Instruction manual - Pizzicato 3.6.2 EN040 - Revision of 2013/05/29





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The computer and its interface (1)

Subjects covered:

What is a computer? [Light] [Beginner] [Professional] [Notation] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro] [Drums and Percussion] [Guitar] [Choir] [Keyboard] [Soloist]

A computer is a machine which can very quickly execute a series of instructions that somebody gave it. It does not think by itself. It is limited to apply reasoning that a person (the programmer) thought and developed for it.

A computer program, also called a software, is a series of instructions and reasoning prepared to provide a service in a specific field. Pizzicato is a software enabling you to compose, to play musical scores and to provide you with a whole series of services related to music.

To be used, a software must be introduced into the computer. By starting the software, its instructions take control of the computer. The user can then direct the software and work with it to obtain results from it in the related field.

Unlike a computer, a software is not a physical thing or an object. It is a series of reasoning, methods and directives which will control the computer. It is information. When you buy a software, it is provided to you on one or more diskettes or CDs which are used as a support. The data on the disks constitute the instructions of the software. The software installation procedure simply consists in copying these data into the computer so that the computer can use them.

The hard disk of a computer is a permanent data medium, i.e. when you switch off the computer, information written on the hard disk is preserved. It is on the hard disk that the software is copied during the installation, so that it is once and for all in the computer. The capacity of a hard disk is indicated in Mega Bytes (MB) or Giga Bytes (GB). 1 MB corresponds to one million text characters, which is equivalent to more than 200 pages of text with 60 lines of 80 characters on each page . 1 GB equals 1000 MB. The smallest hard disks currently make tens of GB and go up to several hundreds of GB. 1 TB (Tera byte) corresponds to 1000 GB.

The random access memory of the computer is a data medium used during the execution of a program. A program needs a certain amount of random access memory to work correctly. This memory is called "RAM" ("Random Access Memory", which means that data can be reached at any time or place in the memory, randomly). The RAM of a computer is measured in MB. Its usual size goes from 1 GB to many GB. The random access memory is the working memory of the computer. When you switch off the computer, its content is lost. By creating a document of word processing, it is created in RAM. Before switching off the computer, the document must be written on the hard disk so that it is not lost. It happens this way for most software programs like word processing, drawing programs, etc.

Communicating with a computer [Light] [Beginner] [Professional] [Notation] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro] [Drums and Percussion] [Guitar] [Choir] [Keyboard] [Soloist]

You need a way to give your instructions to the computer. Similarly, when the program wants to tell you something or to show you the result of its actions, you must be able to perceive it.

The keyboard and the mouse let you control the computer. Thanks to these two elements you will direct the computer actions.

The screen helps your computer to show you the results of your work. It is used together with the mouse and the keyboard to allow a fast and effective communication between the user and the software. The software will also use the printer to give you the results on paper. In Pizzicato, the computer can also control musical external instruments enabling you to hear the sound of your work.

The elements helping you to communicate with the computer are called the user interface.

The screen and windows [Light] [Beginner] [Professional] [Notation] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro] [Drums and Percussion] [Guitar] [Choir] [Keyboard] [Soloist]

The screen of the computer is a working area. It is like a desk on which you can place documents that you can modify and classify.

As the screen is used to visualize your work, it is structured in distinct graphical elements that one can manipulate. Only a small number of these elements constitute the essence of the communication between the computer and the user. We thus propose you to study these elements in this lesson and the following.

From one computer to another and one program to another, the graphical aspect of these elements will vary. The design, the color, the thickness of lines, the styles of characters… personalize programs and computers.

The screen of the computer comprises rectangular graphical areas which are called windows. You can compare them with paper sheets that you place on a desk. Here are the various parts under Windows and Mac respectively (Please note that the graphic aspect may vary from one version to another of Mac or Windows, but the main principles stay the same):

On Mac OS X, the three boxes (close, reduce and zoom) are in the upper left corner of the window. The other elements are very similar.

