Poor Help cross-referencing and prioritizing of tasks

After returning to Scrivener, I’ve just wasted 20 min of my life trying to split the viewing panel before finally finding it buried in View->Layout->SplitHorizontally. Either I’ve learnt nothing about intuitive navigation from using 20 different packages or else Scrivener’s Help linkage is woeful (trying doing a search on “split”. Isn’t this a common task? Why is there not an icon for it anyway?)

I remember I had a similar experience with the “Compile Draft” function nestled at the bottom of the the File Menu. Given this is “THE” task one is working towards you might think it would be a little more prominent (either as an icon by default or customization). Weird.

The tone of your post might not get you too many helpful responses.
But I’d suggest that you go through the Tutorial,
Use the Help file, Read the FAQ
And study the menus, instead of relying on “intuitive navigation”
Or writing a grouchy complaint, when you’re so new on the block.
But then you may well have the personality of a writer.
So welcome, and good luck.

Well, there’s a lot of functionality in Scrivener, and nobody’s ever going to completely agree about how obvious that functionality is.

There’s a “Toggle Split” button in the header of each window view. It changes state in ways that I think would prevent it being a single toolbar icon, and yet if it were a more complex tabbed toolbar button, it’d be a little too cumbersome for the toolbar. Some people don’t split their windows at all, and having a three-way tabbed split button in the toolbar would be overly busy. Confession: I’ve been using Scrivener for a few years, and have only recently been using a split window.

Some Scrivener menus aren’t always convenient, I don’t think the arrangement of the menus is unintuitive. if I wanted to split a window, I’d look in the View menu. And what’s the obvious submenu to find ways of changing the arrangement of a window? “Layout”. Yes, it’s in a submenu, but it’s grouped with a bunch of other things that control the layout of your window. If things weren’t in nested menus, the menus would get awfully long. Meanwhile, note the elegance of the keyboard shortcuts for window splitting: cmd-= (two horizontal lines) for a horizontal split, and cmd-" (two vertical lines) for a vertical split.

While it’s quite central to the whole process, “Compile Draft” isn’t something most people do a lot of the time in comparison to other features, so I think it’s understandable that there’s no “Compile Draft” button in the toolbar.

You might find that the next version of Scrivener might be more intuitive for you – Keith has mentioned that some options have been reorganised.

Lastly, are you using Tiger or Leopard? This isn’t to do with the quality of Scrivener’s documentation, but in the “Help” menu under Leopard, if I enter “Split” in the Search field, the “Layout > Split” options are the first search results returned. If I enter “Compile” or “Draft”, “File > Compile Draft” is the first result. There is one major source of confusion with “Split”, which is that there are two kinds of “split” in the Scrivener universe – splitting the window into separate views, and splitting a long document into smaller documents. If you could constructively suggest an absolutely unambiguous and yet accessible way to differentiate these two actions…

BTW, I’m not suggesting that Scrivener’s interface is above discussion, but that the balance of design exigencies is often harder to achieve than one’s original impressions. I was one of the people several years ago who argued strenuously that the Corkboard and Outliner toolbar buttons should have been subsumed into some kind of “Edit Text”/“Corkboard”/“Outliner” tabbed selector, to clearly show that these are mutually exclusive ways of looking at content, and to suggest a more obvious way to get back to editing text. But I didn’t have any answers about how that would work in a split window environment. Keith instead chose to have the toolbar buttons assume a “selected” state, so clicking on them again would suggest a toggling out of the default text editing behaviour and into another mode, and back again. I don’t think this is a perfect metaphor – I still baulk a bit about clicking “Corkboard” again to get back to editing text, even though it’s more clearly a toggled state – but I can’t think of a better way of doing it in an environment as flexible as Scrivener’s.

There is an icon for split - there is a split button in the header bar of each editor pane, and it should look fairly obvious. Also, I’m not sure where else you would expect to find Split commands other than in the View menu. Split commands are contained in a View > Layout menu in a number of apps, but even so, if you are using Leopard or above, all you need to do is type “Split” into the search field in the Help menu and it will show you exactly where to find it.

