Eliminate Non Windows Conventions and Controls

There is no room on controls to tell users how they will work. So, instead there are conventions that tell the user exactly what the control will do. For example, in the control on the right, the user knows that the number in the control will increase or decrease when he clicks on the up or down arrow, respectively.

He knows that clicking on the down arrow on the left control will open a list of options.

Today I clicked on the up arrow next to the zoom control at the bottom of Scrivener’s edit window, expecting the zoom to increase. Instead of brought up a list of zoom levels. If the control had looked like this, I’d know immediately how it worked.

Users like to know how controls work. Consider changing the controls to work like Windows standards.

I’m very much in agreement with this post (with the exception of the default assumption that the user is a ‘he’. :astonished:)

I would like to add to TromboneAl’s examples that Scrivener has a number of important dialog boxes where the path/location field isn’t a field at all, but a “fixed label” dropdown, whose dropdown options are invariably useless. These can be found on the Backup Project To dialog, and on the New Project panel. Note these fixed label dropdowns are also found across the formatting tab (where to some extent they are less problematic, but are no less counter-conventional wrt Windows standards – see TromboneAl’s first graphic.)

This all results in extra steps, usually clicks, and subtly (or not so subtly) steer interaction with the UI (and thus the subjective UX) towards the mouse and away from the keyboard (which when you think about is one of the last things you’d expect to find in a writing program.)

Similar can be said about the layout of, and the distribution and labeling of commands across, Scrivener’s menu system.

Please see this post for an example of a menu access issue that is easily masked when using a mouse, but that reveals itself (and reveals itself and reveals itself again) with keyboard menu navigation.

Focus not returning to editor from menus

PS. I LOVE Scrivener, and purchased a license yesterday. I think it’s both inspired and brilliant, but this category of design issues is really maddening. :imp:

IIRC Scriv for Windows uses the QT framework, so they’re probably limited to whatever widgets/controls are available there.

There are a few different styles to choose from (available styles may depend on which version of QT they’re using), but from looking at them crpppc19.epfl.ch/doc/qt4-doc-htm … llery.html it appears that they’re already using the Windows Vista style.

And, of course, the style you see might also depend on which version of Windows you’re running as well.

FWIW, I’m using Windows 7, and will likely be for some time to come. It would be interesting to know what the version breakdown is on the Windows side.

I can’t comment on the pros and cons of the Qt framework on the development side. But here on the user side, to my eye, some of the controls/widgets look fairly old-school, and clearly compromise some functionality and ease of use, but also consistency, both within the app and with OS conventions.

And of course menu organization and naming conventions have nothing to do with any of that, but a great deal to do with the experience of the program. Great functionality deserves as little friction as possible between itself and those who ‘func’ with it. :wink:

Thanks for your feedback. I think you have amply made your points, and we will continue to look at the controls and UI of Scrivener for Windows as we develop it going forwards.

Why should Keith / L&L conform to any type of convention, unless they absolutely want to?

Developers can do whatever they want with their software: they don’t have to pander to the Pavlovian conditioning of other companies’ software.

Scrivener’s raison d’être is in allowing people to write. Posts about icon designs, user controls, etc seem (to me) to miss the point completely. So, some controls don’t work in the same way as controls in other software and users have to make an extra click or two … things that most people probably don’t even notice or care about. Is it really that hard to do something different for a change? Isn’t change good?

For me, the zoom control is fine as it is. Don’t care if it is changed or not. Don’t care about the look of dialog boxes. Don’t care if I have to use the mouse or keyboard. Don’t care about a few extra steps. Don’t care about icon designs. Do care that in its core functionality Scrivener is the best writing tool I have ever used. Everything else is lint.

The OP doesn’t speak for everyone. Certainly not for me. I don’t care about knowing how controls work before I click them, because I can figure out how they work as soon as I do click them. And I don’t care if the controls conform to other standards or not. I’d be perfectly happy for Scrivener to work in direct opposition to every standard, just as long as its core functionality remains sublime.

Think different. Be different. Conform if you want to. All fine by me. When I take a jumper out of the dryer, I care about the jumper. Don’t give a fig about the dials, controls, pretty icons or the lint in the filter. If it works, it works. Can’t believe most people care about the peripheries, especially things that they use infrequently, or set and forget.

Long live Scrivener and long may it be unique.

Well yes…

By that same logic you should be able to make and drive on public roads, a car that has the driver seat installed backwards. Just put a mirror so the driver can see where he’s going and you’re in business. no one but crazy people would buy it because the accepted norm for cars is that the driver seat face the front, not the rear of the car.

If you don’t like that analogy, consider using airplane style controls for steering. Left/right with your feet, accelerate and brake with hand actuated levers. Who would be able to get into that vehicle and drive it?

The standards for UI are there to ensure common behaviors leading to predicability for the masses. Sure, you and I might be ok with levers for brakes, but my wife? She’d kill someone since she’s never flow a plan. The request is valid. Even MS makes an effort to confirm to the OSX UI philosophy with their mac products.

I can’t believe I just defended a position in support of that other OS UI. I’m not sure I’m feeling well.

ong Live L&L.

Well, even if they’re non-standard, what the controls do is easy enough to adapt to after you’ve clicked on them once.

