Feature request lists

I love Scrivener Gold so far; in fact I’m not sure why KB thinks it requires such a thorough overhaul. I like the interface pretty much as is. That said, I would love to see a couple of changes in the next version:

  1. Filtering and Smart Groups (brilliantly done in Journler) that, like the current “draft” mode, would allow one to edit both the full draft and it’s constituent pieces; thus fully leveraging Scrivener’s best and most unique feature.
  2. Autocomplete tagging (from previous tags)
  3. Export option for attaching notes
  4. Setting of convert draft to default style on a doc by doc basis

and in the “too much too ask for?” dept.

  1. Margin notes (Ã la Jer’s Novel Writer) could replace annotations
  2. Built in auto thesaurus (Ã la Nisus Writer Express)
  3. WikiLinks or auto detected doc links (Like Devonthink)

Together, these and Scrivener’s already impressive feature set would make up the perfect writing app I’ve been waiting for since 1984.




Thanks Maria,

Can’t say I’m wild about the limited filtering in the action menu, and unfortunately Journler’s very maclike implementaion has me completely spoiled. Some days I wish all software was modular and we could just build our own using this feature from here and that from there. Now there’s a business plan only a user could love.

I’m sure it’s very frustrating for developers to have to put up with such comparisons; but I figure it’s all cocoa for chrissakes, can’t we just share? If Mail and Itunes can do it, why can’t everybody?

Anyways, thanks for the tip.


Ha! You are speaking my heart here, Eiron!

I like your wish list. I haven’t used Journler’s smart groups enough to be spoiled by them, but enough to be tantalized. I agree that the filtering action doesn’t quite cut it once you’ve played around with Journler or used any program with a good implementation of smart groups. Journler’s smart ‘collections’ is brilliant! I would love to see that implemented, or even something close to it, in Scrivener someday.

Alexandria (and Maria, no worries about leaving off the ‘i’. It happens all the time. Not many of us Alexandria’s around.)

I could be completely wrong on this score, because I know very little about programming – BUT, I am fairly certain that all of those nice fast searching goodies and smart folders require OS 10.4’s new data storage system called CoreData. It is basically a specialised relational database, much like this forum uses, to store everything in the program. In other words, all of your documents in Scrivener would be in a database chunk, not stored as neat RTFD files in a Bundle, the way they currently are.

There are ways around it. Some programs like Mail.app create a file version for every database entry so that Spotlight can still pick them up. But my main point is that the current Scriv. is file based, and would require (what I am assuming would be) a fairly massive change in how it stores everything to get these cool things that Journler has.

But yes, I love Journler, too! I use it.

I hope you’re indeed completely wrong, but I doubt it. Foiled again by the limitations of the tech! I can certainly understand why KB would prefer to keep the stored RTF file format, despite the loss of core data’s flexibility. I suspect he’ll find some clever twists for the find/filter interface nonetheless.



To address some of these points…

First of all, Scrivener 1.0’s feature set is locked, so I won’t be considering new suggestions until after it is released - though of course I always welcome them. :slight_smile:

Smart folders are actually possible with non-Core Data apps, though a little more difficult to implement as I would have to do it all manually. I actually thought about Smart Folders for 1.0 but ultimately felt that they wouldn’t make that much sense in the new implementation. There is no longer a table view such as the one in the “Binder view” of SG, which is where you would expect to see the contents of a Smart Folder.

Whilst I appreciate that Smart Folders are very powerful and I have no doubt that more users will request them (and I may consider them for the future), Scrivener’s search feature is already quite powerful and will be even better with 1.0. I honestly don’t understand the comments about the poor filtering in the “Action” menu. The best way of filtering is through the search field in the toolbar. You can limit or expand the search using the search menu so that you only search by label, title, keyword or whatever.

Moreover, keyword searches (or tag searches in SG) are very useful. You can assign each document with keywords and then use the keywords HUD (as it is known in 1.0) to search for documents containing one or more keywords. Smart Folders are really just a way of saving these searches - a convenience - and will not make it into 1.0.

Not really sure what you mean by this. The easiest way of assigning previously created keywords is via the Keywords HUD. If you mean you would like keyword text fields to autocomplete while entering them, sorry, this won’t make 1.0 but I may consider it for a future refinement.

This will be available in 1.0 (and was an oversight in SG).

Um, why not just select all and use the Font panel? Anyway, Convert Draft to Default won’t make it into 1.0. You can choose to export or print in your preferred fonts; other than that you will have to make changes manually.

