Configurable keyboard for easy editing

Forgive if this has been mentioned anywhere else in these threads for the forthcoming iPad version:

To my mind (as both a novelist and non-fiction writer who uses Scrivener as my main writing and editing interface), one absolutely essential element that the iPad version of Scrivener will need to have (apart from the ability to sync in a direct way with the full Mac desktop version), is an enhanced keyboard that makes up for some of the deficiencies in the default iPad keyboard in order to make writing an easier process.

Most iPad apps that focus on writing already provide enhanced keyboards, allowing certain keys that are common in writing (e.g. colon, semicolon, double-quotes, etc.), which are hidden under double key presses or sub-keyboard screens on the default iPad keyboard, to be immediately accessible in the writing interface.

So far as I have been able to test, the best of these is provided in the Daedalus Touch (itunes.apple.com/us/app/daedalus … 64546?mt=8) app. This application adds a row above the top of the keyboard (as most apps do) that allows extra keys to be added – but what really sets this app’s enhancements apart is that this row is entirely user customisable: it can have more or fewer extra keys, as the user wishes, and each key can be configured as the user sees fit – so I always have on the screen those keys that are most relevant to my writing. Additionally, the buttons can be configured automatically to determine opening and closing versions of key presses (e.g. the same button will automatically insert an open- and close-bracket when pressed in the appropriate places; no need for two buttons); and the buttons can be configured for different key combinations as desired.

Writing in this app is more seamless and pleasant than in any other iPad app I’ve used thus far – and as Scrivener has always been focused on the writing process above all else, it seems like this has to be at the very top of the priorities list.

Additional editor features that Daedalus provides include easy cursor movement: tapping with a single finger on either the right or left side of the screen moves the cursor one character to the right or left; while tapping with two fingers on either side moves the cursor one whole word to the right or left. This makes something very easy out of what is rather cumbersome in iPad’s default interface, and again is something quite key to serious writers.

I would highly recommend that your developers obtain a copy of the Daedalus app and get to know the full features of its keyboard and editor interface, and that similar (and perhaps even better) functionality be incorporated into the Scrivener iPad interface from day one. Without such features, even the best-designed feature set for the app will still fail at the level of actually opening up the keyboard and starting to write.

I’m happy to make any additional comments or share thoughts on this, if it might be helpful.

Cheers.

(NB: I currently use Daedalus for my writing on the iPad, and link it to Scrivener for Mac via a shared folder sync through Dropbox. This works, but is cumbersome!)

Hi uk_write!

I was very happy to see your post and completely agree with it.

Please see some details of my post of January 2, called “Extended Keyboard” and, much more importantly, Jenny’s positive and promising reaction to it!

(There is hope, although probably not for version 1, which would be still rather disappointing: what’s the point of a gorgeous notebook if you can only use it with a low quality pencil?)

Dee

PS would you mind trying out Nebulous Notes and post your comparisons with Daedalus to this forum? I think many people would appreciate that and the developers might find it useful as well! TIA!

Thank you for the reply and comments Dee. I knew I wouldn’t be the only one to be worrying that this gets included! And I do hope for this to be a key feature of the first version of an iPad version: without it, the program simply won’t be viable for writers, however nice its other functions may be. Writing has, at its core, the actual ability to get words onto the device – and without an extended keyboard, this simply won’t be workable.

I’ll try the other app you mentioned and compare the keyboards!

I’d be grateful for a link to the thread you mentioned, also.

Daedalus’ keyboard is indeed something we like, in particular its ability to compact matching pairs of punctuation into a single key, which many other custom keyboards do not do. They require two keys for each side of the pair. Daedalus uses the left-hand pair first, and then the right-hand pair the second time on the same button. Also its fast switching between alternates under a single key is nice. You can put double and single quotes in one spot, and parentheses and other bracket forms in other spot, rather than taking up six buttons for them all (or twelve in systems that do not handle matching pairs). Nebulous Notes was one of the first to have a custom keyboard, and it is pretty good too. It has some weaknesses compared to the Daedalus keyboard (mostly in polish of both usage and configuration) but it also has some clear strengths.

Anyway, just thought I would add to the thread and let you know these are definitely all things that have been discussed internally, and we do indeed examine existing models looking for the best way to provide a writer-friendly interface.

Dear AmberV,

Thank you for your notes. I’m delighted to hear this is being worked on – as someone who uses Scrivener for the production and editing of several hundred thousand words of text each year, this has been one of my main concerns when envisaging an iPad product (which I am desperately waiting for; the Sync options we have at present, while functional, are cumbersome!), as it is so much at the heart of writing.

Lovely to hear how things are progressing.

I think you may have made your point there already. :slight_smile:

Sorry… didn’t mean to be harping on that! :wink:

I hope it’s clear that my comments are all about working for a great move forward. No one is a more devoted fan of Scrivener than I. It has long since become the main avenue of my work!

All the more reason we’re eagerly awaiting what’s next…

Absolutely - I do understand, and am looking forward to the iOS version myself (the iPhone version more for me, mind).

[quote]
This makes something very easy out of what is rather cumbersome in iPad’s default interface, and again is something quite key to serious writers/quote]

I agree with this, which is why I use a bluetooth keyboard. But obviously not everyone does - and sometimes I just can’t be bothered to go through the process of connecting the two! - so a Daedalus-type keyboard (which I also use) would be welcome. However, further to my previous post, and as someone who works between desktop (80%) and iPad (20%) on the same project, I would like to make the following plea:

[b]Any document formatting in Scrivener on my iPad must be consistent with the document formatting in Scrivener on the desktop./b]

This mismatch is the cause of much of my frustration with syncing, which - at the risk of showing my ignorance - I imagine is down to using plaintext files :confused: I am a novelist, and much of the mismatch lies with things like indents and italics, or extra lines added at the end of paragraphs, that sort of thing. I have also got a play written in Scrivener but I have not tried to sync it due to worries with what will happen to formatting when it comes back from the iPad.