What you see here constitutes one window. It is a graphical unit of which you can change the size and position. Each program creates its own window at startup. Often, with the launching of a program, the size of the created window occupies the full screen. When you use the program, it will create other windows according to what is needed. For example, if you open several documents in the same program, the following setup shows the two windows (representing the two documents), respectively on Windows and Mac:

On Windows, the two internal windows are called "child windows". They are always inside the main window (parent window). On Mac, each window appears independently. Note that the second window is located above the other. It is hiding a part of it. The analogy with paper sheets on a desk is still valid. When you place a paper on another paper, it is entirely visible and hiding part of the other.

When clicking in a window which is below another, you can bring it to the front, like this (respectively on Windows and Mac):

Now let us examine the elements present in a window.

Borders of the window

They delimit the area of the window compared to the remainder of the screen. When you launch Pizzicato, the main window occupies the full screen and the borders are not visible. When clicking in the restore box,

or on Mac (or a "+" sign on Mac OS X)

the window will have the aspect as above. On Windows, when placing the mouse on the borders, the cursor takes one of the following aspects:

While clicking and dragging on a border, you can increase or reduce the size of a window. The border follows the movements of the mouse until you release the mouse. When you execute this operation close to a corner, the corner moves while following the movements of the mouse and by moving with him the two borders. If you click in the middle of a border, halfway between two corners, only the border will move.

On Mac, the right bottom corner can be used in the same way to adjust the size of the window. Some windows can be moved by clicking and dragging the border.

Zoom boxes

To change the size of a window, you can also use the zoom boxes. There are three types of zoom boxes on PC (on Mac, two are represented by the same drawing).

or on Mac (or a "+" sign on Mac OS X)

Resize the window from its maximum size to its normal size or from its minimal size to its normal size.

or on Mac (or a "+" sign on Mac OS X)

Resize the window to its minimal size. Only a part of the title bar stays visible. On Mac OS X, the window disappear in the Dock (area below the screen).

or on Mac

Resize the window to its maximum size. If it is the main window of the program, it occupies the full screen. If it is a child window (on Windows only), it occupies the totality of the main parent window content.

Close box

The box or on Mac (a "x" sign on Mac OS X) makes it possible to close the window. On Windows, if it is the main window (in the first example, it is the higher box), the program quits. If it is an internal window, only this window is closed.

Title bar

The title bar is an area located just below the top border. You will find the title of the window in it. It often indicates the name of the document or the role of the window. When clicking and dragging the title bar, you move the window on the screen, without modifying its size. On Windows, when double-clicking the title bar, you resize the window from the maximum size to the normal size and vice versa.

On Windows, when a child window has its maximum size, its title bar combines with the title bar of the main window of the program. The title of the child window is then added between square brackets[ ] next to the title of the main window. The zoom and close boxes appear right below the boxes of the main window.

System menu

It is a menu set up and maintained by Windows and which makes it possible to execute the operations of moving, zooming and closing via menus instead of using the corresponding boxes.

Menu bar

Just below the title bar you will find the menu bar. It lets you execute actions related to the content of the window. We will see this below. On Mac, the menu bar is located in the higher part of the screen.

Tool bar

It is a graphic area giving quick access to current actions or options. The content vary from one program to another. A window may also exist without a tool bar.

Status bar

It is a graphic area with practical data, like the current page number, the cursor graphic position, help information,…

Contents of the window

Your document is displayed here (musical score, text of a letter, drawing, table…). It is the interaction area between the user and the contents of the document. The contents of a window vary from one program to another and Pizzicato has many different windows. We will have the occasion to explain them and to use them throughout this manual. For the moment, let us simply remember that a window visualizes an aspect of a document.

Scroll bars

As explained above, you can easily change the size of the window. What about its contents? The purpose of a window is to present the contents of a document to the user in a visual way. If the document is an enormous musical score, it will be impossible to see the full score inside the window. Thus we need a way to determine which part of the document will be visible on the screen.

This role is given to the horizontal and vertical scroll bars. We will see how to use them in the remainder of this manual. By handling them, you will be able to decide which part of your document will be the visible in the window. It is like looking at a remote landscape with binoculars. It is impossible for you to see all the landscape all at once. By moving your binoculars, you can see to the right, left, top or bottom. At any moment, you only see one part of the landscape.

