need for help/tutorial for S

"I’m sure this will all be very clear when the HELP function is operating. I guess it’s a point I have made previously. This beta is not as intuitive as you and AmberV seem to think. I urge you to consider this issue of intuitiveness. You are constructing software for which there is no other true analogy. It is new! It is truly wonderful, but exposure to other word processors and other note taking applications is not a training platform for Scrivener. Your market will not admit they can not understand some of these functions. They will turn to the simple, intuitive applications that allow them to do their work with ease and without embarrassment.

from Lord Lightning i think.

my comments:

i am sorry, very sorry, but i find S very user-unfriendly and i say this as someone who is committed to try to make S/SG work for me after trying, for a week, most of the alternatives, e.g., ulysses, smultron, jer’s novel writer, z-writer, copywrite, et al.

specifically, a few examples:

there is no help/tutorial to help with non-intuitive aspects, e.g., switching between outliner and edit scrivenings (which button “should” logically be next to outliner and corkboard)

there are fewer onscreen buttons to utilize than in SG, specifically split views

how to create a note is a mystery and/or difficult

unless i am doing something “wrong” it takes me several keystrokes to get back into edit scrivenings mode/window from outliner

double clicking on file in binder does not open edit scrivenings window/view, which is, after all, the window people will be wanting to spend most of their time in

please understand that i have tried now, on several occasions, to decode S. it took me 5 minutes to “get” and love SG. although it is probably me and not just S, i think there is a possibility that others are also finding S a steeper learning curve than SG and, i suspect, even with full knowledge of its workings, more complex. at any rate, i shall, for time being, until there is a tutorial/help resource, stick to SG.

as i said several times earlier, i plan on purchasing S if for no other reason than my desire to express my gratitude for SG

i am very sorry to write this but my guess is that you’d rather hear it than not. i am quite prepared to be convinced that the problem is me and would love to learn how to use S. right now, the effort is daunting and frustrating.

thanks so much for all your effort

rich ratzan

Hi Rich,

I understand and appreciate that there may be a learning curve (and I’m sure Lord Lightning will well agree with you). I am genuinely sorry and sad that Scrivener does not seem intuitive to some people. However, it may help if you approach it as a new application rather than as a program that is similar to SG - it is a different beast altothether. And do remember that you can always stick to SG if you prefer it. Right now, help is thin on the ground. I cannot write a full Help file until I am closer to a final release, and this may occasionally mean that users are left with nowhere to go. This is, unfortunately, the way it often is with beta software - especially with beta software written by one person alone.

Split views will be much more intuitive with beta 2. There are buttons to control them.

This I don’t really understand. Hit the green “+” button and you have a new note. Please let me know what your actual difficulties are so that I can help.

I believe (hope) the tutorial covers this. “Edit Scrivenings” is a rather unique mode. If you leave this mode, you will have to set it up again.

No, it doesn’t. Edit Scrivenings is called by hitting the keyboard shortcut or the button in the toolbar once you have selected the documents you want to use.

Sorry you are finding SG difficult. I hope beta 2 will be a little more intuitive.

All the best,

Just to clarify, when you refer to “edit scrivenings,” are you meaning the process of opening a document and editing it, or the feature which allows you to combine several documents together into one temporary session? The latter is the correct definition for the term. Edit Scrivenings is a special mode that lets you edit many files at once, as if it were one long document. You say most people will want to spend most of their time in Edit Scrivenings, and I am not sure that is the case. If you spend most of your time working in a combined view, then there ceases to be any practical purpose in having discrete chunks. You might as well just keep it all in one longer document.

Although, for people coming from Jer`s, I might see how that would take some getting used to, conceptually.

Keith, we all know that Scrivener’s doing a specific range of things that doesn’t really have an established UI model, so I think there’s bound to be some confusion, and you’ll never please everybody. But…

Firstly: would you consider an alternative name for “Edit Scrivenings”? It sounds too generic for what it actually does – I initially thought it was simply a way to get back into “text editing mode” from any other mode.

But I think the source of Rich’s problem (correct me if I’m wrong, Rich) is that the current toolbar model – with autonomous toolbar icons for “Edit Scrivenings”, “Corkboard”, “Outliner”, etc – has no way of indicating that a couple of these buttons (Corkboard, Outliner) both toggle between text-editing mode and their respective modes, while others, such as “Edit Scrivenings”, perform an additional operation that’s based on a selection in the Binder that needs to be made within the text-editing mode. Meanwhile, text-editing mode never has an icon – you can’t use the “swap the icons on click” visual-toggling approach to toolbar icons, because you’ve got more than two modes.

To summarise: the biggest source of confusion is that two toolbar icons help you switch between three modes (text-editing, corkboard, outline), without adequate visual feedback of state.

