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SVG and musicXML

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SVG and musicXML

Postby Ben Newman » Mon Aug 19, 2002 1:13 pm

I am new to musicXML but am interested in its possibilities. In particular I am interested in trying to create a parser to convert the format into SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics).

The idea would be to produce an XSLT which could take a musicXML file and convert this to SVG. Twinned with something like the Batik engine from Apache, this could produce PDF scores from a musicXML source.

Before attempting such a task I would like to know if anybody else is working on it, and if not, if they would be.

I look forward to seeing feedback in this thread or to receiving email direct from anybody who is interested in pursuing this idea further.

Ben.
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RE: SVG and musicXML

Postby Paul Mindrup » Mon Aug 19, 2002 1:43 pm

Yes, I'm interested in this and have just started looking into it.

About a month ago, I mentioned this to Michael Good, who put me in touch with a Brian Grainger, who was also working on it. His reply was:

I'll try to summarize where I'm at with my MusicXML-->SVG converter.

To be quite honest, I haven't done anything with it for over a month now. Not for lack of interest, but because I've run into a major problem which I didn't foresee at the outset. And, to my surprise, the problem isn't technical as I initially assumed my problems would be, but legal.

I've been able to map the structural elements of MusicXML to their SVG equivalents without too much difficulty. The problem is now the graphical elements and the musical content, or more precisely the right to use specific fonts and the method for carrying through the copyrights of the composer/publisher/distributor/etc.

On the font issue, there is some hope, in that Project XEMO is attempting to create a public domain font set which complies with Unicode 3.1. Since this project is not yet completed, there is no font set which I can use to correctly render the MusicXML content. While it would be possible to use a limited font set and only display certain elements, I don't feel that this is the correct approach. I'm not interested in putting out a half-baked solution.

On the content issue, the problem of digital rights management (DRM) is front and center. MusicXML has only rudimentary elements for the indication of copyright and authorship. This is not intended as a criticism of Michael's work, as he has I'm sure spent untold hours getting MusicXML to where it is today. DRM is a huge issue for interactive content, and there are currently no standards in place. There have been a couple of proposals to MPEG which show promise, but it's a work-in-progress.

I guess the bottom line is that MusicXML and derivative works such as my SVG converter are ahead of the curve. Until some standards emerge in the area of fonts and DRM, I've put things on hold. While it's nice to be at the leading edge, sometimes it's possible to stumble into uncharted territory. If Project XEMO is able to produce a font set, and a standard emerges on DRM, I'd be foolish not to complete the converter, as it would have wide application.

Regards, Brian


It seemed to me that if Brian is interested in these proprietary issues, then he must have a commercial application in mind. In my case, I just wanted something for my own use, so I could just use fonts that I already have, and I wouldn't have to worry about copyright issues. I've started playing around with it, but I'm kind of learning XML, XSL, and SVG as I go along.

My current problem is that my TrueType music fonts are not showing up correctly in the Adobe SVG viewer, so I've got some kind of encoding problem to work out.



Paul Mindrup



Ben Newman wrote:I am new to musicXML but am interested in its possibilities. In particular I am interested in trying to create a parser to convert the format into SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics).

The idea would be to produce an XSLT which could take a musicXML file and convert this to SVG. Twinned with something like the Batik engine from Apache, this could produce PDF scores from a musicXML source.

Before attempting such a task I would like to know if anybody else is working on it, and if not, if they would be.

I look forward to seeing feedback in this thread or to receiving email direct from anybody who is interested in pursuing this idea further.

Ben.
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Re: SVG and musicXML

Postby Brian Grainger » Mon Aug 19, 2002 4:47 pm

Ben Newman wrote:Before attempting such a task I would like to know if anybody else is working on it, and if not, if they would be.

I was working on it, and you've seen the summary of my statement about why I stopped working on it. Rendering to PDF is certainly feasible if the font issue can be overcome, but how many people would use it is an open question.

The basic problem in my opinion is that the music desktop publishing industry is a duopoly. You have either Finale or Sibelius, with a handful of smaller programs in the 'other' category. Neither Coda nor Sibelius seem to get too excited about poaching on the other's turf, so you have a cosy little arrangement all around.

