To Upgrade or Not-  Plus Finale 2002 Tips

To Upgrade or Not  

Plus Finale 2002 Tips 

by Lee Monroe

I have always been a proponent of waiting before upgrading.  Particularly if you are using software from a company that: 

  • Upgrades often with no backward compatibility

  • Tends to use its retail customers as Beta testers

  • Has to provide several patches with each new issue

Beware of these points!  Particularly if you make a living with your software.  The devil you know is better than the devil you don't.  Even though you may not be happy with your current software at least you know that it is stable.  

I know from first hand experience the Finale 2000 bug that rendered some files useless and inoperable.  In my business it could cost me thousands of dollars and put a critical deadline in jeopardy.

Having said this, you don't want to be the type to put your head in the sand and not accept change.  These are the procedures I follow before upgrading to new software.

  • If at all possible, have multiple versions on your computer until you have worked out any potential bugs in the new versions.

  • Before committing, check out as many web sites or message boards as you can relating to the software in question.

  • Make a copy of a particularly difficult file you are currently working on and label each version, then run it through the paces with the new upgrade.

I can assure you that you will not uncover all the new little gems (both good & bad) an upgrade may hold for you, but please do your best to expose any potential weaknesses in the upgrade before you stumble on any nasty surprises the night before a recording session.

We basically commit, as a production company, to every other upgrade of Finale.  Finale 97 was good, Finale 98 was horrible with bugs (maybe not for the casual user but we found some doosies) - Finale 2000 is stable, while Finale 2001 made many changes (some that slowed down our process considerably).  Finale 2002 is an improvement in many areas and this will probably be my company's next major upgrade once we have worked with it for a while, say another 3 months.

Speed and reliability are critical to my business.  I must be able to depend on my product.   Proofing is such an important aspect to our work, that I could not imagine producing a session without a competent proofer.  Computers have made our jobs easier, allowed us to produce more work than in the past, and opened up opportunities all over the world.  However, our lack of understanding of the logic of computers along with software bugs can cause unforeseen problems with a file.


I believe if you are a professional, you must upgrade.  You will receive files from other professionals that are of the newer versions and therefore will need a competence with the new version in order to deal with them.  However, there is a difference with getting an upgrade to use for these purposes and actually committing the bulk of your production to a new version.   Following are a few points to consider: 

  • Don't change over your production unless the new version is an improvement over the old.  

  • Don't change over your production just because of a few new bells and whistles. 

  • Don't change over your production unless your skills are such to take advantage of the newer version.  If you are quite good with the old version then you may actually decrease your ability to produce unless you have the time to relearn (in some cases) the newer version.

  • Don't change over your production just because there is a new version.   Check out the upgrade, investigate it - don't blindly upgrade, you may regret it.

Finale 2002

Having said all of this, I do think that Finale 2002 is a fine improvement over Finale 2001.  Its Interface is becoming much more flexible and user friendly.  I like many of the new features.

There is an article by Jari Williamsson addressing many of the new Finale 2002 features.  This article "Finale 2002, A Review" is full of important information and should be read by us all.

Jari also hosts a great Finale site called "The Finale Productivity Site" that provides a ton of information about Finale and in particular 3rd party plugins.  This is a must site to bookmark.

Take care & good luck! Lee Monroe

Lee Monroe is the owner of Express Music Services.  He has been a fulltime copyist for 20 years and was strictly a hand copyist for the first 15.  You can check out his hand music font by following this link - LeeMusic.

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