Perhaps there’s room for improvement, but given the size of the Dev team I’d rather they put their time into achieving feature parity with the Mac version rather than fussing with widgets.

Keep an eye on that dryer lint though, that stuff can be a fire hazard. :wink:

We’re not the masses. We’re writers. We have imaginations. Love change. New ideas. :smiley:

If we stuck with standard UIs, we’d all be using abacuses, DOS, or mobiles phones with keypads.

I agree about the car and plane (to some extent), though those are different in that their use impacts on other people.

When we’re sitting in front of our computers, anything goes. The UI only impacts on us.

The request is neither valid nor invalid. Keith is what Keith is, and Keith does what Keith does. If Keith wants to invert every UI convention, that’s his choice. Our choice is whether we buy and use the software or not.

I understand the OP’s point about the up/down arrows and how they are conventionally used in other programs. Don’t care about other programs. I can learn what to do in Scrivener.

In fact, I hadn’t even realised about the up/down arrows until I read the OP’s post. I’m not that conditioned by icons and controls. Now I have noticed, I still don’t care. In fact, I think I love Scrivener just a little bit more for being different.

I’m off to buy a car with a seat installed backwards. Cool idea. :wink:

Darn, why can’t I be that succinct? :smiley:

Just to clarify, I don’t disagree with TromboneAI or Mad Girl Disease - we should conform where possible, although it’s never as simple as it seems. And we will look at all of this, but there other more important things we need to do with the Windows version first. :slight_smile:

Just to clarify, I don’t disagree with KB. But I also want to defend KB’s right to be different, to conform, or do whatever he wants.

Love Scrivener. Think some “concerns” are trivial and probably aren’t even noticed by most people.

Every car I have driven has had the indicator stalk, light switch, handbrake, gearstick, hazard switch, etc in slightly different positions. As long as the car works and I know where the various things are, the UI doesn’t matter. I can cope. Am perfectly happy. Enjoy the change. Welcome having something new to learn.

Scrivener could be the ugliest and most unconventional UI on the planet. I wouldn’t care a hoot because it is so brilliant in the core of what it does.

I can’t see changing the buttons to make it conform to standards being a bad thing, but I do have to question whether there is any such MS standard. Here, for instance, is MS Outlook’s zoom control, positioned under the so-called "to-do bar, rather than directly below the email pane that the zoom affects:

Outlook Zoom tool.PNG

This is on Win 7 and Office Pro+ 2010. It may not be the latest and greatest, but seriously, that’s a lot of wasted space to tell me I’m online with the corporate exchange server, while placing a huge (for its purpose) zoom tool in an unrelated spot on the footer bar. And that’s Microsoft’s very own Exchange programming team doing this.

Not that Apple are paragons of virtue when it comes to being consistent with their own GUI guidelines (Mtn Lion’s Faux Leather Calendar being the most egregious example lately). I do appreciate when things are consistent and clean looking, but Holding 1.5 developers (I’m assuming it’s still Lee @ “full time” & Tiho at 1/2 time?) to standards that not even juggernauts like MS or Apple are willing or capable of…? I think there are more important things for Lit & Lat’s programmers to focus on first.


Now that I’ve wasted a good deal of time I should be spending on work (or sneaking in revisions on my ‘masterpiece’), I’ll bid this discussion adieu… (for an hour probably :unamused: )

Thank you, by the way! :slight_smile:

Every time I open Pages and iPhoto, the placement of the “View” menu drives me crazy. From Apple’s own Human Interface Guidelines:

But Apple ignore that convention in about half of their apps. Anyway, I digress…

I believe the “we’re not the masses…we’re writers…” argument makes great sense if we’re talking about Scrivener as an alternative to more conventional writing tools and environments, and about the things it allows us to do that the others don’t.

But that is not what we’re talking about.

We’re talking about certain established conventions of design that exist independent of how extraordinary and specialized and non-mass Scrivener is wrt functionality, power, etc.

As a writer, I hardly want to sit here and associate myself with or defend “established conventions” – except when I do. And as a writer, I much prefer having my expectations met when it comes to the common, everyday “established conventions” of how an application’s basic wiring and infrastructure work. That’s what we’re talking about. The less I have to think about or pay attention to or even be aware of that stuff, and just write, the better.

Of course you care about the jumper, and not the dials, controls, and petty icons, or the lint in the filter – except when you do.

You’d care if in order to change the dryer from Hot-Hot to Warm-Cool so the jumper didn’t shrink you had to open a jumper (ha!) box and throw a switch, no matter how easy that was.

And I believe you would care about the icons and the lint filter if the CLEAN LINT FILTER icon was in an array with a dozen other icons, whose on/off states and colors change depending on what mode the dryer is in.

In this case, were talking about a machine that could stand having certain things improved, despite how well designed and in love we are with its motor or heater and so on. If I had to use that dryer every day, and if I was lucky enough to have easy access to the receptive ears of the machine’s designers – as we are fortunate enough to have with the machine in question – then why not bring it their attention?

That’s an awfully strange sentiment to be expressed through the words of an advertising slogan for one of the most successful mass market consumer brands human civilization has yet seen. :wink:

A good career move.