New User's Reactions to the Tutorial


I just read about Scrivener from Lifehacker ( It looked interesting, so I downloaded Scrivener 1.0 and went through the tutorial. I expect to play around with the program over the next few weeks to see if it’s going to work for me for my next novel. But before that happens, I thought I’d give my immediate feedback just from taking the tutorial.

I’ve numbered the items below. Some are minor bugs in the tutorial itself (mostly typos), others are reactions to the behavior of the program. I recognize that some of these may be adjustable from the Preferences section, which is why I’m sending this now, before I learn too much and forget my first impressions.

  1. The ReadMe.rtf says “Click on the document entitled “CLICK HERE TO START” in the view on the left inside Scrivener to start the tutorial.” I had to click the arrow next to Draft (to open it up) and then arrow next to Part 1 (to open it up) and only then could I see (and click on) CLICK HERE TO START.

  1. While in the tutorial, I reached Part 1, Step 7. I clicked on “Part 2: Organisation” as advised. Then to check up on what I was to do next, I hit the “back” arrow in the header bar, and was returned to Step 7, but in the binder, “Part 2: Organisation” was still selected. Clicking on “Part 2: Organisation” at that point did not bring the corkboard back - in fact, nothing changed at all: Part 2 was still selected, and the text of Step 7 was still displayed. Repeated clicks on “Part 2” did not help - the text of Step 7 remained in the main window. I was able to get the two windows synchronized again by selecting Step 7 manually in the binder, and then re-selecting Part 2 manually in the binder.

A little more playing around revealed that using the forward and backward buttons in the main window does not cause corresponding changes in the binder. If this de-synchronization is deliberate, I’ll just note that it’s confusing to me at this point as a newcomer. It’s also confusing that re-selecting the file I wanted to see (in this case, “Part 2”) did not cause that file to be displayed.

  1. In Step 8 (“Splits”) when I split the document, the new window opened at a different magnification than the original (which I had set to 150%). It’s nice that the windows can be individually scaled, but I bet that almost every time I’m going to split a document, I’ll want to see the new version at the same scale factor as the current one (that is, having selected 150% for easy reading, I’m going to want the new view to be just as legible to me as the pre-split view).

  1. When moving from “Step 8” to “Step 9”, the scroll bar doesn’t scroll to the top of the document. I just noticed this now, but it seems to happen on all newly-loaded files: the scroll bar (and my position in the new file) remains from where it was in the previous file. I can typically see myself moving through a big pile of files one at a time, reading one from top to bottom, then moving to the next. That is, walking through a big file, exactly as I’m doing while working through this tutorial. So I’ll always end a file at the bottom, and want to start the next one at the top. The need to scroll to the top of each new file after loading it is going to quickly become awfully tiresome.

  1. Part 3 text says “(you may to expand the” A word is missing - the context suggests “want”, but I think rather than “You may want to” it should be “You will need to”.

  1. Step 14: “in the Snaphots menu” should be “Snapshots”. Although I like the word “snaphots” and believe it may have use somewhere (perhaps referring to crispy jalapeno peppers?).

  1. Step 16: When I clicked on the “spacewalk info” link, it opened as expected. But when I hit the “back” button, the scrollbar returned to the top of the file when it re-loaded. See my comment #4 above. When returning to a document via the “back” button, that is the time I would want the scrollbar (and my place in the file) to be where they were when I left.

I liked what I saw here, and I’m optimistic about the program. I’m particularly pleased to see a very nice-looking product written by a fellow writer who also programs! I look forward to using and evaluating Scrivener over the next few weeks.


#1:You know, I noticed that problem with the tutorial, and never got around to mentioning anything about it. I think there should be a document at the very top of the Binder that is the entry point.

Point on #2: This used to be in the FAQ, and I recently removed it because it has not come up in a while, but I suppose I should put it back in. The answer went something like this:

#3: I’m pretty sure he just did that to show that it can be done. The default for new projects is both splits set to the same magnification.

#6: I like snaphots, too.