The “View” tabs in SG were a lot clearer, but back then the Draft mode was nowhere was flexible as “Edit Scrivenings” currently is, so I know you can’t just resurrect that. And the new icons do look sexy. But what about this for an approach to the toolbar (where the first bracketed item is that SG-style tab thingy):

[ Edit Text | Corkboard | Outline ] [Edit Multiple] [Add] [Delete] [Inspector]

So the first three choices are clearly mutually exclusive and modal, with a hightlighted state, while “Edit Multiple” (i.e. the current “Edit Scrivenings”) obviously isn’t a “mode” in the sense of the first three, and yet can behave exactly as it currently does – greyed out in Corkboard and Outline mode. Unfortunately this solution would require new icons…


Damn, Maria reminded me about splits holding different modes (which I never do), so my comments about mutually exclusive modes don’t hold – it’s just too flexible! Or perhaps the highlighted state of the View tab selector changes according to which split has focus. Or is that against the whole spirit of such widgets?


Hi Keith,

Our very wonderful AmberV put me to the test and I found I had to explain how I work with Scrivener. It was just what was needed because I then realised just how flexible Scrivener could be. It really does cater to idiosyncratic ways of working (thanks AmberV).

When I was able to send a jpg to AmberV and an explanation of how I used Scrivener it made me think that perhaps those of us who are using it every day to do our work could perhaps offer a screengrab and a short explanation to help others develop their own methods for using the application. It would just require Keith making available an email address we could post to and he could pop the postings to an appropriate thread so everyone could see them. It might also open a discussion and even suggest things that could go into the HELP function when it comes along. As the betas develop it would become more and more refined (I think).

Is that feasible? I am aware of the web site constraints in posting jpgs at the moment. Email is possible though.

I’m all for idiosyncratic - it runs in my blood.


Hi Maria,

You could use dummy script. I would use the old Lorem Ipsum stuff if I wanted to make a point and yet not reveal my work. It is just to show how different people use Scrivener in different ways. Maybe to make a point one could use Lorem Ipsum AND pieces of real stuff together. A screen grab is not all that large. You don’t need to reveal the whole script only as much as you feel is needed to make your point. It would also show others how you might be solving actual writing problems. For example, the text I sent to AmberV illustrated that I was comparing two chapters and at the same time changing present tense filmic tense into past tense novel tense while at the same time using a master template in Notes to keep my writing on target. I think people would find that sort of nitty gritty writing stuff quite interesting.

What is Lorum Opsum. It’s just Latinate filler text. Here’s an example: Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Fusce mauris lectus, sodales vitae, fermentum in, pulvinar at, neque. Aenean ligula. Maecenas a nisl porttitor sapien facilisis tristique. Etiam condimentum bibendum lorem. Maecenas magna. Etiam et quam. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Donec nisi nisl, semper nec, pulvinar a, nonummy eu, mauris. Duis ut purus. Morbi et ipsum a turpis tincidunt tempor. Quisque accumsan arcu. Integer blandit, mi ut gravida egestas, ligula nisl mollis dolor, vel varius mauris arcu sit amet diam. Integer vel pede nec nulla nonummy ultrices. Cras diam tellus, fermentum sit amet, molestie quis, consectetuer rutrum, erat. Vestibulum nibh purus, aliquet id, bibendum tincidunt, rhoncus aliquam, mi. Sed magna massa, ornare ut, interdum ut, ornare sit amet, eros. In elementum eleifend sapien. Donec tincidunt. Nulla facilisi. Donec nunc justo, blandit at, lacinia ac, aliquet quis, sem.

Okay, first off please forgive me if this message seems short at any point, as I really want to get on with some work on Scrivener today and there have been a lot of messages to deal with overnight, but I want to try to deal with all of these points as best as I can:

Firstly, a general comment: I spent a [i]lot[/] of time designing the interface. I spent months thinking about and sketching out how it would all work together. So whilst I am happy to hear suggestions and can understand that things will not be immediately intuitive to everybody, my answer on some of these things will sometimes be “no” simply because I truly believe that the way things are in many of these areas is already as good as it can be. I will try to explain why.

Don’t know about that. I really like the name. :slight_smile: The idea is that each chunk of text is a “scrivening” and you are editing more than one, so I think the name fits. Also, you say you “initially” thought this - I bet after the first time you tried it you never thought that again. This is one of those things that you have to try see what it does, but once you do it is very obvious.

I disagree - I think there is an enormous amount of visual feedback. If you have a lot of index cards on the screen with a corkboard staring out at you, you can be pretty sure you are in corkboard mode. :slight_smile: Sorry if that sounds flippant, but in actual fact this is the established way for toggle buttons like this to work. Consider the “inspector” icon, which works just as it does in all Apple apps. You don’t expect it to be highlighted, because it is very obvious when the inspector is or isn’t visible. This is exactly the same with the corkboard and outliner. There is no need to highlight these icons as it is very obvious from the views on screen which mode you are in. Moreover, as you say in a later post, because of the split views, this highlighted state would have to change every time you switch focus between documents, which would make for a confusing toolbar experience.