A public domain music publishing project, to be successful, is going to have to wean people away from the duopoly, and that will only happen if the cost ($, effort, chance of failure, time) is minimal. Project XEMO is seeking funding to develop a public domain music font but, flog me if I'm wrong, I believe the response to date has been somewhat less than overwhelming.

If you're still interested after my negative comments, I have to confess that I still want to develop a working SVG renderer. It was my ultimate intention to package it as a web service, free for personal or academic research use (not a freebie for university music departments however). A fat client program probably isn't feasible given the amount of supporting software needed, ie-XML parser, XSLT engine, FO processor.

If there is some way that we could collaborate to develop a Unicode 3.1 music font without spending the next year doing it, I'm certainly interested. There already is the MusiTone font which could be used as a starting point, and the folks at Project XEMO may be able to give us some pointers. Let me know, would you. Maybe we can yet get this thing to fly.

Regards, Brian
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RE: SVG and musicXML

Postby Michael Good » Tue Aug 20, 2002 12:24 am

Hi Ben,

Well, I think you've heard from all the people that I know of who are looking at an SVG renderer for MusicXML.

We will be investigating DRM issues for MusicXML soon. It's a high priority issue for the publishing side of our business. There's lots of DRM and security work going on within the XML world. We need some concentrated time to sort out what's going on and how it best applies to MusicXML.

I hope that people can find ways to keep moving on the SVG projects even in the absence of a public domain font. With Finale Notepad available for free on both Windows and Mac platforms, maybe you could use Maestro or another basic Finale font as a starting point. You could not redistribute the font, but you could point people to the download for Finale Notepad. Perhaps the same thing could be done for a Sibelius font with the Scorch viewer. (I have not checked the license agreements for these products regarding this type of font use.)

Best regards, Michael
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MakeMusic, Inc.
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RE: SVG and musicXML

Postby Ben Newman » Tue Aug 20, 2002 1:45 am

Thank you all for your feedback.

I have to say that I never even thought of the issues regarding DRM so look forward to seeing what will happen in this area. Equally I had not thought about the issue of fonts, partly because I wasn't necessarily thinking of working in this way.

I understand that fonts will produce a far smaller SVG output. However, if they are going to slow down the process due to legal reasons, then another possibility would be to define lots of symbols in SVG. If this was a standard include file then people could refer to the relevant <symbol> in their SVG file.

The advantage of such a method would be that it would be very easy for people to extend the standard symbol library in order to cope with difficult notation schemes. The main library could be implemented as a standard reference point and then extended from there. The other determining factor behind this decision is to produce a solution that can be extended to non- western classical music and is not wholly bound in the usual 5 line stave with standard note-heads scenario.

I studied music at Uni a few years ago although I now work as a developer. At the time Finale was on the market, and very early versions of Sibelius were coming out. However there was another package that we used there called Lime which, at the time was I believe freeware, although it might now be shareware. The musical fonts that it included are called "Marl" and "Tufa" and these might be one option for people looking at using fonts. I have not emailed the authors yet to ask them, but for those people who are interested, the software is available here at www.cerlsoundgroup.org

Finally, I should say that I envisage producing a parser in much the same way as Paul Mindrup ... namely as a non commercial project. The idea would be to produce a set of XSLs and SVG libraries that are freely available for people to download. As a singer sites like www.cpdl.org interest me. This has a "CPDL Licensing" link which is based on the GPL-GBU license. Without being a lawyer, I wonder if such a license would help resolve the DRM issues mentioned by other people.

I look forward to seeing whether people reckon if it is better to go with fonts or SVG symbols in notation and to seeing how the DRM question resolves itself.

Ben.
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RE: SVG and musicXML

Postby Brian Grainger » Tue Aug 20, 2002 7:09 pm

Ben Newman wrote:I understand that fonts will produce a far smaller SVG output. However, if they are going to slow down the process due to legal reasons, then another possibility would be to define lots of symbols in SVG. If this was a standard include file then people could refer to the relevant <symbol> in their SVG file.

Fonts don't actually change the SVG file size at all if the font is required to be embedded within the SVG file as a DEF element. If the font is installed on the client operating system, then it does reduce the file size.