As I’ve said before, I don’t know whether what I’m talking about is possible in the first iteration (or indeed at all) but it would certainly rebalance my desktop-iPad usage in favour of the latter and make both an enhanced virtual keyboard (or real one) all the more appealing.

Cheers

Tripper

We will be including some formatting in the iPad version, but you do have to remember that the iPad is not capable of all the same formatting as OS X (thus even Pages on iPad loses lots of formatting). There are a limited number of fonts available on the iPad, and the iPad has no rich text editing controls, so the best way of achieving rich text editing is via the WebKit and HTML, which is limited to what HTML can do and does not have all of the formatting available to it that Scrivener does. So, while the iPad version will definitely support formatting, to ask for the formatting to be exactly consistent is asking for the impossible, I’m afraid.

All the best,
Keith

I had a feeling you were going to say that…

Still, as others have said in this thread, anything that simplifies the sync process would be manna from heaven. :slight_smile:

Hi uk_write!

Sorry for the late reply, i was away from this forum…

My earlier post/topic was called “Extended keyboard” and it is inside this very forum, from early January.
(Sorry i dont know how to make a link and have no time to figure it out now.)

I am looking forward to your comparisons! You may want to look at the weird but interesing attempt in Heart Writer, where each key can produce five different characters/actions. I dont own (yet) Daedalus, so cannot compare myself.

Another interesting app (with many other very useful features, such as nested folders and tags, in addition to its extended keyboard) is iNoteBox. The problem is so many things are essential for a really workable writing app: ease of data entry, ease of finding, sorting, grouping material, ease of editing, comparing, etc. etc…

Happy to see that AmberV likes the idea of improved keyboards! :slight_smile:

I would love to hear from others how they feel about the keyboard issue. Maybe they dont all feel it is so essential, as you and I do?

Best,
Dee

This is a given with the iPad’s structure for the moment, and obviously something that has to be seen as a limitation to live with and work within (i.e. no full RTF formatting support).

To my mind, the major formatting issues that most authors require in terms of writing are just the standards (of which the iPad is capable): italic, boldface, underline. Most of us who write for publishers, for example, don’t engage in much other extensive formatting (e.g. multiple fonts, precise text styling, and so on), as publishers won’t allow this in manuscript submissions; but we do need italic, bold and underline for basic typesetting requirements.

Currently, one of the big hindrances of syncing with Scrivener is that any modified paragraph that contains formatting of even these basic types, gets lost on sync, since the iPad products used for the Sync are all pure-text based. This can be quite a hindrance, for example, in working on a novel where italicised font is used for characters’ interior thought processes, etc., and so there is a lot of important back-and-forth from normal to italicised font, which has a critical role to play in the storyline. At present, this all gets deleted on sync, and all modified paragraphs are plaintext with no formatting. (This means, as a practical example of my own writing, that I must convert the styling in any paragraph I work with on the iPad to old typewriter indicators: e.g. typing text for italicised text, text for bold, etc.; then when I sync back to the Mac product I must go through all these paragraphs manually, delete the markers and format the text. This can be incredibly time consuming in long chapters.)

As far as I am concerned, ability to maintain just these basic formatting essentials (bold, italic, underline) on sync, so that what is (for example) italicised on the Mac version shows up as italicised on the iPad version, and can be edited and manipulated on the iPad as such, and when re-synced maintains that styling, would overcome one of the primary obstacles to serious usage of the iPad for synced writing with Scrivener.

Other formatting standards might be added in time as the technologies of the iOS platform might make these more viable in the future (e.g. bulled lists, degrees of indentation, etc.); but for the time being the focus of the product on writing (rather than layout / design / production) would be greatly aided by ensuring that these three fundamentals can be used on the iPad platform.

Indeed! But, fortunately, the folks at Scrivener know exactly what these are – which is why so many of us have been using their product religiously. And why I’m sure the iPad version will be superb when we finally see it.

Again, I think you’ve made your point on these things - you have rammed it home forcefully. :slight_smile: And please take it as read that our iPad version will support bold, italics and underline at the very least!

(Seriously, we’ve been doing a lot of design work - along with the development Jen is doing - this weekend, and it is all very exciting. We are many - many! - months away from a final product, but as things stand, I hope that we will be delivering something unique and worth the wait…)

All the best,
Keith

Great! Can i put in a plea to also add strikethrough? Maybe i am old-fashioned but i find it very useful to see earlier, crossed-out versions… Several apps have it, so it cannot be too difficult. Thanks!
Dee

It will have strikethrough. We already have that working, in fact. :slight_smile:

Thank you! Wonderful! :smiley:

I’d agree with this re formatting for submission to publishers, especially for us fiction writers, but I would add margins and indentation to the list of essential formatting. Having dialogue indentations and margins matchng between iPad & Desktop is a must really.

Indentations and margins are highly unlikely. Syncing will do its best to match everything up with the formatting in the main editor, but you have to remember that the iPad does not have a full rich text system, and nor is it ideally suited to dealing with rulers and suchlike. We’e not going to try to create a full rich text environment, but rather bring in the basic formatting essentials useful for writing rather than layout.

All the best,
Keith