There is currently a question regarding asking SE developers to implement Lilypond markup for our SE site.

I would suggest ABC Notation support instead of Lilypond because there is already an open-source ABCNotation to Javascript renderer available, abcjs, which would lower the effort that SE techs would have to make to add musical markup to our site.

It should be noted that I'm platform-agnostic. Whatever notation has a low enough barrier of entry for SE developers to quickly implement it for this SO is fine by me. I'd just like to get the alternatives out there.


Just some thoughts on this:

In principle, I agree with Meaningful Username that we should make our decision irrespective of potential implementation difficulties, unless of course SE comes back and definitively says what they can and can't do for us.

Not having done any research, I was skeptical that Lilypond integration was possible, but it turns out MediaWiki have supported it with the Score extension since April 2013. That's a proof of concept, at least, but there may be other concerns for implementation on SE. Wikipedia doesn't render markup in-browser, for example -- though that problem has been tackled elsewhere.

One great feature of the score extension is that it supports BOTH LilyPond and ABC notation. Not saying we necessarily should have that flexibility here, but it's something to consider.

Some other things to consider:

  • Does the syntax for either language present a steep learning curve? Discounting, of course, syntax that represents features not present in the other language.
  • Do we need to make a judgement about quality vs. ease of implementation? Would it be better to have something quick and dirty, but to have it NOW; or to wait for an objectively better option to go through the slow cooker and come out done right, but LATER? I don't think SE is likely to agree to implement one parser now and then another down the line. The implications of such a transition are also worrisome.

Personally, I have very little interest in ABC notation when compared with Lilypond. Lilypond effectively has feature parity with professional engraving programs like Sibelius and Finale, and in many cases outputs notation that is prettier than all of them. I can't speak to the syntax differences and difficulties within the overlapping features, but I can say that the more complete capabilities of Lilypond are a big incentive to me to learn it fully, should it be the one we decide to implement.

  • The concerns in the comments to @Meaningful are things to consider. I'm in favor of "now" rather than "someday" for some notation. We're not stuck with the first implementation we try, hopefully.
    – empty
    Oct 23 '14 at 15:22
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    @KevinJohnsrude: I think it's safe to assume that we will be stuck with the first implementation we try. "You got ABC, how do you motivate that we invest time on Lilypond?". But, hopefully we can have both through the wikipedia plug in. I think it's a big loss to only get ABC just to get something quick. Oct 23 '14 at 16:04

The technicalities should in my mind only be a deciding factor if there are considerable obstacles. Since Wikipedia has a Lilypond renderer, and this type of solution has not been disqualified by the developers, I do not think these obstacles exist.

It should then only be a question of which notation the community prefers. I prefer Lilypond over ABC, and this answer is intended as a "no" to the suggestion of ABC, and in favor of keeping Lilypond as the preferred notation.

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    On the other question, one of the answers points out that Lilypond requires a Scheme parser written in JavaScript. Unless Wikipedia's is open source or there is another option, I'd consider that to be a very considerable obstacle. I know nothing about the merits of either notation system, though.
    – user28
    Oct 22 '14 at 22:31
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    I had no idea Wikipedia knew lilypond. Can you provide some reference links on that?
    – NReilingh
    Oct 23 '14 at 2:10
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    Oh, here it is. Veeery interesting: mediawiki.org/wiki/Extension:Score
    – NReilingh
    Oct 23 '14 at 2:54

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