Keith, go and write your novel

Scrivener is possibly the single most useful app I’ve come across, and certainly amongst the most stable (up there with Mellel), and Keith is superhumanly responsive to us users.

And here’s the inevitable ‘but’…

I think Keith should stop adding stuff for the moment. It’s getting complicated and while it’s certainly not bloatware, for me, it’s getting a sort of functional bloat. The amount of sheer stuff I can do is becoming overwhelmingly - any more, and it’ll be too much. Enough already.

Plus of course, I’m betting programming, while less of a total head-f*ck than novel writing (both of course are world-class mindbenders), isn’t what he really wants to do…

I’m getting a little concerned myself about Scr. becoming too ‘busy.’ There are some changes that I think are about keeping Scr. ‘modernized’ and up-to-date, like the binder issue. There are others that are just about more features, and I too worry a bit about it becoming a bit bloated. It’s already packed-full of features and allows users to do all kinds of writing in ways that they can tailor for themselves. I guess I want to second spinningdoc’s sense that things are getting a bit too complicated or perhaps even bloated–what I would call too ‘busy.’ I’m starting to get that feeling too.

Thanks spinningdoc for mentioning this. I probably wouldn’t have said anything otherwise.


I agree that bloatware is a danger, and that KB should have more time to enjoy life, if that means writing a novel, or else fixing up his new house. But as I understand his recent query to us, about the source list format in the Binder, he’s just trying to keep Scrivener in line with new GUI elements in Leopard. Which he can’t fully discuss, hence we’re in an awkward contretemps at the moment, of “advising” about stuff that we don’t fully understand yet. It’s important for a product not to look or feel out-dated. As many users of DevonThink have noted, it has UI problems and presents new users with much conceptual confusion. So KB as developer and sole architect of Scrivener has to avoid that situation. I don’t see the change he’s currently envisioning as bloat.

It’s not so much what’s currently in the works, it’s more that while using forums to develop software is a brilliant, responsive and marketing-sussed way to go, user demands are never, ever sated and one request always leads to another.

Keith’s pretty good at saying no, but a lesser developer could end up adding and adding and adding stuff till it was a vast barely coherent beast pleasing virtually no one (MS Word, I’m looking at you…)

I’ll take the opposite side. Given Keith’s statements about what he wants Scrivener to do, I doubt he would allow it to become bloated. He seems always to be trying to give us tools that will make our jobs easier by making Scrivener more capable.

Maybe I see things this way because I have fun learning as much as I can about my software and enjoy finding new ways to adapt it to my various needs. In any case, each user would be free to use only those features he needs, and to ignore the rest.


I agree with Miles, as long as those features are not in your face. That is probably the biggest difference between “bloat” and “usefulness.” It is possible to have an application with many times the features that Scrivener has, without being bloated. It is also possible to have an application with fewer features than Scrivener, and be bloated. Bloat is an equation between feature count and presentation, not just feature count by itself.

Personally speaking, DEVONthink definitely strides the bloat line because it presents its features in an intimidating way. This is part of what creates the “off” feeling its UI has.

On the other hand, an application like Pre-CS series Photoshop which could do nearly anything with an image that you could possibly imagine, and about ten thousand things you’ll never imagine in your lifetime, did not feel particularly bloated to me. Ever since CS came out, they have lost that UI vision, and their software has become much more bloated as a result.

A Scrivener example: Screenplay feature. I’m probably never going to use that feature outside of testing it for knowledge so I can write an informative FAQ. Does the fact that Scrivener has scripting controls built-in get in my way of my ordinary usage? Never. I forget it is there half the time. That is a classic example of providing usefulness without bloating the app.

I think perhaps the one area where Scrivener is starting to look a little cluttered is the preferences panel. But you know, you either have choices or you do not. I’d rather have the choices and put up with a little clutter in the preferences panel (which I only see rarely anyway). But I know this is one area where information density is high, because even after all of this time of using Scrivener, I still sometimes come across a preference I had no idea even existed! To reiterate, I wouldn’t change that though. I like that I have these options. I’ve used other programs that just force themselves on your workflow, and to date none of them are on my hard drive anymore. That says something (whether it says something about me or the software, I don’t know, probably both).

So as long as things remain “hidden until used,” I don’t have a problem with Scrivener’s incredibly massive feature set.

To support Amber’s comment: I loved Scrivener as a beta, but really couldn’t use it for my daily work until Keith added screenplay mode. Now, I use Scrivener daily – Keith’s willingness to respond to his users (in a smart, measured way) opened up the Scriv world to me.

I think the benchmark for new features needs to be: Does this function help writers write? If so, I’m for it. If it’s a function that helps writers to, say, design? Not so much.

Also, while I’m at it, I think one of Keith’s primary strengths in designing Scrivener is that he is willing to cede certain features to other apps. He lets Scrivener be Scrivener, and DevonThink be DevonThink, and Final Draft be Final Draft.

So, then, another benchmark: If another app does it better, leave it out of Scrivener. I’d much prefer that Keith spent his coding time making Scriv to play nice with OS X other apps – resisting the Gates-like need to bloat his software with watered-down versions of his competitor’s stuff (I’m looking at you, Microsoft Word!)

To be honest, had Keith simply decided that full screen mode was too much, I would have been fine with simple integration with WriteRoom. That’s probably a bad example, but you get the drift.

I could copy Alexandria’s post to express my own impression.


Lol, I will remember that next time you make a suggestion, Maria. :wink:

Don’t worry, not much else is getting added. The main concern at the moment is just getting it consistent with Leopard; I don’t want it to look out of date to those updating, and I have to make sure it works on the first day Leopard is released (it does already).

The main thing holding up the next release is only my own tardiness in updating the Help file - I hate writing the Help file. Nearly there, though, and then I’m spending the summer using Scrivener.

Thanks, though. :slight_smile:


Yes, that is why I made the distinction I did in my post. I agree. I was referring to adding new features, not this recent issue with the Binder.