Two number fours? Anyway… I actually wasted several months of development time implementing a margin-notes system much like Jer’s, only to decide against it. Margin notes look good, and Jer’s is a great app, but long margin notes can scroll far away from the text to which they are connected. Thus, Scrivener will stick to inline notes. I am about to write a reply to the fullscreen thread about the way I see inline notes working, so you might want to check out my answer there…

I recommend you just use Nisus’s thesaurus. There is no way I am writing my own thesaurus!

  1. WikiLinks or auto detected doc links (Like Devonthink)

Other people have suggested this in the past, and I did consider it. However, I have decided against it. Scrivener is about drafting a long work, it is not about getting distracted by following various links and making your work into an interlinking web of documents - this goes against the grain of something destined for the most linear format of all: paper.

Honestly, for me, regarding smart folders I think I’m just used to a certain way of doing things and your use of filtering is an alternative. I’m used to having smart folders where my things are just ‘there,’ automatically filed away nicely. I can select my folder and there things are, altogether, without any further effort once I’ve assigned my key words, etc.

This is more dynamic, and requires me to add an extra step (establishing a filter), so I can see how I might get used to a different system that would accomplish the same thing.

So thanks for explaining.

I think autocomplete tags is exactly what you said—keywords autocompleting while entering. I hope you do consider it. It eliminates misspellings and is a convenience. I use abbreviations for keywords via TypeIt4Me which eliminates the possibility of misstyping something. Another way to accomplish the same thing, I suppose.

I think inline notes and annotations will also just take getting used to. Again, I’m just grateful we have/will have them.

My own request for linking would be to have the kind of links that I think are in the works for Scr.1. I do occasionally use them when doing research and I come across someone or something I want more information about. An instance of this: I was researching a book that referred to the concept of “American exceptionalism.” I created a link to another document that held other ways that concept had been used, when and how it was coined, etc. Very handy. And when writing fiction, I use them as well with a similar purpose, or sometimes to link to a character’s development page, whatever.

So am I correct that this will become possible in some fashion? I’m referring to this reply you posted:

“As for internal links… You will be able to add internal and external links to a list similar to the keywords list in the inspector in the next version.”

Thanks for being so patient with us! As you can probably tell, I’m pretty excited about this program. :slight_smile:


Thanks for the detailed reply: well above and beyond the call of duty. I trust you don’t find all this second guessing too annoying; like Alex (whose charming virtual self I know from the Devonthink forums) I’m very excited about Scrivener and I may sound like I’m getting a little of ahead of myself - not to mention of you and the rest of the reality-based programming community.

  1. If smart folders are too much of a pain, so be it. I can live without them as long as searching and filtering are fast, easy and efficient. Obviously I don’t know the design details of the new interface, so I shouldn’t second guess too early. What I hope to find is some implementation of complex searches using multiple criteria so that I could find some particular combination of label(s), keyword(s) tag(s) and text searches. I find that Journler’s interface for and/or accumulation of criteria particularly elegant, unified and Maclike. Quite frankly, I find the “filter table by…” menus elusive and difficult to apply where I want. Is it even possible to just filter the whole parent file or to use filter without combining it with a text search? Maybe it’s just me…

  2. I can envisage using a lot of tags. So Like Alex, I appreciate a bit of text autocompletability. mmm good.

  3. Very glad to hear notes will be exportable. Hip Hip…

  4. I meant that if you were going to keep "Convert Draft to default " I’d rather it didn’t convert everything . As a playwright I require some pretty variable formatting options, none of which should be applied throughout a whole draft. Is suspect this won’t be a problem beyond SGold.

  5. (apparently I’m a quadraphile!) Sorry you wasted several months and I can see your point about long margin notes. I guess I was thinking anything beyond a brief comment would belong in the notes rather than the margins. As an ex magazine editor, I have margin notes in the blood and being able to write “cut this down”, “factcheck” or “rubbish” in the margin where it belongs would have been nice (though as i thought, too much to ask.)

  6. Similarly the auto thesaurus was a bit of a whim. Most computer thesauri are for children: I’ve never seen one as complete and useful as the 4th international Edition Roget’s - and I suspect I never will. As far as I’m concerned it should be part of the operating system; I don’t blame you for balking at this.

  7. Links, however, are next to godliness for me. It’s less about creating an “interlinking web of documents” then about being able to find a note when and where you need it. Clicking on a linked word in the note panel to access a detailed character profile, thematic note or source at the right time need not be a distraction, just a quick reminder. If you write short stories in a simple, linear, chronological way you probably don’t need links. But long complex layered fiction or overcomplicated dialogic drama that uses bags of tricks, resources, effects etc. (my specialty!) is difficult to write without juggling a LOT of elements. Links help.

