[NB] New Compile Dialog WIll Sink You

The new compile dialog is even more complex and scary to new users than the old.

In what ways?

What suggestions would you make that would reduce that scariness?

Keep in mind it needs to be similar to Mac Scrivener 3 so folks who use both don’t have to learn two separate programs.

As someone who has used Scrivener (for Mac) since v. 1.0, who had managed to get Compile in v.2 to do what I wanted, though it required not only a lot of trial and error but also the development of several macros in Nisus Writer Pro—for which I needed extensive help from Martin of Nisus—so that my final document would have proper styles, and who was one of the beta testers for v.3 … moving from v.2 compile to v.3 compile (before the upgrade tutorial existed) was somewhat of a painful process.

And I made mistakes, for instance thinking I had to have a “Normal” style, since NWP uses that for body text. I spent a long time playing around with styles in the editor and styles in the compiler before I realised that “No Style” as set in Preferences/Options came out as “Normal” when the compiled document was opened in NWP; I imagine the equivalent is true for Word, but I don’t use Word so I’ve no problem with being told otherwise. But from the beginning, I could see the huge advantages of assigning “Section Types”—with their formatting defined in the Compile dialogs—to documents, as opposed to either creating a new compile preset to reflect the binder structure of a particular project, or massaging the binder structure of the project to fit an existing compile preset.

Early on in the beta process I posted a comment that I thought that the people who would find the new Compile difficult would be those like me who been able to bring the Mac V.2/Windows v.1.x Compile to work the way we wanted, as we would have to completely re-learn our thinking habits. People with no pre-conceptions of how Compile should work should find it easier than we had in wrestling with the old system.

I suspect that’s true … at least for the Mac version to date, as from what I read here Compile is not yet fully functional in Windows v.3 anyway. Apart from people who prefer not to check out the tutorial, or read the manual, or explore the interface fully, but would rather just come here and ask “How do I do this?”[1], I suspect that those who have straightforward requirements should find the new Compile very much more straightforward.

I can understand your feeling disheartened. From all your posts here, I know you’ve spent a lot of time and energy trying to get the output for v1.9.x Compile to output things the way you want, and now you’re faced with having to get to grips with a new system—just as I did—but believe me, it’s worth the effort. But newcomers don’t have anything to unlearn and the new system is far more flexible than the old.

It’s well worth the upgrade.



[1] viewtopic.php?f=2&t=51927&p=265027#p265027

1 Edit

Adding to Xiamenese’s comment, you could phrase it the other way around:

The new compile dialog is more scary and complex to old users than to new (users). :slight_smile:

I have an IT qualification, have 20 years of technical authoring behind me (you should see some of the authoring “tools” I had to use!) and I still find the new dialogue about as problematic as MS Word’s Numbers/Bullets system.

I also used to get paid to give detailed feedback on UI design and logic. So here is some free feedback.

What suggestions would you make that would reduce that scariness?

This is a word processing tool for authors. It really shouldn’t be something we have to come to grips with.

First, it was actually useful to be able to apply format according to position in hierarchy. It would be really nice if you restored that at least as an option.

By having 3 interlinked entities, you do offer more power. However, the UI makes their relationship hard to navigate, and most of us want to just compile our novels.

The main Compile window no longer has a Save button, so I can’t tinker and return without compiling. There’s no obvious way to create Section Types or Section Layouts in context - the little gear button takes me to Section Layouts, but I would expect to get their by a double-click or right-click.

The Assign Section to Layout window has the wrong title, since it is about Section Types. Title is also backwards, since from a user POV we are assigning Layouts to Section Types. There’s no button to create new types or layouts. The window appears too small, so you can’t see the list of options. Finally, it would make more sense as a table.

Overall this is not what one would expect in a writing app, which is a pity since the rest of the new Scrivener rocks.

EDIT: It’s just taken me an hour to tame this thing. For me it’s worth the effort, but I would have difficulty recommending Scrivener to my friends who don’t have a technical background, especially those in my middle aged demographic. You really, really need to test this on some users.

All my comments apply to the Mac version. I don’t know how close to that the current Windows beta is, but the Mac version is where things are headed.

You can apply section layouts based on position in the Binder structure. You can also do that as the default, and then assign different layouts only to sections that are “different” for whatever reason. This is probably the best approach for most people.

For the rest, there are very extensive tutorials for the Mac version, including an upgrade guide aimed specifically at Scrivener 2 users. These will become more and more useful as the Windows version converges to the Scrivener 3 target.


I’ll back up the developers (xiamanese) and others in that old users will find this daunting. It took me a good month to change over the way I was thinking. But i do believe, once a new user figures out and get’s a feel for how the interface works, and that’s actually many times quicker to learn in Scrivener 3 than in Scrivener 1/2, the it’s a lot faster, easier, and more useful than it was before. I think it could be even better like some of the previous posters here have argued, and once Scrivener 3 gets going for Windows, they could move focusing on making it better. But this is really leaps and bounds better than it was before.

I’m now a Mac user, and I’ve gotten used to the compile dialog. Things make sense now, and I agree with the others who say that it’s perhaps the transition from old to new that makes it seem complicated.

Used to? Not any more? That’s not very reassuring… :open_mouth:

Strangely, after many years, I managed to carve the “tech” part off “techwriter” and now don’t do any of that stuff any more. Shocking indeed.