New user feedback: Good, Bad, and there is no ugly!

First, I should mention I’m a software developer by trade, and have been for over 20 years, so I’ve seen my share of crudware over the years (including plenty of my own code).

I am very pleased to say Scrivener is exactly what it claims to be, has basically worked intuitively and flawlessly, and has been the only way that I’ve been able to effectively organize my genealogy research (which I’m slowly converting into an eBook to pass around to extended family). The use of a DMG file for its contents is comforting to someone like me who has an aversion to proprietary file formats.

There are some minor things I’ve run across. Some are bugs, others are wish list items, and in a few I’m probably just missing the “zen” of Scrivener. I would love to hear from anyone who can help with these:

– I can’t zoom in and out on JPEG Image Documents. I’ve imported a number of high-resolution images, from scanned pages to photos of headstones, all as JPEG files, and the normal zoom shortcuts (Apple±, Apple+<, etc.) have no impact. I feel like I’m looking at these files through a loupe, and I don’t want to have to resize them or convert them to PDF just to make them usable.

– I can’t drag image documents onto a folder or onto the corkboard view for a folder, I have to import them through the menu. (Same goes for dragging URLs from my browser… it would be nice to be able to do this.)

– Creating internal link references – sometimes dragging the file over to the References panel creates the link, other times it opens the file in place of the file currently being viewed. This seems to be a trigger-happy event handler of some sort that doesn’t realize a drag/drop is in progress.

– Formatting of tabular data is problematic. I believe this is just a limitation of whatever native control is being used, but a new document type might be handy, some sort of editable, formatted grid (like a spreadsheet without the math functionality).

– It would be nice to be able to annotate an image – just some sort of virtual sticky note or color highlight overlay. My background research documents are quite text-dense, and picking out the names of people I’m interested in can be a little inefficient. (I could highlight them before import, of course, but I’m trying to do most of my work within Scrinener.)

– Research information for genealogy tends to be on personal web sites, listserv archives, etc. I’m afraid some of them will disappear over time, so it would be nice to have an option to cache particular web links rather than loading them live each time they are accessed. (I know I could print to PDF and import that, but that’s not terribly efficient.)

– Clicking on a folder with some high-resolution image files sends me to beachball-land for a few second. I have a Mac Pro with 16GB of RAM, and while it’s a few years old, it seems like this should be faster. Could you cache the corkboard thumbnails? (By “high resolution,” I mean an average of around 8MP.)

– If you’re looking to change the file format in the future (to make the Mac and Windows versions compatible), I would suggest swapping out the RTF for HTML and the DMG for a folder that is basically a self-contained web site. Add the ability to sync to a web server using PUT and you’ve got instant multi-device and collaboration capability. (Using HTML as a replacement for RTF has its own advantages for the user, though I admit I don’t do OS X app developemenr and don’t know if WebView is as capable as NSTextView on the back end.)

– Just a little plea: please don’t change Scrivener to require Mountain Lion or Mavericks! Mac Pros made prior to the EFI64 upgrade can’t run either of these upgraded versions.

Thanks for making a great product! I hope there are some workarounds for these minor nits I’ve been picking, or that solutions can be included for them in a future version.

Thanks for the detailed feedback, Richard!

  • I can’t zoom in and out on JPEG Image Documents.: I can’t reproduce this one myself. I wonder if it has something to do with the size of the JPEG images? What are the physical dimensions in pixels as well as the DPI setting? Also do they not respond to the tools when you double-click on the image, or just the zoom shortcuts you mentioned? Regarding the shortcut, do make sure the focus is in the editor, otherwise you’ll be sending the shortcut to the Binder, which doesn’t zoom.
  • I can’t drag image documents onto a folder or onto the corkboard view for a folder…, dragging files directly into the Outliner or Corkboard is not yet supported. We’re looking into fixing that; it’s a bit of a technical snarl. Drops should work in all cases in the Binder sidebar though—I’m not sure if that is what you mean by a folder. Do note however you can’t dump research material into the Draft folder. Same goes for dragging URLs from my browser… it would be nice to be able to do this, that depends on the browser and what it does when you lift a picture out of it. Safari works for instance, but Opera will load the page the picture resides on.
  • Creating internal link references – sometimes dragging the file over to the References panel creates the link, other times it opens the file in place of the file currently being viewed. The only thing I can think of is that your mouse button is wearing down and that part-way through the drag you’re dropping over the editor bar. If you drop an item onto the editor header bar (where the name of the current item is) then it will load it there. References will drop here too. I suggest a weakened mouse button because I’ve never seen nor heard of such a thing happening before—and I make a lot of References. :slight_smile: One other thing to check, is that if you drop a text file into a text file, it will append the text of the dropped file into the currently edited document—so make sure that isn’t happening.
  • Formatting of tabular data is problematic. Yup, that’s just the Cocoa text view table tool. We’d have to make one from scratch to get around its various issues. It’s on the blue sky list of things to do. Given that Scrivener’s focus is rough drafts and such, fine-tuning things like tables is a bit out of scope for now.
  • If you mean actually editing the image to have little markers in it, that’s out of scope as well. Scrivener is a file hub, not an editor. Just click the little open icon in the footer below the image, or use the Ctrl-Cmd-O shortcut to open it in something like Preview where you can mark it up. The markings will be visible in Scrivener once you refresh or reload the image. If you mean annotating an image that is embedded in the text, you can do that by selecting it like any other piece of text and hitting Shift-Cmd-8 to add a comment to it. This will become searchable.
  • Research information for genealogy tends to be on personal web sites, listserv archives, etc…. it would be nice to have an option* to cache particular web links…*: how are you importing your web research? If you are dragging URLs into the Binder, then by default they should be fully archived, using the .webarchive format (same as Safari uses to save pages, and commonly supported by most Mac file management software). There is no dynamic way to import a web page, short of just creating a bookmark to the URL in the References panel or something.
  • Thumbnail cache wouldn’t be a bad idea for Corkboards. I’ll see that it is on the list. Note that if you do not need the previews, you can switch them off in the Corkboard preference pane, with Display images as photographs.
  • If you’re looking to change the file format in the future (to make the Mac and Windows versions compatible): The file format already is compatible, and if anything RTF is more native to Windows than it is on the Mac—it is Microsoft’s specification after all. :slight_smile: I’m not sure what you mean by the DMG though—we just use a folder to store the Scrivener project. You might be thinking of the Mac’s ability to register a particular file extension on a folder as being a “package”, much like software with the “.app” extension is treated as a file on the system. That’s all that is going on. Change your project’s name to something other than “my novel.scriv” on the end, and you’ll see it turn into a folder—which is what Windows people see and work with.
  • Compatibility: it’s unlikely we’ll be dropping 10.6 or greater any time soon, as these are still broadly supported by Apple. Our 10.4 and 10.5 support on the other hand has become really difficult to support, and so they will probably be dropped, along with PPC, in the coming year. At any rate, the fact that we still, in 2014, support Mac OS 10.4 ought to let you know that we do not drop platforms lightly. :slight_smile: We know that most writers prefer to settle down to a stable system for as many years as they can before upgrading.