I think “Compile Draft” is in a very prominent and apt position. It surely belongs in the File menu, as it combines the options of Print and Export, both of which commands are usually in the File menu of any app, and it is at the bottom of the menu, which is almost as prominent as being at the top, rather than being buried in the middle. Scrivener 2.0 will have a toolbar icon for this, but I hardly think that it is “weird” that it doesn’t have one currently: although it may be a major task in Scrivener, it is hardly one that most users are going to perform every day, given that it is generally the final, one-off step in a very long process.

Please do try to remember that you are dealing with human beings here - I’m the sole developer of Scrivener, so when people start getting a bit aggressive in their complaints, I tend to take it personally.


P.S. As others have recommended, you may want to reacquaint yourself with the interactive tutorial or the video tutorial ( literatureandlatte.com/videos ).

There was a short discussion about Help pages a few months ago. See:


At the time I was still using Tiger and had no way of knowing how Help worked in Leopard. That said, I think I would still vote for a PDF of the whole documentation (at least as an alternative to help via the menu). This is what Bookends does, and I find it very … helpful …

Best wishes,

Martin BB.

The plan is indeed to have the Help file in PDF format for 2.0 rather than in Apple’s Help book format.

Indeed! Thank you, I will certainly look on that as an improvement over Apple’s system.

Shouldn’t you be out with the family on a Bank Holiday, instead of communicating with sad individuals like me who waste the best of their time in front of a screen? :wink:

Best wishes,

Martin BB.

Very good news, Keith! I’m sure a Help file in PDF-format will be appreciated by many!

Harden (or lighten?) up people ! I don’t think my comments were aggressive nor inappropriate - frustrated yes - slightly inaccurate maybe - but this is really a backhanded compliment. I expect a lot from the software I use and so expect to use Scrivener intuitively and quickly.

  • I’m not interested in having to use videos poring over manuals - well designed software should mostly be self-explanatory.

  • I am suitably embarrassed about the split window actually being an existing icon. I missed it.

  • The cross-referencing and search is poor in Scrivener’s help in my opinion (no “split” renaming needed in this case just cross-referencing)

  • I am aware that different user levels/styles require different design layouts. But isn’t this flexibility already built in in the customizing top panel? Why is not the “Compile Draft” or any functionality allowed there?

  • I maintain that “Compile Draft” should be more prominent but even if one disagrees as per previous point why not the option of making it more prominent.

  • Keith, Expecting too much or hurting a developer’s feelings should not get in the way of improving a product IMHO. Scrivener is the only single-author software I use and is truly an impressive achievement. Unfortunately this very characteristic means that I don’t see it as a long-term solution as the adjunct to my Latex -Mathematica work and am keeping an eye out for alternatives. What happens if you fall under a truck? or some feature requiring wide expertise is needed to keep it competitive and/or relevant? I don’t know about the economics, the practicalities etc but open-source it or build a bigger team and instill a certain design philosophy to ultimately make a good product, an insanely good product. Unfortunately I doubt this will happen as I’ve seen it before where developers become a little too attached to their baby - that’s OK it’s their right :slight_smile: but it’s really a bit of a lost opportunity IMNSHO.


@ thestig: Your comments were and are both aggressive and inappropriate - if this is your usual way of talking, then please practice your talk somewhere else.

I totally agree. Scrivener is for writing fiction, films, and nonfiction.
You really should not be using it.
And on your way out, please fall under a truck. :smiling_imp:

I’ve used both Latex and Mathematica… no user of those software packages should ever complain about non-intuitive interface design in any other product. Nor should any user of a Wolfram product complain about overly possessive developer attitudes from any other company.

Don’t get me wrong, Mathematica is an incredibly powerful package. Wolfram has every reason to be possessive about their baby. But intuitive? No. Open source? Not in a million years. And, last time I checked, Wolfram’s flagship product cost literally 100x as much as Scrivener. They are playing in totally different spaces, and comparisons between the two are simply unfair – to both products.

