Adding a compile wizard that will walk new users through the compile process step-by-step

I’m not advocating for scrapping the current compile feature. I think it’s an important feature for experienced users who want the ability to fine tune every detail of their compiled document. On the contrary, the suggested wizard would be geared towards new users. Users who may be intimidated by the complexity of scrivener and eventually give up on the product.

The wizard would guide them through the process by asking simple questions or giving visual references, when applicable, to help them select the proper formatting for their project. The wizard could be as long or short as necessary but in the end it would gathered all the information and output the document without the user ever having to look at the compile window.

Obviously they would lose a great amount of control in the formatting, but a compile wizard would simplify the process greatly and reduce the amount of confusion surrounding the compile feature. When they’ve become more comfortable with the product they can begin exploring some of the more advanced features.


I’ve struggled with Compile. It’s full of useful features and can be overwhelming. From what you say, a wizard would remove some of that.

I suggest an explanation in the manual that explains more detail the already detailed explanation, along with more imagery to that end. Perhaps more about Project Settings and the relationship it has to Compile.

More detail in how to use the dialog would be very helpful:

Had a technical issue…

Sometimes I find I cannot edit the text in the part of the window with the ruler. Sometimes, yes. Why? The parts here need more explanation, I think.

Thanks for reading.

Have you been through the Interactive Tutorial project?

The challenge in creating such a wizard is that just because a user is new to Scrivener, that doesn’t mean that they are new to writing, or that their project is at all “basic.” A wizard that could accommodate a novel, a screenplay, a legal brief, and a technical thesis – to name just a few of the projects that “new” Scrivener users often have – would very quickly become just as complicated as the Compile command itself.


Check the “override formatting” box. Until you do, changing the formatting won’t do anything anyway, and so the function is disabled.


Complicated to code, perhaps, but that doesn’t mean that the UI has to be complicated. The key is to not overload new users with too much information at once. Ask simple questions in terms they will understand. Provide visuals as a reference point. Branch the wizard based on the users response and ask the next series of questions. It’s doesn’t have to be complicated for the user. Obviously some restrictions may need to be applied to simplify the process, such as standardizing some formatting, but that’s OK. It’ll encourage them to learn more about the advanced compile features, when they’re comfortable. The main thing is not scaring them away out the gate. You want to keep them engaged and wanting to learn more.

I’ve worked in the software development industry for nearly 20 years and participated in countless usability studies. The one constant over the years has been that complex software will always drive casual users away.

To answer your question, yes I have gone through the interactive tutorial. It’s very well put together and a fantastic resource. But I think the tutorial , and the PDF manual for that matter, both suffer the same problem. They’re great for users who are already invested in the software and want to learn more, but for new users who are still on the fence, it’s almost information overload. Telling a prospective new users to read a 350 page manual is likely to just scare them away even faster. Neither IMO are substitutes for a well designed Wizard. Just my 2 cents.

Checking the box did the trick. Thanks.

I spoke too soon.

I get Times New roman with these settings.

There are books, you can buy. Some of them with a very low price, covering the basics. Let others than L&L earn a buck or two by teaching others to use Scrivener. L&L are working hard to get the software to work so don’t distract them.

I have two or three such books. They made it easier to grasp how Scrivener works.

What are you using to open the resulting file?

Does that software have access to the font you’re using?


Standardized formatting is what the supplied Compile presets do. As soon as you step away from those, you open a Pandora’s box of potential customizations. Scrivener supplies nine different sets of Script Settings alone, and still we hear from users who want something different. I think you are seriously underestimating the number of questions that would need to be asked and the number of options that would need to be offered.

A secondary issue is that we do not have nearly enough internal expertise in enough different formats to know what would be helpful. We risk creating an even worse mess for the users by asking questions that almost lead to what they want, but not quite.


If you haven’t done so already, I would suggest running a few focus groups to get feedback on what an average user would find useful. I think you might be surprised to find how little control casual users actually want. Most simply want to output their document with as few clicks as possible. I’d wager that the overwhelming majority could make do with the default formats if they were presented in a streamlined fashion so as to not overload their senses.

With regard to your second point, not having the expertise on some of the formats. That’s a valid concern and a good reason to direct users to an advanced compiler. A wizard may never be able to account for every single format, nor should it even try. Focus groups would help here as well to determine which formats people are most interest in an and focusing on those for a wizard.

That said, you don’t seem overly interested in this type of feedback to help improve the user experience so I’m not going to continue beating this dead horse. Best of luck to you.

Ah, there’s at least one disconnect. I wouldn’t call a writer who is willing to spend time and money on a new program a casual user.

Casual users can and do invest time and money in software all the time. What makes them casual users isn’t whether or not they would pay for software but their level of comfort in using computer programs, in general. If it’s confusing or difficult to use you may have a low conversion rate from a free trial to paying customers and that’s a big deal.

This discussion seems likely to descend into a back and forth about what the best way for L&L to grow its business is :unamused: Let’s try to avoid that !

@zeddd, my experience with this company is that it is very willing to listen to its users, and to make changes based on their observations. Catering for screenwriting is one area that jumps to mind. In terms of Compile, if I recall correctly it was redesigned for Scriv3 based on the developer’s vision, and also in large part on several years’ worth of user feedback and suggestions. A bit more info here, if you have the time: … ng-compile

To the OP, there are several built-in, default Compile settings. These might be worth exploring, in terms of simplifying Compile. There also four videos on Compiling in Scrivener 3 available on Lit&Lat’s Youtube site. Full list of Scriv3 videos here: … 2hlPoFzp4k

And since none of us has access to L&L’s download and sales data, there’s no real point in any of us trying to tell them how to run their business, now is there? They’ve managed to keep things up and running for a while now and the sheer uptick in drive-by forum postings is at least one indicator that they enjoy a reasonable number of customers who are willing to pay for the software.

Not everything needs to be or SHOULD be catered to the lowest common denominator.

To “output a document with as few clicks as possible,” simply choose one of the default formats. There’s a list right there in the main Compile screen.

As I noted up above, though, plenty of casual users of software are still very serious writers, with very sophisticated publication requirements. No wizard is going to be able to eliminate the complexity that is inherent in what they are trying to do.


I am using PDF Export in the print dialog to make the file and I open it in Preview.

One of the things L&L did do during the development of version 3 and the new Compile function was gather data on how people tend to structure their Binder — to find out, for example whether typical users might generally use a Part - Chapter - Scene type hierarchy, etc. This resulted in a system whereby Compile formats can default to assigning Section Types automatically by Binder structure. This one move makes it possible for new users to simply use a canned Compile format to get rich output without doing any heavy lifting — no delving into compile settings or even assigning documents to section types.

So, the new and casual user has a way to proceed without too much fuss.

I think, zeddd, it is when someone wants to open the hood and customize their own compile format that things get more complex!

Try setting up a document using this font in TextEdit, and printing to PDF with the standard Apple dialog. If that works, please open a support ticket and attach a sample project demonstrating the problem.