As I gather reams and reams of notes on an upcoming project, I often despair that I’ll be able to access the right note at the right time. I think not just in terms of “Drafts” but of “Threads” that run through a play - not just plotlines, but characters, themes, motifs, metaphors, single words even - all interwoven in complex ways toward a seemingly simple effect or end. That’s part of the promise of Scrivener for me: the ability to see a note not just as a single unit but as part of a “thread”. In other words I’m hoping it will allow me to look at (and EDIT!), say, all the scenes with a certain character, location or theme. All together. In the same window. So I can be sure that the tone flows, the language is consistent, the metaphors evolve. yadda yadda yadda.

I also think of some notes as “Tools”: rhetorical devices, lighting effects, gestures, stagings, bits of dramaturgy; and it’s good to keep that toolbox handy whenever I reach that inevitable “how the fuck are we going to do that?” moment each morning. Again links, searches, filters, notes; it ALL helps.

For many of us the romance of the blank page and the muse is only the tiniest part of the writing process - the rest is that 90% perspiration that involves juggling and judging a LOT of material while trying to produce something that looks simple, organic and inspired.

Just like good software.

Keep up the good work and thanks again for your patience.

Cheers to all,


Time to watch Deadwood.

Pardon the personal note, but damn, this is an interesting forum! I love that most if not all of those who participate here are honest-to-god writers! Of all shapes and sizes. Eiron’s post was a fascinating glimpse into what he does. I’ve only written plays while in the creative writing program at Columbia—a wonderful experience, but not something I’ve dealt with extensively. It’s an extremely opening experience to read and get a sense of how others work and how they write.

Sorry, I just had to say this. I hope this forum develops more and more along these lines. A place to talk about the program, and also about the way we use it as writers.


PS and amen to your last bit about the writing process. It’s for that 90% that we really need the help! And why we keep keep pursuing that Holy Grail!

Thanks for the kind words from nine time zones away, Alexandria. I realize my “process” is not shared by most writers and it’s nice to wake up to a note from someone who sympathizes. I imagine the fact that we both have creative and academic sides makes us sympatico.
I wonder if years of studying Shakespeare haven’t tainted my creative process. Sometimes I feel like I’m writing backwards: always half imagining some future student writing about “The use of illness metaphors in the later works of…” Definitely something to avoid like the plague.
Anyways, we’re off to Brittany for a few days (I’m having a deja vu here) and won’t be able to continue this discussion until next week.



At the moment, I would just say wait for 1.0 :slight_smile:. Scrivener 1.0 will be a very powerful program in its own right, but a number of suggestions here - which are very valid - won’t find their way into it. I think these suggestions are more of a “towards 2.0” thing, which is a while away. Right now, the main thing is to get a good application out there that will fit the creative writing process. I kindly ask you to hold off looking for the “gaps” and to look at the whole for a little while yet. Once you have used 1.0, it’s been thoroughly beta-tested and we have a release out there, then I think it will be time to start looking at all of these excellent suggestions. Obviously I’m not promising anything, but I do take all suggestions seriously. It’s just that for now I’m very focused on getting 1.0 out, which already has its feature set well-defined. I think most of you will like it, but I have no doubt that every user will have some suggestion from another program that they like. I have to balance all of those suggestions against what I think Scrivener is. Moreover, it will be a lot easier to make suggestions that will fit into Scrivener once you see how 1.0 acts. For instance, I quite like the idea of Smart Folders - but Scrivener 1.0 doesn’t act like many programs that have smart folders, so it will take a very smart user who has used 1.0 extensively to suggest an implementation that might actually fit.

Hope you understand.

Thank you for your feedback and ideas.

All the best,

Hi Keith,

Well, I guess having more users frequenting your forum is a mixed blessing, eh? :slight_smile: I don’t know about the others, but for me it’s as much just tossing ideas around as actually expecting you to do anything about them! I’m quite enjoying this exchange with other users/writers.

Also, I think it’s the same for some others, but for some time now I’ve been looking for a genuine ‘writing program’ that works the way I work, and has the kind of organizational structure I need to stay organized in an intuitive way—intuitive for me, that is. As many great programs as there are out there, none of them hit enough of the right points to really work for me.

Yours does. It’s that simple. It’s natural to miss some of the niceties of other programs, but for me at least, I’m becoming more and more comfortable in Scrivener. I don’t find myself getting frustrated and experimenting with other programs I have to see if maybe, this time, I can get them to work the way I need them to. I am just writing, which is of course the real goal in all of this!