[] Image Zooming – figured out a workaround in the Bugs forum.[/]
[] Yes, I was trying to drag research material into the Draft folder – PDF files and whatnot. Looking forward to any future capabilities here. For URLs, I’m dragging from Chrome.[/]
[] I’m using a Magic Mouse, no similar issues in other apps dragging, and I know I’m not dragging over the title bar or letting go of the button. I may post a video in Bugs the next time I’m on a reference streak.[/]
[] Tables – going from native RTF to native HTML would go a long way here, but I’m a broken record on that suggestion.[/]
[]Yes, I was talking about annotating images. I can always open it externally in Photoshop, but it seems like terrible overkill, and results in permanent changes to the image rather than just overlaid positioned graphics. Don’t need a full image editor, just a way to put some icons on various spots in the image. But I certainly understand how this might not be on everyone’s top 10 list of requested features. I may just have to switch to using PDF exclusively and forego JPEG scans.[/]
[]That’s great news! I just assumed these were mere bookmarks, not web archives.[/]
[]Thanks for checking into thumb caches. I prefer to see the previews, but may have to turn them off for now.[/]
[]Yes, I mistook the “package” folders to be disk images.[/]
[]That is very good news. I’m on 10.7.5, and this machine still has a lot of life left in it even though Apple doesn’t support upgrading it further.[/]

Thanks for the detailed responses!

You phrase this in the past tense, does this condition persist? To be honest I don’t know what could be inhibiting drag and drop for files, that should be working fine. The only things I can think of are either (a) you are using something other than Finder for a file manager and its implementation of drag and drop for files isn’t what Scrivener is expecting, or (b) there is some third-party helper utility that is doing something to file (at least) drag & drops.

For URLs, Chrome should work—I just tested it and successfully imported a web page by dragging the favicon to the Binder from Chrome’s URL bar. But like I say it may just be all drag & drop is having difficulties on account of some external factor, so chasing this one down independently might be fruitless.

Same here, I use that one as well, and I bet it takes a lot longer for the mechanism on that mouse to fail than a standard cheap mouse button, given its design of hinging the entire mouse behind the button, so it’s probably not that. I’m also using BetterTouchTool to enhance the mouse (and trackpad on the go), so there shouldn’t be any problems—but if you are using that, perhaps there is a configuration option that is causing flakiness in certain scenarios like dragging material over various receptive zones in Scrivener. Try quitting BTT for a bit and see if it goes away, and if it does, tweak your settings. If you find the culprit, let me know.

If you’re using Photoshop you can leave compatibility mode on for saving, and annotate on layers. Scrivener can view compatibility mode PSD files just fine (it should in theory display anything that Finder or Quick Look can, so even raw images and such). It will display the full-scale composite preview in the editor, but when you open it back up in PS you’ll have all your layers.

You’re going to have to do the same thing with PDF anyway though. Scrivener can highlight lines in a PDF file but it can’t put notes down, so you’ll be opening them in Preview/Acrobat/Skim/Whatever to do the annotation. Like I say, think of Scrivener more like DEVONthink, EagleFiler, Yep and other such tools. It’s not a file editor, it’s a file viewer and hub. Keep it all together, organise it in ways you cannot otherwise organise and view it, but leave editing to the programs that do that best.

P.S. I’ve heard back, and we have corkboard thumbnail caching on the list for the next major version. It will be session based, so once a corkboard is cached it will be instantly responsive until the software is closed.