A possible retrograde thing ...

This doesn’t come from me. It comes from another author I ran into at the Edinburgh Book Festival: a serious heavyweight bestselling dude.

I will confess that I found the transition from Scriv 1.5.x to Scriv 2 on OSX was a bit of culture shock. I’d just about wrapped my head around 1.x when a deluge of new features appeared; it’s taken me about a year to start using many of them. This author had just been getting serious about Scriv when 2.0 came out. He’s actually stopped using it – has soured on it – because in his view the additional features of Scriv 2 impede his ability to get his work done: rather than being useful to him, it’s turned into bloat.

I’m not inclined to write him off, because he’s a hardcore geek – he reputedly used to write novels in Emacs and roll huge lisp macros to process them into LaTeX. I believe his angle is that, from a getting things done perspective, sometimes less is more; I suspect he’s afraid that a long-term commitment to Scrivener implies a long-term commitment to a program that’s going to periodically dump a ton of new and unwanted features on him that don’t improve his productivity and get in the way.

I know many of us call for additional functionality all the time. But would it be possible to provide an ‘off’ switch? Or a ‘training wheels’ mode? Or even just to continue to sell Scriv 1.5 as a legacy product? (Yes, I am aware that maintaining two versions means huge bugfixing and file compatibility headaches …)

May I say that Mr. HBD is a decidedly minor trend?
But he has a right to go back to WordPerfect 4.2, if that’s his thing.

There are always people who, for many reasons, just hate change.
Which is sad, because it’s the most inevitable condition in life.
At base, it’s a resistance to learning. I won’t call it lazy, but…

I can barely remember what 1.5 was like, but 2 has definitely been better.
Every day I discover something new about it that makes my work easier.
So, bring on version 3, 4, 5; the more the merrier. :open_mouth:

I think your friend may be remembering 1.5 a little over-nostaligically because, in fact, Scrivener 2.0 simplified a lot. In Scrivener 1.x, scrivenings mode was entirely separate to the corkboard and outliner - you couldn’t just switch between them. Instead, you had to select the documents you wanted in scrivenings, then click the button. At that point, the outliner and corkboard wouldn’t be available until you clicked on a folder to get out of scrivenings mode (the outliner and corkboard could only show folder contents and not multiple documents as they can in 2.0). The way all these main modes interacted (or didn’t) had many users scratching their heads, and I tried many solutions before reworking the flow of the interface for 2.0 - making it much easier to use by having all the main modes available in a single capsule in the toolbar.

If you look at all the features that have been added, too, you will see that they add very little extra interface. Features are tucked away so that those who don’t need them can simply ignore them. 2.x is much easier to pick up and start using than 1.x ever was, and provides templates and Compile settings where 1.x users had to work it out for themselves. True, 1.x’s Compile was easier to use because it had fewer options, but this limited what sorts of documents users could create and necessitated an external word processor to tidy up almost every export. (And 1.x’s Compile wouldn’t have allowed for e-book export and customisation, which has been a big selling point for Scrivener over the past few years.)

Also, if you look at the development of 2.x, you will see that we have been striving to make things easier and cleaner as we go. If you look at the 2.5 beta in the Beta Testing forum, for instance, you will see that a number of settings have been consolidated into a “Project Settings” window, reducing the clutter in the menus and making things easier to find, and the Preferences have been completely overhauled to make them easier to navigate. We also added a simplified pane to Compile with a 2.x update, and 2.5 makes that a little simpler still.

So I would argue that all along Scrivener has been moving towards getting easier to use, but without sacrificing features. Most features added have been refinements to existing features, and I’ve always resisted adding anything that doesn’t belong. While there will always be those who don’t like the changes that appear in applications (and I speak as someone grumbling at Xcode 5 at the moment), what we have seen is that since Scrivener 2.0 was released, it has been taken up by more and more authors, and we now have more professional authors using it than ever before.

I’m reminded of something a Microsoft developer once said about Word: she said that every day Microsoft received emails telling them that they should just make a new version of Word 5.1, because Word was too cluttered. They should strip out all of the features except for what 5.1 had, because that was easy to use. Oh, but they should just keep this one feature from Word 2008 that was essential to this particular user. Only when they added up all the single features each emailer wanted them to keep, they ended up back at Word 2008…

I’d also add that I’m not convinced by this recent so-called “KISS” culture in software - the idea that you should just be able to pick up a piece of software and start using it without referring to any training materials, and if you can’t then it must be poorly designed or “bloated”. I like to imagine the proponents of this view when they first tried to learn to drive: “Wing mirrors and a rear view mirror - and I have to remember both? Bloat! Three pedals! Let me out!” No one can use Photoshop without a little learning, and no one uses all of its features, but I don’t think anyone would say that it is bloated - I’ve never felt overwhelmed by it just because I have never once used the “Apply Data Set” feature or half of the filters.

Scrivener takes a little learning to get the most out of it, but I like to think - and fortunately feedback overwhelmingly supports this - that most users find it worth the initial effort. To stretch the driving simile further, I think that good software isn’t about keeping it so simple that no learning is necessary, but rather good software should get out of your way once you have got the initial learning out of the way. So I try to put my effort into identifying areas of resistance that catch users out even after they mostly know their way around, rather than into dumbing it down so much that it doesn’t do the things I want it to do.

So a definite no to continuing to sell 1.5 - that code base is nearly four years old and doesn’t even work properly on Lion. I find it slightly embarrassing next to Scrivener 2.x. And I also have no plans for an “off” switch - I’m not even sure how that would work, given how interconnected everything is. If it hid half of the menu items, then some of them are bound to be those a particular new user wants. And I’m already working to make the Preferences easier to navigate.

We can’t please everybody, and I’m sorry to lose a user in your big-hitter friend, but for every user we upset because they find Scrivener too complicated, we upset another by telling them we won’t add a timeline or mind map to the app.

All the best,

That just seems really odd to me. I can see that the compile options have changed significantly, even after 2.0 came out, but besides that (and it’s a biggie) there’s nothing I can recall being able to do in Scriv 1 that you can’t continue to do in Scriv 2. Inline annotations and footnotes are still there. Synopsis, Project & Document notes, Scrivenings view (changed, but very easy to get to)…

My wife is now using Scrivener for her very occasional writing projects. I just told her about snapshots the other day. She didn’t know about them, said they sounded neat, and then shrugged and kept typing. The presence of unneeded features doesn’t interfere with the small subset of features she does use.

I think it’s telling that he used to use Emacs. Old school Unix and Linux types (I count myself among them), will rail against programs that once could fit on a floppy disk, but now require almost a gigabyte to install… and for very little gain. There are tools on Unix and Linux that have not radically changed their interfaces in over 30 years, and we LIKE IT that way! Then these Steves, and these Bills came along and started adding their “gooeys” and their “buttons” and the needing of more than 120k of RAM, and everything has gone to Hell since. :wink:

The funny thing is that Emacs is so massive that people joke about just skipping the operating system and booting straight into it. This is a text editor with a built-in psychologist, after all. :mrgreen:

That’s an essential feature! If they could also build in a hand massager, it’d be in there too, but the keyboard combo would make your entire arm spasm.