So, with what you’ve already said about the Scrivener to come, I will try to temper my enthusiasm and eagerly await its arrival! :slight_smile:


I’d love to agree with my fellow Portlander and Devon=tee, Alexandria. Scrivener is the closest to The One I’ve found (and I’ve tried Mellel and Jer’s NovelWriter), but it’s missing one key feature for me: outlining. I thought I’d read somewhere that outlining would be included in the final version, but a forum search doesn’t turn that up. Apologies if I’m repeating any ground already covered.

I just tried Scrivener for writing a short journalistic piece, and maybe describing my workflow will help Keith figure out how at least one nonfiction writer would use Scrivener.

  1. take notes (usually clipped from a website or email) in DevonNote, and display my notes index in a window that shows me see several note titles as well as the contents of whatever note I click on. That’s the left half of the screen. The right half contains an OmniOutliner window, which I use it to …

  2. make a hierarchical list of points/scenes/whatever, and then organize them. (it’s great to be able to see various different levels of your structure, with and without the info that goes under them.)

  3. Then I export the OO document to TextEdit and write my story or essay out from the outline. Sometimes I’ll leave the OO outline up in that window, close the Devon window, and replace it with a TextEdit window, where I write the draft based on the outline.

So now I use three different apps for the 3 parts of my writing process: taking and organizing notes; outlining my story (based on the notes); writing my story (based on the outline). I suppose I can keep doing that, but it seems like it’d be easier to do it all in one app, especially one like Scrivener which has so many other nice touches (e.g. live word count, annotations) that writers can use. If Scrivener will let me do that, I’m likely to buy it.

Of course, this is just my way of doing things, and I wouldn’t want Keith to make the app harder for others who use it to write fiction or whatever. But if he thinks enough other users would benefit, I hope he’ll add the features I need:

  • easy hierarchical outlining (a la OO or even Jer’s NoverlWriter) that lets me display either the entire outline or only the outline points (at whatever level), not the info under them
  • easy ability to clip highlighted info (via a keyboard shortcut) from web pages or emails or pdfs and have them automatically appear as a note in Scrivener (Devon does a pretty good job of this, although it doesn’t let you assign a note to a folder when making the clipping).
  • ability to display any two different Scrivener windows side by side as described above.
  • Footnotes and comments, preferably that will survive translation into MS Word format. That way I could use Scrivener to also write my book, which requires exchanging annotated and footnoted files with an unreconstructed Word user.

So, I’m hoping that either Devon or SCrivener will adopt the outlining function; if not, I can keep using my slightly awkward three-app process. At the moment, as impressively thought out as it is, Scrivener doesn’t give me anything that I need and I don’t already have (in Devon and TextEdit), while it lacks a crucial feature, so I have no incentive to buy it yet.

We seem to have a high concentration of Portlanders here. :slight_smile: How fares the heat wave? I just about died today when it hit 108º Fahrenheit on the west side!

Anyway—Brett, unless something has changed, more solid outlining was definitely supposed to be a part of V.1. From the screenshot I saw months ago, it looked a lot more like OO in that content was mixed with the headers in its uncollapsed form; and I do believe some form of either truncation or collapsing was involved. It was hard to tell from the screenshot, and my memory fails me on precisely what it looked like.

I have given a lot of thought to the reduction of applications into One application that has 95-99% of what I need, but I have come to the conclusion that this really is not a realistic expectation—for my purposes at any rate. I also use a dedicated outliner, Tinderbox, for all of my story organisation and final editing. I find the ability to create typed links and dynamic hierarchies to be most useful. I can gather plot threads into a linear container so that they can be examined both in and out of the narrative flow simultaneously. This makes finding plot holes and narrative weak points very easy for me.

But, for my brain, Tinderbox stinks at creative writing, where Scrivener excels at it. There is no reason to expect Scrivener to ever match Tinderbox for its organisational features, nor can I expect Tb to ever match Scrivener for its ability to rapidly and intuitively collect things as they are being written/researched, in a format that is conducive to creative writing. So, I have resigned to the notion of using multiple applications with a high degree of speciality. I also use Boswell to archive everything in the end (never finding myself keen on DEVONthink’s philosophy), and occasionally TAO if I need a “pure” outliner for hashing out an article or something. Tb is great for some things, but it does not allow me to show both headers and content in the same outline. Oh, I also use VoodooPad, too, which might be strange since some consider it to be Tinderbox Lite. I just have wildly different moods, I suppose, and sometimes one application will really jive with that where another will not. I would rather have a set of applications that I am competent in, to match my moods, than trying to shoehorn my moods into a single application.

Brett is a Portlander too! And AmberV. That IS interesting!

