Please don't "bolt on" junk masquerading as features

As a new user of Scrivener (Windows, 1.6.0.0), the number one feature I want to see in Scrivener is to not see too many “features” bolted onto the figurative sides of the program.

As a new user I’m very impressed with Scrivener’s design. I began working with computers in 1981 and Scrivener is the first truly new model for developing documents I’ve seen in a very long time.

My hope, then, is that creeping featureism won’t transform the elegant race horse that is today’s Scrivener into an ungainly camel. That’s not to say that Scrivener should never receive any new capabilities. But my hope is that new capabilities will be properly integrated into the program’s elegant design framework.

As a model of what not to do, I will submit one of most notoriously unusable programs in the world, Microsoft Word. In general, Word’s reputation is that of a program that is annoyingly difficult to control. I firmly believe that well-deserved reputation for clumsiness is the direct result of Microsoft’s relentless bolting on of notional features with no regard for the program’s overall architectural purpose, user goals, or product usability.

It seems to me that Scrivener is in the process of attaining a critical mass of new users (of which I am one). Many of these new Scrivener users arrive with preconceptions inculcated by older generations of word processing or desktop publishing programs about how things ought to work or what capabilities are “missing”.

It’s certainly desirable to listen to users and carefully consider how Scrivener might be improved. But I think it would be highly undesirable to equate improvement with the length of a features list rather than an elegantly coherent design architecture.

Scrivener’s design has broken free of many of the inefficiencies and clumsiness of programs that claim a greater number of bolted-on “features” but that have lost sight of their original design goals. With that in mind, please don’t screw Scrivener up with a bunch of quick-fix “feature” Band-Aids stuck all over the place.

Cheers & hope this helps,
Riley
SFO

Thanks for the feedback, Riley! I think we pretty much agree on all of this. There are definitely some more features planned, but by and large they are all tucked out of the way unless you need them. Consider how Collections are handled in Scrivener right now. If you’ve never had need for using this feature before, then you may not even know it exists, and that it is possible to organise your Binder into multiple lists, using tabs. The feature completely disappears if you do not need it, and this is how most of the new things will be as well.

The vast majority of the planned changes are along the lines of refinement, and in fact simplifying and making things easier to use. Better navigation, better visibility, more persistence (such as an outliner that remembers the state you left it in), etc. This also involves fleshing out existing features to their full implementation. For example right now you cannot select all of the text in a Scrivenings session, and you cannot see all of the comments & footnotes in the sidebar. This is because of an incomplete implementation.

Definitely! And I think if you go through the official posting history on these topics you’ll see we’re pretty firm about Scrivener not being a word processor, and that there are just some things it not only will not do, but should not do. Not everyone likes that line, to be sure, because everyone has their pet thing they want like floating image boxes that wrap text, or stylesheets, which I see you’ve commented on yourself—but we can’t add everything that everyone wants without compromising the vision of the software: to be a pure authoring environment that does just enough formatting to get you within 15 minutes to two hours of post-production finesse (for self-pub; for traditional publishing of course, no extra work is typically required, you just need your double-spaced TNR/Courier document).

Thanks again, and welcome to the boards.

Good to see that stated outright, though. Most of us just kinda bounce through here when we have a question or are looking for some news, so we don’t always see these little discussions happening in threads that don’t catch our attention.

I already get cold chills if I happen to see the ruler in the editor (or go into the Appearance>Editor dialog), so even though it likely wouldn’t bother me on principle if the editor became more like an AbiWord or Atlantis, I think it might disturb the part of me that’s been professionally running away from Word for the past decade or so ;-p

I think the guiding rule might be to never have your users need to ask “How do I make Scrivener stop doing X?” :open_mouth: