Just finished the Survey--How about Wizards??

Just finished the survey–on my phone–and didn’t have a keyboard so I couldn’t write anything at length.

My suggestion is to make Wizards available for common (but at least in v.3.0) complicated tasks, like compile. Wizards are small programs designed to complete a single specialized task, like printing (printing is not an issue with Scrivener.) If L&L isn’t interested, perhaps an API would make this possible.

(Example: here’ s a legal Wizard to create a pleading template:
–name of court
–division of court
–name of plaintiff
–name of defendant
–case number
–paper size (A4 v. letter)
–Title of document
–Certificate of Compliance
–Certificate of Service
–Signature Block

…would make drafting legal documents in Scrivener a lot easier. TBH, at this point, I’d have to try to do it in Compile, and that’s not going to happen.)

(Note: some of these might frequently change; others might change rarely. Once the fields were populated, they wouldn’t change until the next document)

If legal documents are too esoteric, isn’t the novel template missing:

–half title page
–title page (with some choices, like you might find in scrbook or the LaTeX memoir class manual)
–chapter heading style
–index (not generate it, just a placeholder)
Or does this already exist and am I missing something?

Neither of these suggestions require adding to Scrivener’s feature set but make the program more usable.

Apparently Scrivener’s perceived complexity is a problem–at least, this is the impression I was left with by the survey, which had many questions addressing the complexity issue. Wizards would be one way to solve this problem and this perception. As far as I know, Scrivener currently doesn’t use Wizards at all.

I was a heavy user of Scrivener 2.xx but since the 3.x upgrade, not so much. Compile is a serious pinch point and while I know it was designed to make things easier, it has not. There is question after question on the Mac forum about compile issues. I avoid compile issues by not compiling, or compiling to 12 point double spaced .docx Courier. Which leads to a less frequent use of Scrivener.

I’m not sure I understand how your example pleading “Wizard” would differ from the existing Template functionality.

Given the number of different writing tasks out there, it’s not practical for us to create templates (or Wizards, or Compile Formats) for all of them, but the whole point is that if you do it once you can then reuse the template or Compile Format as many times as necessary.


I don’t even see a pleading template. You don’t have to (and I think it would be impossible) create Wizards for all types of writing. The survey suggests strongly that perceptions of complexity is a problem for L & L. Wizards are one way to address this issue without changing the underlying program. Creating API’s make it possible for third-parties to create Wizards for their beloved pet projects, e.g. a railroad schedule template, just to pick one idea out of the air. It can be easier (if that is your goal) to fill in a brief Wizard to populate template fields than going on a search to find the blanks in a template.

And then there’s Compile. A Wizard for Compile would meet the objections of those (just flaneur through the forums and look at all the questions) like me who find v3.0 difficult.

These suggestions are not feature requests along the lines of, “Hey Keith, why not do this?” Your survey cost money and was initiated because you have concerns. I am trying to address at least a few of those concerns based on my experience as a long-time (over 10 years) Scrivener user.


I keep trying to post images…

Thank you for the clarification.


Your example looks just like a document template; just a starting point for new documents in the binder, with lines for Circuit Number, etc… It looks very similar to the example “Character Sketch” document template included in the novel project template.

Is your suggestion that they distribute Scrivener with project & document templates specific to the legal professions? Or is that example just a side-suggestion, and not the main point of your suggestion, re: Wizards?

I think – please correct me if I’m wrong, pseingalt – that the specific request is for a tool to take the items listed in the screenshot and automatically populate a larger template accordingly.

The best way to do something similar in the current version of Scrivener would probably be with a series of Find/Replace commands, replacing template-supplied variables with user-supplied values.

Treating it like a Character Sheet would work if all the required information went into a single document, but if it’s scattered throughout it would be much more difficult.


So, like some kind of project-level custom substitution variables (like “custom metadata,” but not reliant on each document to have them populated)? Or how one can use a project’s Replacements tab (as seen in version 3’s compile window–the one on the right side) to accomplish similar with your own made-up substitution variables?

The thrust, in line with your survey, was to suggest the creation of Wizards to address what you feel, at least as suggested in the survey, is the public’s perception that Scrivener is difficult.

A legal Wizard is just one example of how a Scrivener Wizard might appear and work. A Compile Wizard is an obvious target. “Find and Replace” isn’t helpful because, like in the Novel template, the information to populate the Front Matter is buried.

So the suggestion is for you to use Wizards to address your complexity concerns. It’s not a feature request.

At some point people have to learn how to use the program, fam.

There were many questions concerning perceived complexity in the survey. Often there is more than one way to accomplish a task in a program. Using Wizards does not add to a program’s feature set but makes the program more accessible. Consider them Quick Start devices. Or even training wheels. Since they are written by people who have an in-depth knowledge of the program is supposed to work, they can be very helpful. Browse the forums and look at all the questions concerning Compile. You can say, “they should learn the program” but in many cases these questions are asked by experienced users.

Compile IS a wizard. You just fill in the things you want and the program fixes the layout.

If it were only that easy! You see anything in the diagram for running headers? I don’t. Maybe it’s there–buried somewhere.

But Compile is just one example of a Wizard.

This is patently false. Wizards don’t just appear out of nowhere – they take time and effort to program, debug, and maintain. They are features just like any other feature – simply features aimed at the user, not at the output.

Wizards help users access a program’s feature set. Part of my suggestion was creation of an API that would permit 3rd party plug-ins to address the issue. If you want to call them an additional feature, go ahead. No one is saying that they appear out of nowhere; I never suggested that. If you looked at the survey, several of the questions concerned a simplified or dumbed down feature set of Scrivener so as to deal with complexity perceptions. Rather than create a simplified Scrivener, my suggestion is to use Wizards for the most common complexity friction points, such as compile.

The complexity issue was raised by L & L and presumably they had good reason to do so.

There are already several kinds of wizards, like the Placeholders. Adding more of this wouldn’t make it easier but more difficult to find what you want. And trickier for the developers to maintain them.

Running header? In the Mac manual the details are found in section 24.20 of the manual, Åage settings, and header text in 24.20.6, Header and footer text.

The problem with simple wizards is that they have to be made for one kind of output. So there would have to be different compile wizards for creating ebooks, pdf, .docx, etc.

Well yes, it is. Either providing an API to support user-created Wizards or creating them ourselves would require significant development time. Whether you choose to call them a “feature” or an “interface enhancement” or even a form of “documentation,” they represent work that someone has to do above and beyond maintenance of the status quo.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but that’s why it’s important to clarify exactly what the request is.


The fundamental challenge, though, for this or any other attempt to “simplify” the Compile command, is that compiling is an inherently complex task. Every sub-genre of writing, and often every individual publisher within a sub-genre, has its own unique requirements. For the hypothetical “pleading” wizard, for instance, will the same format work for all fifty states and all federal circuits? What about courts in other countries? What about moot courts and other educational settings?

The problem very quickly becomes impossible to handle in an automated way, which is why we’ve come down on the side of providing tools that allow users to create their own templates and Compile formats, designed for their individual requirements.


There is no request. I don’t care whether you create them or not. Your survey addressed perceived complexity, among other issues. Presumably you had a reason to do so. I suggested one way you could deal with that issue without having to create a “simplified” Scrivener. How you deal with that issue and whether you continue to believe it important is up to you.