It sounds like Brett has as similar way of working. Yes, I had read that the next generation Scrivener will have outlining. As much as I need, anyway. I for my part had also given up having a central program in which to do all my writing. But I really wanted one. :slight_smile: When I have an idea, I want to be able to reach for a program to make it happen and not have to think about it. Scrivener does it for me, I’m glad to say, or will with the new version. My outlining needs are modest, and the screenshot looks more than adequate.

I still have more to my ‘suite’ of software. DT Pro is still my workhorse/warehouse that holds all my research material and then some. I will likely keep it that way, using Scrivener to collect only the research items needed for whatever project I’m working on. DT is uniquely qualified as the grand collector of everything and I’m very happy with that aspect of it. I have thousands of documents in DT of all different kinds in three different dbs.

Mellel is still my word processor for large, complex projects involving lots of footnotes, heavy outlining (e.g., chapters with sections within sections), etc. MacJournal is my personal journal and blogger.

But for the rest of it, which is about 85% of what I do, I want one place to go. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just perfect enough.

That’s always been the problem with writing programs—they can never really fulfill each writer’s needs, since we all work differently and need different things. I think it’s great that the Mac now has so many options for folks like AmberV who want/need a great deal of diversity to match her moods! :slight_smile:

About that heat wave. You know, we had the opportunity to put central air in when we first got here (six years ago) and didn’t because I don’t like A/C and we thought we’d never need it for the few hottish days we seemed to have in Portland. Man, were we wrong! So last night we slept in the basement. And the A/C in my car is busted. I used to live in the south and I haven’t felt this kind of heat since then. It’s 7am and already almost 80. Unbelievable.

Stay cool!!!


Btw, in case you haven’t read already, the new Scrivener will also have a way to footnote and comment that will export to Word. Looks pretty interesting.

Thanks, Amber and Alexandria, for confirming something that I’ve been suspecting for awhile now: writing app monogamy probably isn’t realistic. (Maybe that was one of Word’s conceptual fallacies; in trying to do everything, it does nothing well and makes everything harder than it should be.) Not only does each writer differ in her needs, but our individual needs also vary depending on what we’re writing. What’s appropriate for journalistic articles may not work so well when dealing with a footnoted book, or the play I’m trying to write.

I agree that it’s exciting to have so many tools coming available for Mac writers. It’s been so nice not having to struggle with Word these past couple years, and it looks like either Scrivener, jer’s NovelWriter or Devon will make writing even easier soon.

I’m impressed that y’all have tried so many different apps and appreciate your passing on the advice. But I’d still like to keep the number as small as possible, just to simplify my process. At this stage of Scrivener’s development, Devon still seems irreplaceable for note making and organizing (although I’ve never tried Tinderbox – thanks for the tip), and I guess there’s no real reason that function needs to be in the same app as my outlining and writing program(s). Is there?

It sounds like my current system will continue to work fine for journalism, and I’ll impatiently await Scrivener’s “real” release, as I’ll be working on my book again starting in September. If Scrivener files will retain footnotes and annotations when exchanged back and forth with a Word user (i.e. Word footnotes would show up as footnotes in Scrivener and vice versa), I’m likely to try it for my book. I’ll try it for my journalism too, but at this point it’s hard to see how it’d improve the 3-app system I’m using now, though I’m happy to be enlightened by anyone on the forum.

I’d still like to urge Keith to adopt the features I suggested above if he thinks they’ll prove useful to others; that would cinch the deal for me. Also, are there any plans to create templates for script- and screenwriting, as in Pages? That would be enormously useful to me and, I suspect, quite a few creative writers.

As for the heat wave… normally, we Oregonians crave sunshine, but I was happy to see overcast as I strolled to farmer’s market this morning. A bit muggy, but not like yesterday. And before non-Northwesterners scoff at our whining, remember that many of us don’t have air conditioning; I lived in Oregon for a dozen years without it, and seldom missed it. but I just moved to a place that already had AC, and am I glad this weekend! The heat was one reason I left the south years ago, and I’ve acclimated to our usual chill here. And now, thanks to global warming, the heat is following me north! I think I’ll head for the coast today.

Hi Brett,

Yeah, those clouds, and a few raindrops here and there, really saved the day! Very muggy for the northwest. 50% is nothing down south, but around here it’s more than we are used to.

Just a note. I’m not sure that Scrivener will be able to go back and forth with footnotes and comments. I do know you will be able to export from Scr. to Word and have them show up properly in Word. My thinking how that would work is to create the drafts in Scr. then export and polish the monograph, whatever, in Mellel or Word. I don’t know if you can then go back to Scr. with the footnotes intact. Keith will have to fill us in there.

Stay cool!!


PS I think that is exactly where Word went so very wrong, and why it can be so obnoxious to use!