Using symbols instead of fonts really only changes how the SVG rendering engine deals with the x/y coordinates. The path definition for the actual glyph is identical whether it's embedded within a <symbol> or a <font>. Symbols are rendered with x=0 at the left side of the screen, and y=0 at the top of the screen. Increasing x moves toward the right, and increasing y moves toward the bottom. Fonts are rendered relative to the coordinate system of the containing <text> element, with x=0 at the start of the <text> element, which is either left or right depending on the directionality of the lhe <text> element, and y=0 which is the baseline of the <text> element with y increasing from bottom to top.

Ben Newman wrote:factor behind this decision is to produce a solution that can be extended to non- western classical music and is not wholly bound in the usual 5 line stave with standard note-heads scenario.

There are defined Unicode glyphs for Gregorian and Byzantine music elements, none that I'm aware of for Asian music, but in any event I agree that non-western elements are important.

Ben Newman wrote:Finally, I should say that I envisage producing a parser in much the same way as Paul Mindrup ... namely as a non commercial project. The idea would be to produce a set of XSLs and SVG libraries that are freely available for people to download. As a singer sites like www.cpdl.org interest me. This has a "CPDL Licensing" link which is based on the GPL-GBU license. Without being a lawyer, I wonder if such a license would help resolve the DRM issues mentioned by other people.

I can certainly see the value of a non-commercial system for non-commercial use, but I really am of the belief that if someone is making money from someone else's effort, that other person is entitled to ask for some form of payment. I'm not saying that they must ask for the payment, only that the licensing terms under which they make their work available permits them to ask for payment. I will say right now that I am not at all interested in slaving away days, nights, and weekends free gratis so that someone else has an easier time making money. The admiration of my peers for a job well done might bring satisfaction, but unfortunately satisfaction does not put bread on the table.

Regards, Brian
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Re: SVG and musicXML

Postby Paul Mindrup » Wed Aug 21, 2002 12:46 am

I can't fault your point of view. If someone can produce a viable MusicXML->SVG converter, he or she deserves to be paid for doing so. Personally, I would happily pay for such a product. In the absence of one, I may try to write my own. Although I write code for a living, my interest in XML, XSL, SVG, MusicXML, and all computer-aided things musical is strictly as a hobby. It's as much for the fun of doing it as for the fun of using the finished product. It also enables me to learn technology that I may someday be paid to apply. But it's obviously a quantum leap from A) writing something that will work on my system, with my fonts, to my satisfaction, to B) writing a commercial bulletproof product that will satisfy all users, and to provide technical support for that product. Of course, hats off to anyone who can pull this off.

Now (dangerously off-topic, but we *are* talking about using SVG w/ MusicXML)...

Can you guys tell me why I can't seem to use my Finale music fonts with SVG? They're installed on my system, and all other fonts on my systems seem to appear fine in the Adobe SVG viewer. But all characters of the Jazz Font or Maestro appear as squares - the kind you get when there's no glyph for the character you input. I realize these are not Unicode fonts, but I've tried using ttf2svg to create a def section for my .svg file, but to no avail. Do I need to somehow convert these to a unicode format?

Thanks in advance...



Paul Mindrup
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Re: SVG and musicXML

Postby Ben Newman » Wed Aug 21, 2002 3:27 am

Paul Mindrup wrote:Can you guys tell me why I can't seem to use my Finale music fonts with SVG? They're installed on my system, and all other fonts on my systems seem to appear fine in the Adobe SVG viewer. But all characters of the Jazz Font or Maestro appear as squares - the kind you get when there's no glyph for the character you input. I realize these are not Unicode fonts, but I've tried using ttf2svg to create a def section for my .svg file, but to no avail. Do I need to somehow convert these to a unicode format?

I've just downloaded Finale Notepad and tried to use the Maestro font. I see the issue that you have. First I tried using the SVG converter from www.steadystate.com (which I think is where the converter in the Batik project came from). This did not work. However, I then tried using WebDraw from www.jasc.com. You can download this and have a 45 day free trial. Typing text in using the Maestro font still appeared incorrectly
(in my case as a sans-serif font). However, persevere since, when you select that text and choose "Convert to Path" from the "Object" menu then the software converts it ok.