Okay, so what happens if you want to view all of the contents of a group as one long document? Currently, you click on the group and hit Edit Scrivenings. In your model, you would have to open the group and select all of its contents - that is actually more mouse clicks. What about if you only want to view scrivenings that are marked for export? You would still need a button. Moreover, what if you want to select a huge chunk of documents in the binder and move them somewhere else by dragging them? In your model, this would load Edit Scrivenings, which would slow down the whole process, as you would have to wait for the text to be combined before you could drag. Or, what if you want to select arbitrary documents that are not next to each other? In your model, each time you clicked a document, Edit Scrivenings would get loaded. If you do this for many documents with many words each, this would slow things down.

In short, I considered this very carefully when designing the interface. In an early version, things worked how you suggest. But I rejected this and went for Edit Scrivenings instead. Edit Scrivenings is a separate mode, and shouldn’t be “in your face” if you do not want to use it.

Answered above - the current behaviour will not change for the reasons given here and in other threads I have answered about this.

It’s the one with the blinking cursor. :slight_smile: But seriously, how do you tell which is the active split in Word or any other such program?

Could you explain this one in more detail? I don’t understand. The inspector shows the information for the currently selected document - that might be an index card in the corkboard, it might be the current text document, and so on.

This is a matter of opinion. In SG, users complained that you couldn’t double-click on documents to rename them. :slight_smile:

Lord Lightning - I have created a new forum, “Tips & Tricks” for precisely this reason. Unfortunately the e-mail thing won’t be feasible, though. I just won’t have the time to upload images and information like that. Do you not have anywhere you can upload the images so that you can display them on the forum?

Well, that was a longer post than I had meant to make. Now I realise that my answer to most of these suggestions is “no”. Sorry. :slight_smile: Hopefully you can see the reason why, though - I am not saying no because I am reluctant to change Scrivener, but just because I am convinced that the way it works currently in these areas is for the best.

Thanks for taking the time to post and make these suggestions, I very much appreciate people trying to help make Scrivener a better program.

All the best,


I’ll have a think about the header thing. The trouble is that now the header changes colour if the document is “locked in place” (for beta 2), so this would conflict.

I’m not offended at all. My tone may not always come across as I wish simply because I am trying to answer a lot of questions in as short a time as possible whilst still being thorough. :slight_smile:

All the best,


Your hard thought about the interface indeed shows – I think Scrivener possibly has the most understatedly sexy UI of any Mac app I currently use. I’d be totally happy with the beta’s UI as it is; it’s just that Rich’s post got me thinking about whether there could be ways of making more people happy.

Touché! :wink: I know I expressed myself badly, but that’s actually not the kind of visual feedback I was getting at – AFAIK, Rich’s problem wasn’t that he didn’t know that he was in the Corkboard, but rather that he didn’t know which button to click to get out of it in order to write some text. Unlike SG, there’s no feedback about relationships between modes. When you’re in Corkboard and want to switch to “writing” mode, you click on the Corkboard icon. And if you’re in Outliner and want to switch to “writing” mode, you have to click somewhere else again. So if you want to edit text, there’s no one place to click – depending on where you are, one of two different buttons toggles you into the unnamed “writing” mode. Unlike the Inspector, which is added to and subtracted from the window by clicking its icon, the “write text” mode is replaced in any editing area by clicking on the Corkboard or Outliner buttons, so to return to editing, my immediate instinct is to look for some kind of “edit” button.

That said, I don’t have anything better to offer – given the crazy flexibility that splits offers, a highlighted tab does indeed become confusing. But at least with a highlighted tab, you’ve got visual feedback that you’ve currently selected one amongst X number of limited, mutually exclusive choices, which then implies which buttons can be pressed to leave that currently-selected choice. And even though the tab selector’s state would change depending on the mode, at least the click target would remain the same, unlike the current setup, where the click target shifts according to the currently selected mode.

Anyway, it’s a minor point. Thanks again for the excellent app – it’s changing my life!

Brilliant Keith!

I wonder if there is anyone who could enable this. We email you and you post them. But Beware Spam. Someone is really fouling things up so email has got to be to someone we can trust.

Yes to the idea of a text editing icon (next to the corkboard and outliner ones would be fine for me) - I found myself clicking all over the place the other day to get back to editing. My head was in the writing. :wink:

(The Edit Scrivenings is fine, imo.)

As to the images - wouldn’t a Flickr group work? Just post there and ref it here. That way Keith doesn’t have to be involved at all.