Increased number of user defined columns in Outliner

I’ve just started using Scrivener - currently trialling it but will definitely buy when my 30 days are up. I know that I haven’t fully got to grips with all its capabilities and haven’t properly sussed Keywords yet. But I’m really loving it. I write, produce tv shows and do some training and already I’m using it to draft the next thing I’m writing and also planning a one day training workshop on it. The ability to convert docs to folders and have several layers is brilliant. The corkboard and outline views amazing.

I have that ridiculous sort of brain that feels anxious about committing to paper/screen and will think of 1001 procrastinations to avoid it. Now I feel able to write stuff down in little chunks without worrying, and then shape them. It’s incredibly liberating. So big thanks.

My question/wish is for an increased number of user defined columns in Outliner view. I know that others have Wish Listed about Multiple Labels in the past and this is definitely in the same area, so apologies.

As I said I’m currently planning a Training Day I’m doing for new TV Researchers. I’ve made Labels into a column to show whether the sessions I’m planning are WHOLE GROUP, INDIVIDUAL WORK, SMALL GROUP etc (you get the picture) and assigned colours to the pins so I can see at a glance on the corkboard if I’ve got a balance of different types of activities across the day to keep their brains ticking over and to make the learning active. It’s a really great tool for lesson/workshop planning but I’m by no means a teacher so I’m kind of new at getting to grips with the whole “Learning Objectives” thing, but I want them to be actively involved and contributing in a variety of ways. There’s no column for duration so I’ve changed the Status column so that I can allocate timings to each session - it’s not ideal and there may be a more elegant way but I haven’t sussed it. But I’d also like to have a second status column so that I can tick off as I complete each session with Still to do, Started, Rough Draft, Completed - or that sort of thing.

I think, looking through the boards I’m not the only person using it for a variety of purposes, so although having word count and progress is great, it doesn’t work for me on this project where the number of words is irrelevant, but to be able to set the timings for each card 30 mins, 15 mins would be great, even better to be able to add them up, but I can do that myself.

I know that you can never make everyone happy, and that you’re working flat out. But if its on the cards for version 2 I’d be even more excited about parting with my cash when my 30 day trial finishes. :smiley:


Custom columns for the outliner is a suggestion that comes up from time to time, and I did consider it for 2.0 but I’m afraid it’s been pushed back. It’s a technical nightmare, for the following reasons:

  1. A user may want any sort of data in a column. So one user may want to enter text, another may want to enter a time that gets properly formatted as a time, another may want to enter numbers (with thousand separators, possibly with decimal places), and so on. So there would need to be an interface whereby a user could choose the data type and the format and so on, which is a massive job and very complicated.

  2. Some users may want text columns that have the rows auto-fit to the length of the text just like the synopsis column. This is already a hack (as the standard OS X outline view wasn’t built for this), so getting two columns to work like this and work out which one is the largest etc for each row would be problematic.

  3. From a UI perspective, the only place any of this data would appear is in the outliner, which goes against the current paradigm in which the outliner columns all represent data that is also available elsewhere, either in the inspector or in the editor. For it to work properly it would require a redesign of the inspector with a pane that can deal with the custom data.

Which is not to say “no”, just that it won’t make it in to 2.0 because of everything else that needs doing and the size of the job. It’s definitely something that remains on my list of things to add if I can find the right way of doing it, and after 2.0 I’ll certainly consider it again.

Hope that makes sense. Thanks for the kind words - glad you’re liking Scrivener otherwise so far.

All the best,

And on a further note for 2.0, something that has been announced as a coming feature is the ability to assign colours to keywords, and then display those colours on index cards in Corkboard view. You could potentially turn some of these meta-data forms you are talking about into keywords, and then have these keywords show up on the index cards visually, like multiple pins (though the metaphor is much better than that). You could use a range of blues for one set, and a range of greens for another set. This will elevate keywords to a new level of visibility in the application, and provide for a variety of interesting applications where “search and isolate” type activities can be performed much more rapidly with the Corkboard.

One way it would work is if the columns were text fields only - that is, if Scrivener didn’t try to apply a date or number format to the custom columns. This makes things easier to implement and easier for the user (date entry in Cocoa is notoriously horrible - you have to enter a date in the exact format the field expects, which may not be what is displayed). Custom text fields could still be used for dates, numbers or anything else, of course, with a little creativity on the part of the user to ensure sort works (columns in 2.0 will be sortable). For instance, dates could be entered backwards - 2010-01-12. Times could be entered in a standard 24 hour clock format - 00:45, 13:39. Numbers would be more difficult, as you would need to pad them with zeroes to keep them sortable (001, 013 etc).

Thank you to you both for getting back to me so quickly on this one.

Having a couple of additional Text only columns would be a brilliant help, and the idea of colour coding on the index cards via keywords sounds exciting too.

Amazing user support. Thanks so much.