For example, typing in a "Q" produces the following path for a crotchet:

<path fill="#000000"
d="M0.216 -3.12 C0.52 -3.984 1.14 -4.712 2.076 -5.304 C3.012 -5.896 3.984 -6.184 4.992
-6.168 C5.808 -6.168 6.464 -5.96 6.96 -5.544 C7.456 -5.128 7.704 -4.6 7.704
-3.96 C7.704 -3.656 7.64 -3.352 7.512 -3.048 C7.208 -2.184 6.584 -1.456 5.64
-0.864 C4.696 -0.272 3.72 0.024 2.712 0.024 C1.72 0.008 0.976 -0.304 0.48
-0.912 L0.48 18.168 L0.024 18.168 L0.024 -2.232 C0.024 -2.52 0.088 -2.816
0.216 -3.12 z"/>

You might find the link here useful for the character map of the Maestro font:

http://members.cox.net/wardbaxter/education/Keycaps%20-%20Maestro.pdf

I hope this helps.

Ben.
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Re: SVG and musicXML

Postby Brian Grainger » Wed Aug 21, 2002 6:08 am

Paul Mindrup wrote:Can you guys tell me why I can't seem to use my Finale music fonts with SVG? They're installed on my system, and all other fonts on my systems seem to appear fine in the Adobe SVG viewer. But all characters of the Jazz Font or Maestro appear as squares - the kind you get when there's no glyph for the character you input. I realize these are not Unicode fonts, but I've tried using ttf2svg to create a def section for my .svg file, but to no avail. Do I need to somehow convert these to a unicode format?

What encoding is your system using? If you're using the wrong encoding you'll get that problem.

Regards, Brian
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RE: SVG and musicXML

Postby Paul Mindrup » Wed Aug 21, 2002 2:39 pm

Thanks for your help. I had tried the Batik converter, which, as you said, doesn't work. I was able to duplicate your success with WebDraw
(a very interesting program) - but I hate to think this is necessary - it added massive amounts of text to my .SVG file when I just used one character.


Paul


Ben Newman wrote:
Paul Mindrup wrote:Can you guys tell me why I can't seem to use my Finale music fonts with SVG? They're installed on my system, and all other fonts on my systems seem to appear fine in the Adobe SVG viewer. But all characters of the Jazz Font or Maestro appear as squares - the kind you get when there's no glyph for the character you input. I realize these are not Unicode fonts, but I've tried using ttf2svg to create a def section for my .svg file, but to no avail. Do I need to somehow convert these to a unicode format?

I've just downloaded Finale Notepad and tried to use the Maestro font. I see the issue that you have. First I tried using the SVG converter from www.steadystate.com (which I think is where the converter in the Batik project came from). This did not work. However, I then tried using WebDraw from www.jasc.com. You can download this and have a 45 day free trial. Typing text in using the Maestro font still appeared incorrectly (in my case as a sans-serif font). However, persevere since, when you select that text and choose "Convert to Path" from the "Object" menu then the software converts it ok.

For example, typing in a "Q" produces the following path for a crotchet:

<path fill="#000000"
d="M0.216 -3.12 C0.52 -3.984 1.14 -4.712 2.076 -5.304 C3.012 -5.896 3.984 -6.184 4.992
-6.168 C5.808 -6.168 6.464 -5.96 6.96 -5.544 C7.456 -5.128 7.704 -4.6 7.704
-3.96 C7.704 -3.656 7.64 -3.352 7.512 -3.048 C7.208 -2.184 6.584 -1.456 5.64
-0.864 C4.696 -0.272 3.72 0.024 2.712 0.024 C1.72 0.008 0.976 -0.304 0.48
-0.912 L0.48 18.168 L0.024 18.168 L0.024 -2.232 C0.024 -2.52 0.088 -2.816
0.216 -3.12 z"/>

You might find the link here useful for the character map of the Maestro font:


http://members.cox.net/wardbaxter/education/Keycaps%20-%20Maestro.pdf

I hope this helps.

Ben.
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