Composition Mode Features

Hey all,

(Parts of this are copied from a tech-support thread I started, so please forgive any overlap.)

With regards to Composition mode, which I otherwise really dig: While I respect the fact that for focused writing, some people want fewer distractions brought on all the program’s usual by bells and whistles — and that Composition mode was probably built with these people foremost in mind — that logic certainly doesn’t apply to everyone who uses Composition mode, and isn’t the only reason to like using it. I personally like Composition mode because the rest of the GUI is gone, and I get a nice, aesthetically pleasing interface to my current document (and with a nice, non-tiling background image and translucent, textured paper to boot), with a nice, compact bar at the bottom of the screen with some basic options in it, and LOTS of room to work in without bumping into other the parts of the UI. However, that doesn’t mean I want actual functionality taken away from me in some sort of Faustian bargain.

So, what I would propose is simply adding an option to the Composition pane of the Preferences window: “Allow Distraction-Free Writing In Composition Mode,” a checkbox that would do exactly what it says (and which could maybe be switched “on” by default). When checked, Scrivener would look and behave exactly as it does now in Composition mode. When not checked, the appearance of Composition mode would not change one bit, but some of its behavior would; i.e., the user’s access to all the program’s (hidden) windows, menu-options, and functions would be restored to normal, so the rest of us — who simply want a clutter free writing experience (and not a less functional one) — would still be able to have an interface free of visual distraction, without losing any functionality.

Another improvement I might suggest for Composition mode is this: Currently, one accesses the Document hierarchy by clicking on a button in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen and navigating a series of pop-out menus. While this is effective, and is in keeping with the clutter-free ideal of Composition mode, I think there may be a better solution: A visually-slick, gradient-shaded copy of the Binder that magically slides out with an animation when the user bumps their mouse cursor against the left side of the screen, and then magically slides away again whenever a selection is made. It’s perhaps not quite as compact as what’s there now (which, don’t get me wrong, works pretty well), but it’s more in keeping with maintaining consistency across all parts of the UI, even when in a different writing mode.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Comments, suggestions?

Having the binder slide out from the left when in composition mode is an excellent idea. The way it is now, if I want to move to the next document I have to click the “Go To" button, navigate my way from the top to my current location without any indication of my current position in the hierarchy, and then click the next document. Having the Binder behave the same way as it does now when hidden in the normal view is much more intuitive.

No need to access the binder or the menu in composition mode to move up and down the binder documents: cmd-opt-up and cmd-opt-down will do this for you. BTW these also work in normal mode and the Lion Full Screen view. If you’re using split screen, cmd-opt-ctl-up/down will do the same for the ‘other Editor’ documents.



Yeah it was really a bad example. I have configured Dragon Dictate to use those keyboard shortcuts so that’s not really a problem. The main problem is quickly finding your current position in the hierarchy and looking up something somewhere else in the project. Which having access to the normal view of the binder would solve.

In general, I like the idea of clutter free writing but it seems we don’t all have the same definition of clutter. I’m using Scrivener to write my dissertation so I need access to various documents all the time. The Research folder is an ideal solution, but in composition mode it’s not such distraction-free feature. If I have document x in front of me for reference, but then need to quickly verify a detail in document y, rather than having the ease that the inspector adds to accessing notes, I need to leave the distraction free environment, navigate through the menu bar to document y and then follow the same route to return to document x. I’d like to see the Research folder either integrated into the inspector or given the same ease of access as the inspector in Composition mode.

If you want access to the binder etc, use full screen mode rather than Composition mode. Composition mode is purely intended for… “composition”. :slight_smile:

I’ve just experimented with Keith’s suggestion. I hadn’t realised before just how vicious it’s possible to get with the view menu…

[Before you do this, cmd-shift-) to bring up the Manage Layouts dialogue box. Save your default window setup by creating a new layout and naming it. Optionally assign a shortcut to this default in System Preferences.]

Format > Hide Ruler (cmd-R)
Format > Hide Format Bar (cmd-shift-R)
View > Layout > Hide the Toolbar
View > Layout > Hide Header View
View > Layout > Hide Footer View
View > Layout > Hind Binder (cmd-opt-B)
View > Layout > Hind Inspector (cmd-opt-I)
View > Enter Full Screen (cmd-ctl-F)

You’ve now got an empty screen as with Composition mode, but with the ability to toggle the binder and inspector with cmd-opt-B and cmd-opt-I (or sliding them in by putting the cursor to the left / right of the screen).

Go to Manage Layouts again (cmd-shift-) ) and save and name the new minimalist layout.

You can now call up your clutter free environment and revert to the default through your shortcuts or through the Window > Layouts menu. You don’t have some of the benefits of proper Composition mode of course (e.g. different paper background etc), and you’ll have to play around with Preferences > Editor > Default editor width > Use Fixed Width to get the effect of a piece of paper centred in the screen. But it does give you the ability you wanted to navigate through the binder easily.

Actually, if you enable “Use different colors in full screen” in the Customizable Colors section of the Appearance tab in Preferences, you’ll get an additional “Full Screen” line at the bottom of the left customize list and the ability to set special colors for the interface when in FS. Including (my favorite!) an override text color option just like in Composition mode. There’s also a built-in “dark gray theme” enabled by the lower checkboxes, because Keith likes dark grey. 8)

I appreciate the responses, but for those of us who use more than one screen or who use Apple’s ill-advised replacement for Spaces (“Mission Control”), Full Screen mode is something to avoid at all costs. I think it’s up to developers to work around these monstrosities! :laughing:

Did you try David’s suggestions using layouts? You don’t need to also go into Full Screen to create a working minimalist layout; I have several created before Lion came around and which I still use on Snow Leopard. You can even create preference themes via the Manage button in Preferences, which makes it easy to swap color schemes. If the pared-down interface of composition mode doesn’t suit your needs, using layouts is the solution (or the “workaround” to the failings of Apple’s Full Screen).

You can also use QuickReference windows while in composition mode, which you can open via View > QuickReference; you can also load them ahead of time, if you know which documents you’re most likely going to want to reference, and then just toggle the windows to the front and back as yo need them using the Window > Float QuickReference Panels command (Ctrl-Cmd-Q).

As far as Lion/Mt. Lion’s destruction of Spaces, I highly recommend TotalSpaces. It offers a nice handful of features to restore Snow Leopard power to desktops/mission control, including a grid and the ability to adjust the transition speed (or turn it off entirely, which I have done, as Lion’s brilliant design of moving the menu bar as well as the desktop and going slowly makes me so nauseated it’s completely unusable). I’ve only experienced one minor glitch with the app, when the trackpad swipe stops working and needs to be toggled off and on again, though this seems a relatively uncommon bug and one the developer is continuing to work on. The advantages far outweigh this infrequent inconvenience.

Thank you for the TotalSpaces recommendation, MM. It is a useful application. I use it occasionally - if only it had slightly more flexibility to mix fullscreens and desktops!

I’ll play around with David’s (?) suggestions a bit more. It’s a shame Apple have made such a mess of Spaces…