Default synopsis placeholder

There is a button you can click to autogenerate a synopsis from the text of a document. I personally do not find this useful, because the first part of the text is rarely useful as a synopsis. However, I see nothing really evil about it.

On the other hand, when I journal using Scrivener (which is very often), I usually create documents using the current date as the title, like 2013-09-11. This is probably about optimal for journaling. I also rarely if ever bother to write a synopsis for a journal entry, probably because there is nothing right there in my face demanding one, and from the point of view of a journal, it’s not the most important thing anyway.

But when I look at the corkboard view or the outliner view, there is nothing useful there, just the title/date. I have no real clue as to what is in a particular document until I go look at it. On those occasions (rare but memorable) when I need to find something I vaguely recall writing in my journal back in 2011 or 2012, it would be very helpful if I could use the corkboard or outliner view to browse, in spite of my having failed to integrate fully the Scrivener spirit back when I was younger.

I take the inspiration for my suggestion from the current outliner’s “Title and Synopsis” option, in which two records are displayed in a single field. What if whenever the synopsis text was specified in the outliner or corkbord, there was an option to use “Synopsis or Initial Text”? The initial text would not be part of the synopsis, and in fact would only appear if there were no synopsis; it should probably be marked, for example, by putting brackets around it, and you should only be able to edit it in the editor. It would not appear in the synopsis field in the inspector.

In other words, I suggest that when there is no synopsis to place in a synopsis field in the outliner or corkboard, that instead of leaving it blank, it be filled by default with a bit of the initial text of the document, as much as will fit conveniently.

This is obviously completely different from autogenerating a synopsis, and you could still do that if you wanted to. This is really more about defining a “default synopsis placeholder”.

If people want the synopsis field to be blank unless they wrote a synopsis, fine, they shouldn’t enable the option. But I suspect that a lot of people might find it useful to have something meaningful go into that slot, even if it goes against what a lot of other people might find dangerously unprincipled.

Greg Shenaut

P.S. In a related vein, it might also be useful to display optionally a synopsis line at the top or bottom of the edit window. This would be a reminder to write a synopsis if you haven’t done so, and would remind you of what you wrote if you have, and it wouldn’t take up anywhere near as much space as the Inspector panel.

Try downloading the current beta version for the Mac. You can rename the beta so that it doesn’t overwrite your stable install if you wish (there are a few bugs in this release which may persuade you to not use it regularly—no dangerous bugs to be clear, but for example if you need statistics this panel doesn’t work right now—however I do myself use it for daily work, YMMV as they say). Once you have that loaded up, visit the Appearance preferences pane, click on “General Interface” and enable the option “Show first lines of text in empty synopsis”. I believe it does everything you are looking for.