, 2012 9:09am
Applauded by an audience of 1
on January 21, 2013 10:28pm
Lana, don't know if you've made the decision to make the switch yet or not, but it seems that most of the replies haven't addressed your specific questions. Maybe someone will eventually.
It seems to me that there is a demo version that you can try out. At least I did once. My take? As a Finale user since 1990, after trying Sibelius out, I am left perplexed as to how many say it is more intuitive. So I think it really just boils down to how one thinks. Maybe much akin to some people like Macs, some like PCs. Sort of. For me, I thought that Sibelius was counter-intuitive. I think it is great that there is competition and that there are options for everyone out there. I just would suggest you give it a spin if you can before purchasing and making a big switch.
on January 22, 2013 12:08pm
Thanks, Brad -- and to everyone who responded here.
I decided to stick with Finale for now -- and will go ahead and get the version upgrade.  I think, given the recent events re: Sibelius and its developers, I need to wait and see what shakes out. I'm familiar with Finale, I can (usually) get it to do what I want with some tweaking, and although it can be infuriating at times, it seems to do what I need reasonably well.  Then there are the hundreds of files that I would need to convert.  
Thanks again ...
Lana Mountford
on January 22, 2013 2:59pm
Lana, you may also want to check out these awesome resources for Finale (plugins, secrets, etc.): (You can subscribe to his tips by email or social network. And this is for Finale AND Sibelius users.) (For great tips, downloads, plugins, reviews.) (NOT MakeMusic's forums but another one.)
Hope that these resources will be of value to you.
Applauded by an audience of 2
on January 22, 2013 9:10pm
  Thanks for posting the links.  I just bought Finale and will start using it soon.  Now to find where all my old files are so I can put something up in the showcase!
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