inspector drawer

I know there are some out there who regard the OS X drawers with fear and loathing, but I think there’s a good argument for Scrivener’s inspector opening in a drawer.

For instance, I’m now trying to jot down some notes from a research PDF. Every time I open the Inspector to take a note, the intrusion of the inspector pane obscures part of the PDF. Yes, I can widen Scrivener, but then I’ve got to reset it if I’m not going to look at a whole lot of wasted space while working on text.

Maybe someone has already argued the case and got pelted with tomatoes. If so, I couldn’t find the thread. It’s something I, for one, would welcome.


The problem with drawers is that they require more screen space to be efficient. Users (like me :slight_smile: ) who work on an iBook or Powerbook or any Mac with 1024x768 screen resolution can not fit much more on their screens I dare say. So personally I would argue against drawers.

best regards :slight_smile:

But do they? Currently I open the Inspector and cover up half the document I’m trying to make notes on. To address the problem, I need to manually make Scrivener wider, then smaller again when I dismiss the inspector.

With a drawer on a small screen (I use a 12" Powerbook hooked up to a 20" monitor, so i know what you mean), the main window resizes to accomodate the drawer within the screen space, and then resizes of its own accord when you dismiss the drawer. This seems to me to be a better option than the rigidity of the current setup - and one of the few examples of where a drawer really could work.

The nub of the matter is that I’d prefer my main text to remain static, and everything else to move around it. That’s where a drawer would come in handy.

Why don’t you just use the “Fixed Width” option in the general prefs?

Show me a single modern Mac app that uses a drawer. :slight_smile: Note that even Mail 2.0 dropped the drawer - not a single Apple app uses one any more. Drawers are going the way of the Dodo, I’m afraid…

On my dock, Devonthink (for the classify and “see also” functions), Omniweb (tab thumbnails) and OmniOutliner Pro (hoisted outlines and search). Depends on your definition of “modern”, I guess - these haven’t had a major UI workover since last year. :smiley: Voodoopad took away drawers and then returned them again (as an option) after a hue and cry from the users.

In all the above cases, the drawer works exactly as the Sc. Inspector could - slides out to give access to non-essential information without interfering with the core workflow.

I think the Drawer Mafia recently took a shot at OO’s use of drawers, but the Omni people responded that drawers have their place. Which they do. Methinks that the current anti-drawer sentiment is a fashion, just as the drawer mania that had the Mail 1.0 mailboxes in a drawer was a fashion. Scrivener shouldn’t be beholden to fashion.

I do, and love it. But it doesn’t resolve the fact that the inspector intrudes on the workspace, rather than appearing decently off to the side.

If not a drawer, an option for a detached floating panel?

Nisus Writer Express/Pro … :smiley:


That right there is key. To many of us, the information held in the Inspector is essential information that is integral to the core workflow. In most of my projects, the Inspector never closes. It is as much a part of the interface as the Binder is. If I do not want the Inspector, or anything else, that is what Full Screen is for, for me.

The reason VoodooPad’s attempt to dispense with the drawer failed is not because drawers were the right solution, but because the free-floating palettes were a clumsy way of replacing it. With one pad open, it’s one thing, but if you had a lot of pads open using universal palettes, it got very messy.

A free-floating Scrivener palette would suffer from the same problem. Say you have two projects open and you need access to both Notes panes at once. With the current system, that is no problem. With a palette, you can only view one project’s meta-data at once. This is precisely what made VoodoPad’s palettes a mess to work with. I would suggest it would be even more of a mess with Scrivener, given the type of data in the Inspector. The only solution is to have multiple palettes, and that is even more messy. That is so messy you don’t even want to go there in a prototype.

So, an attached info viewer is really the only way to intelligently handle things in Scrivener. Drawers have problems, especially for people that have them open constantly. And, in the end they really defeat the purpose you are going for. There is more pixel “apparatus” necessary to display a drawer, than a split. Both are going to “cut into the workspace.”

I should clarify: I meant Apple apps rather than third party apps. Apple are phasing them out. I don’t really like drawers much anyway. The main problem I have with them is that they waste space - there is space above and below them through which you can see the desktop, and a massive border all around it. The inspector already uses every pixel of space possible. Personally, I think a drawer off the side of Scrivener would be hideous and a massive step back. There will be no drawer. :slight_smile: In fact, as much as I like OO’s interface, I think it would be hugely improved if the drawer was disposed of in favour of a Mail-style source list which could be hidden. Just my opinion.

As for an “optional floating palette” - that made me laugh. :slight_smile: It made me laugh because of the innocence in putting forward something that would involve reams and reams of code to make it “optional”. Anyway, like AmberV, I don’t think a floating palette really fits Scrivener’s inspector. They are great for tools that are used across documents, such as the ones in Mellel, Word or Photoshop, but not for holding project-specific information.

And whilst I welcome all feedback, it is worth bearing in mind that I spent a lot of time thinking about, designing and prototyping the interface of Scrivener. In fact, I even built my own floating palette system from scratch because at one point I was playing with that idea. In practice, it was not practicable. And if you download Scrivener Gold, you will see that in Compose mode, the inspector is contained in a drawer. So, all of these things were tried and rejected.

As for a drawer being better because it expands and contracts… Well, I can only see this being an argument if you don’t have “Fixed width” set, as someone else pointed out. In that case, your text will change width. But with Fixed width set, that doesn’t happen, so I’m not sure of why it is an issue. Why do you need to see the desktop beneath?