I noticed it too, but I didn’t say anything because I thought it was due to me having read the previous version of the tutorial with the same file name, and the discussion only days before about how Scrivener remembers where you were in a file between sessions even when they’re months apart. I thought it was just local settings on my computer.

That doesn’t explain why clicking on Part 2 in the binder didn’t bring the Part 2 display back! (Good idea to put it back in the FAQ though; I hadn’t noticed it disappearing and that is something I think is liable to cause confusion.)

Correct, I was responding more to the latter paragraph than the Part2/7 clicking. It seems the editor is changed on select and not on click of Binder items, and since Part 2 was already selected, clicking on it did nothing. It might very well be that since it is already selected, Keith might not be able to capture the mouse click.

Odd behaviour aside, in this particular scenario, the forward button (Cmd-]) could have been used instead of selecting and re-selecting Part 2 in the Binder.

Thanks. Have taken note of your comments and will update the tutorial accordingly.

All the best,

Thanks to everyone for following up on my impressions so reasonably! In way too many forums a posting like that would have been met with a barrage of replies of the form, “You %*(&$ idiot, OBVIOUSLY the [zig] is SUPPOSED to [zag] like that, and only a moron would think otherwise!!!” (multiple exclamation points are, of course, required).

My style to date has been to prepare extensive notes on paper, filling one or more notebooks with everything from character bios to drawings, lists of my character’s favorite songs to pasted-in cut-outs of clothes they would like to wear, as well as plotlines, snippets of prose, sketches of maps, and so on.

I’m not sure if I’ll be well-served by doing this on the computer - there are obvious pros and cons, and only some experience will tell me which way the balance eventually falls for me. But this combination of a responsive, thoughtful, and sane user base and developer is enormously attractive, and I want you to know it’s both remarkable and very appreciated!


Welcome AndrewG

We would never never use “moronâ€

As someone who still uses a lot of paper, too, one thing that I have always held in the back of my head as a possibility is scanning. I have a little scanner, and Scrivener would make it easy for me to dump my notes in image format into the project. I tried it out the other day and it was a lot easier than I imagined it would be. I set up everything to do an 8 colour index scan to make as small a file as possible, and made it so that when I pressed the button on the front of the scanner it automatically saves the file into my incoming folder. So I can be off doing other things and just feed it paper for a while, then import the lot into Scrivener. Keyword it and that should be it. Since I can load images into a split, it would be relatively simple to use them as reference, too.

Hi Andrew - one of the nice surprises about creating Scrivener has actually been the great userbase that has developed - no snobbishness, arrogance or RTFM replies, and on the occasions where people have been a little terse (myself included), it is usually followed up with a “um, sorry”. :slight_smile:

The nice thing about mistakes in the tutorial, too, is that it’s a lot easier to fix than bugs in the program!

Anyway, as for writing - absolutely, do what is best for you. Scrivener won’t suit everybody, because every writer is different. Some will prefer Jer’s, some CopyWrite, Ulysses or Avenir, others still would rather stick to Word, and others will go with a typewriter any day. What’s great is that there are now more and more tools that help different types of writer - whatever it takes to get those words down on the page! And of course, even if you decide that Scrivener isn’t the tool for you and decide not to buy, you should still feel free to contribute to any literature or writing discussions that go in the non-Scrivener parts of the forum. The more the merrier when it comes to discussions on the writing craft…

All the best,

How did you do that Amber? What program did you use?

I have a DocketPort 465 (and a larger Fijitsu that only uses ScanTango.) But the DocketPort could certainly benefit from your instructions and I could get the 44,000 index cards off my desk, off the side of the tub, out of the kitchen and my pockets . . . you get the picture. :unamused:

I use VueScan. The one thing I dislike about it is that you cannot easily save scan jobs. I’d like to have a different colour depth for pages that have been edited with red pens, for instance, than index cards where grayscale is just fine. It would also be nice if it did multi-card scanning. I know some software lets you put nine cards on the scanner and it will scan them all to separate files.