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MusicXML 3.1 Published as a W3C Community Group Report

Today is a major milestone for the W3C Music Notation Community Group. We have published our first W3C Community Group Final Report for MusicXML Version 3.1.

MusicXML 3.1 is the first MusicXML release since August 2011, and the first release by the W3C Music Notation Community Group. As you can see from our GitHub issue list for V3.1 milestone, we addressed 80 issues during the MusicXML 3.1 development process. When you remove issues that addressed bugs introduced during the beta test and issues involving the move to the W3C, MusicXML 3.1 resolved 65 substantive issues. They fall into 4 major categories:

  • 37 issues involved better support for the Standard Music Font Layout (SMuFL). These issues fell into 3 more categories:
    • Adding new elements and enumeration values to represent SMuFL symbols
    • Adding attributes and values to specify a particular SMuFL glyph in MusicXML extension elements
    • Adding the ability to combine text with arbitrary music symbols identified by a SMuFL glyph name
  • 16 issues involved documentation improvements.
  • 3 issues involved packaging:
    • The change to the .musicxml extension for uncompressed files
    • The new mimetype file in compressed .mxl files
    • New Uniform Type Identifiers for MusicXML files
  • 9 issues involved other fixes for appearance and semantics:
    • Adding height and width to images
    • Adding grace cue notes
    • Adding measure number display text
    • Adding id attributes to uniquely identify many MusicXML elements
    • Adding a combination of slash and regular notation within a single staff
    • Adding highest / lowest notes without displaying leger lines
    • Adding parentheses to accidental marks displayed above or below notes
    • Adding more polygon options for enclosures
    • Adding more playback information for lyrics

Many people have contributed to the MusicXML 3.1 release in addition to my work as editor. Daniel Spreadbury’s invention and advocacy of the SMuFL font standard provided the main impetus for this release. MusicXML needed to improve its SMuFL support in order to maintain its current level of interoperability. SMuFL also provided the technology needed to solve formerly difficult problems such as the mixture of text with arbitrary musical symbols.

Joe Berkovitz led the creation of the W3C Music Notation Community Group and moving responsibility for MusicXML and SMuFL to the new group. Joe’s work on the next-generation MNX format also freed MusicXML 3.1 to focus on shorter-term, tactical changes to improve interoperability between notation applications. Ivan Herman from the W3C helped get the community group up and running.

Many other W3C Music Notation Community Group members contributed to MusicXML 3.1. Jeremy Sawruk and Matthew Briggs checked in changes to the GitHub repository. James Sutton, Mogens Lundholm, Bo-Ching Jhan, Evan Brooks, and Matthew Briggs wrote up GitHub issues that were addressed in MusicXML 3.1. Martin Marris and Peter Trubinov suggested the idea behind one of MusicXML 3.1’s key features for adding SMuFL support. Mogens Lundholm suggested using the .musicxml extension for uncompressed MusicXML files. L. Peter Deutsch’s review improved the content of the Community Group Report. Hans Vereyken, Glenn Linderman, Richard Lanyon, Adrian Holovaty, Reinhold Hoffmann, Nicolas Froment, Jim DeLaHunt, Michael Cuthbert, and Eric Carraway contributed to the GitHub issue discussions. Many more members contributed to the discussions on the group mailing list.

We look forward to seeing more applications adopt the features of the MusicXML 3.1 format to improve the exchange of digital sheet music files between applications. We plan to release a SMuFL Community Group Report early next year, and to continue work on the next-generation MNX project. Thanks to everyone in the W3C Music Notation Community Group for their contributions to a productive 2017.

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