At any rates, there will be no step backwards to a drawer, and no floating palettes. Scrivener’s inspector will not change.

All the best,

All points I hadn’t considered in what I thought was my bullet-proof argument. Lucky I’m not a software developer. Time to beat a tactical retreat, and to learn to love the inspector in always-on mode.


I have to say that actually, I agree with you Keith in terms of Scrivener. I don’t think a drawer would enhance it in any way.
I think for other apps it can be different. I think Nisus implementation of the drawer is great, as it holds a plethora of palettes which would be a nightmare on the desktop. That said, I guess it doesn’t need to be a drawer; it’s just that that’s what I’m used to having been using NWE since before it was NWE. The same goes for the drawers in OmniWeb, OmniGraffle and OmniOutliner … it wouldn’t actually make any difference to me if they switched to the Mail-style areas, like your binder (as long as OW doesn’t lose its vertically oriented graphic tabs!). The drawers are just what I used to … in fact, I never close them anyway.
No, stick with the current interface; it’s great.
PS Unless you know more than we do, what about Pages for a drawer on a modern app by Apple!

:laughing: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing:

I feel the urgent need to add that to me, Scrivener’s user interface is exactly how it should be: You can have a bunch of information at once while you’re about to construct the story, the order of scenes etc., and you can put all away except what hopefully will become your immortal prose once you’re ready to write. I especially love the inspector as it is.

MacJournal also uses a drawer, a couple of them in fact. Which works fine for MJ. Not an Apple app, so I know Keith didn’t mean programs like this. But my point is that drawers can work or not work. In Scr., it would change the whole interface and personally, I love the inspector pane just as it is. I have a 12" ibook and I keep the inspector open at all times while writing. It never even occurs to me to do otherwise, since I never feel cramped and I like having my notes panes, binder, etc, available. If I need a distraction-free environment, I can always use Scr.'s great full screen features. That’s just me, of course. Just tossing in my two cents!!


I always had the opposite opinion on MacJournal! :wink: I thought its double-drawer look was hideous, and since I always had them open, whenever I saw the application I couldn’t help but think of a pilot’s double-wing badge.

Oh, and Re: OmniOutliner. I would not be at all surprised if OO4 uses a pane instead of a drawer. Check out some of the screenshots of their upcoming OmniFocus application. It uses a pane to hold information that is roughly similar to what OO3 holds. They have stated that the technology basis for OmniFocus is based on the OO4 code base, but that probably does not mean much beyond the actual outline rendering routines.

Well, I guess the aesthetics of MJ don’t bother me so much. I actually really love MJ. There is something very clean and simple about it that works well for me for my personal writing. I keep the drawers open at all times for navigation. Don’t see the pilot’s wings, but hey, different strokes! :wink:

As for Pages… Don’t get me started. :slight_smile: The interface is strangely old. The pin-striped toolbar! On a modern Apple app? I reckon the next version of Pages - which will no doubt be ready for the Leopard release - will change things dramatically.

And as AmberV says, I also think OO will change their interface to fit with the more modern look. And I wouldn’t mind betting that Dan Schrimpf will be doing something similar to MacJournal in the near future. If you think of all of the other applications that had drawers - Mail, Mori and so forth - I think the others will change, too. the iApps and Mail have kind of set the precedent there. A lot of the problem was that Apple was never really very specific on their GUI guidelines for drawers. At first they said it was for optional info - which fits perfectly with the way most none-Apple apps use them, such as DT and Nisus. But then they used a drawer for Mail and said they could be used for source lists, too - MacJournal took the cue from that, as did Hog Bay Notebook (the precursor of Mori). Then, with Tiger, Apple changed their minds and started playing with the GUI all over the place. I think with Leopard - as many have hinted - we will see a more integrated interface again. I hope.


Interesting. I had the thought that MJ may change too. I’ll like that as well! I am not totally immune to aesthetics by any means, but drawers don’t seem to bother me. Maybe I like that retro look! :slight_smile:

Yes, come to think of it, I seem to remember a comment from someone from Omni in the OO Forum, in response to a thread about when OO4 will be out, saying that there are going to be changes making it more like OmniFocus. So OG5, OW6? … They’ve also revamped their forum default to a more modern look.
As for Pages, I really dislike it too and only use it in emergency when there is a document that neither NWP nor NeoOffice can handle.
Like Dr Alex — for which many congratulations! — I don’t actually mind drawers; I think it’s because — and I surprise myself in saying this — the aesthetics don’t impinge on me, it’s the content that I am aware of.
I am wondering though, if Nisus, for instance, switched to a pane rather than a drawer, how I would feel about a narrow pane on the right. In all the apps with panes that I use regularly, e.g. Yojimbo, GyazMail, the main pane is on the right, the lists, whatever are on the left. On the other hand, where an app, like Nisus, Pages, Tables, has a drawer for e.g. styles, or uses floating palettes, the drawer is on the right or the palettes are off to the right. Putting floating palettes on the left just doesn’t feel good. And it strikes me very forcibly as I write this, that in spite of being a dedicated user of styles and style-sheets, I have never made good use of the styles in OOPro … maybe because the drawer where you select them is on the left and should be on the right for me.
Hmm … maybe I should raise this on the OO forum.
That said I just have the feeling that I’d find a single pane to the right would be aesthetically uncomfortable where a drawer is not, perhaps because of its lower level of integration with the main window. On that score, I have no problem with Scrivener, in fact the Scrivener UI feels absolutely right, as it is balanced with panes to left and right and the working area in the middle.
Just some thoughts.