So we reviewed the various elements making up a window. All the elements are not necessarily present in each window. Windows can exist with only a border and contents.

Menus [Light] [Beginner] [Professional] [Notation] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro] [Drums and Percussion] [Guitar] [Choir] [Keyboard] [Soloist]

The purpose of a menu is to let the user ask the program the execution of a task or an action. The higher part of the screen comprises a grayed bar with a series of written words on it. It is the main menu bar. In Pizzicato, it contains the following words:

The words which are in the menu bar are the titles of the menus. By clicking on a word, a list appears:

This list shows all the actions that you can execute. Usually, a menu gathers a series of actions from the same category. Here, they are actions relating to the windows.

Each line of this list is called an menu item. By clicking on one of the items displayed, the menu disappears and the associated action is executed.

This is the way to select a menu item. It is not necessary to release the mouse button between the two actions. You can click on the title of the menu and drag downwards to select the item. At this time release the button and the action is executed. It is an application of the click/drag operation of the mouse. Train yourself with some items of the Tools menu. Each time, a small window appears to display symbols. Close it by clicking on its close box.

It happens that some menu items are not always available, because some operations cannot be executed in all cases. Imagine that a menu item lets you close a window. If no window is present on the screen, it is not possible to close a window. The corresponding menu item is then disabled. In this case, it is either absent or drawn in gray. When you drag the cursor on a disabled item, it does not get contrasted and it is impossible to select it.

To separate menu items into subcategories, a line is often used.

It happens that a menu item contains several possible choices. In such a case, a small black arrow indicates on the right that it is a multiple choice item. By clicking this item, a secondary list appears that contains other items you can select. This makes it possible to build menus in tree structure,

A last important point is the shortcut. By observing the above examples, you could notice that some items have the "Ctrl+" text on their right, followed by a letter or a symbol of the keyboard (on Mac, symbol of the "Apple" key). This is a keyboard shortcut that lets you activate a menu item without using the mouse. Once you know the program and its shortcuts, it is faster than using the mouse. To use a shortcut, hold down the Ctrl key of the keyboard ("Apple" key on Mac), and press the shortcut letter or symbol on the keyboard.

Dialog boxes [Light] [Beginner] [Professional] [Notation] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro] [Drums and Percussion] [Guitar] [Choir] [Keyboard] [Soloist]

Dialog boxes are special windows. A dialog box lets the user define or select various options that influence the computer work. In a general way, it is an area of exclusive communication between the software and the user, hence its name, a dialog box.

It is an area of communication because it contains various elements which make it possible for the user to indicate his choice to the computer. In the other direction, the software can display useful information to the user through these elements. We will study these various elements of communication in the following lessons.

Most Pizzicato dialog boxes are exclusive, which means that when a dialog box is displayed on the screen, the user can do nothing else but using this dialog box. If other windows are located behind it, they are temporarily inaccessible, just as the menus are. To be able to use the remainder of the software again, the user must terminate this communication by closing the dialog box.

Most dialog boxes comprise 2 rectangular areas containing the words OK and Cancel. By clicking the OK area, the user can close the dialog box, validating the modifications and selected options. By clicking the Cancel area, the dialog box will also be closed, but the modifications made by the user in this dialog box will be cancelled, i.e. forgotten by the software.

Most dialog boxes can be moved like a window but their size cannot be modified. By clicking and dragging the title bar, you can move the dialog box. When a dialog box is displayed, if you try to click outside it, the computer will refuse your action because it is an exclusive dialog box and you do not have other choices than to terminate this dialog box before making something else.

In the Options menu, select the Transcription… item. The following dialog box appears (Windows & Mac):

You can move it. Now try to click on another menu or on the window which is behind it. It does not work. The dialog box contains various elements that we will further discuss in details. In the bottom right corner of this dialog, you can notice the Cancel and OK areas. Click in Cancel and the dialog box disappears.

Most dialog boxes appear following a menu item selection or an action executed in the contents of a window. Most of the time, dialog boxes help you consult or supplement information that will influence the work of the software.





Composition Light

Composition Pro

Drums and Percussion