Perhaps you should ask the Wolfram folks why their gold-plated product is missing such key functionality that you’re forced to turn to someone like Keith?


We’ve already covered up-thread that 2.0’s Help file will be in PDF. Unless I misunderstand you (your phraseology really wasn’t very intuitive :wink: ), the Help file indexing is really down to Apple’s standard Help book format.

Again, I’ve already explained that this is coming in 2.0, but I would direct you to Apple’s own Human Interface Guidelines for an informed reply to this; in particular note this:

Again, you seem to have ignored my previous reply to this, in which I explained how the Compile Draft feature already is prominent for the function it provides. If you are still just going on about a toolbar icon, though, please see above.

Thank you. It’s a shame you want to jump ship because you don’t like any of the factors that have made it such, though. :slight_smile:

Survived falling under a bus (have the scars to prove it), why not a truck too?

How am I supposed to build a bigger team? Scrivener is a niche product. I’m lucky it’s done so well that I could afford to bring David on board. But - and I know this is anathema to you - my enjoyment of Scrivener relies on designing and working on it myself (and I can’t really apologise for wanting to enjoy my job). I can’t afford another coder, but even if I could, it wouldn’t be much fun for him or her working under my dictatorial regime…

And as for open-sourcing, it always surprises me the number of people who will quite happily ask you to give your work away for free, as though you have no right to make a living from the hard work you put into a product they use. “Open-sourcing” essentially means giving away my living, giving away code I have worked on for five years. Out of interest, would you be happy to work for free? I’m not sure what your day job is, but if someone you come into contact with in that job suggested you do it all for nothing, would you? It’s the same thing.

The thing is, a “design philosophy” gets diluted with too many cooks. Scrivener is what it is because it started as what I wanted for my own writing, and then grew - in particular in 2.0 - through the real world use and suggestions of many users. I personally think that’s a good design philosophy. You start by creating something you really want yourself, and end up with a sort of roughly-hewn stone that does the job. Then it gets honed and refined as others point out improvements, but those improvements are still filtered through the, uh, “sculptor” as it were. You’re welcome to disagree, of course, but that is the way of L&L.

It may not be so humble, but is only your opinion. :slight_smile: I take all user suggestions and feedback on board, but unfortunately in this case it seems to be less the product that you are complaining about so much as the team, company, and whole driving philosophy that underpins it. So I tell you what - convince Apple or someone to pay me millions for Scriv, and I will happily slink off to the Riviera with a laptop and my family and let you get on dealing with a big company such as it seems you want to. :slight_smile:


Keith: Please refrain from falling under trucks. I’ve only been to the UK once, and the visit was very brief. Nonetheless, but the time I spent there has me convinced that you can find much better things to to entertain yourself do on a Friday night.

I must admit that this poster demonstrates the actual downside to open source and the “Linux” mentality (a view of software that became prevalent with the wide spread acceptance of Linux). The technical issues have been addressed. The gut reaction has been addressed (much more softly than I would have). Let me touch on the “you idiot” aspect of your vitriolic posts.

I must assume that you actually know what IMNSHO means. You actually call your self in arrogant prick with this one acronym. By having the audacity to proudly proclaim that your opinion is so perfect as to not require a modicum of humility is to immediately declare your superiority to all who might express a distention to your asinine suggestions. In doing so you immediately raise the hackles, and hence resistance from, the very folks that you are submitting a change request to. Ever hear the phrase “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar”?

You have established that you not only think your shit doesn’t stink, but that you are slow to verify the reality of your fears. Had you spent a few minutes searching the forums looking for posts dealing with Keith and early termination, or even development help, you would notice that there are enough software developers using scrivener, that if he were to fall under a bus, the only time lost would be in the fight to claim the source code. I have a sneaky suspicion that there are already plans in place to deal with the untimely demise of KB (which would most likely be due to one to many posts from idiots like you).

Finally I would offer you a suggestion. Go take a basic “how to manage people” course. I’m sure that you think you already know how get folks to do what you want, but being an ass only works if folks are forced to cooperate. Let me share a little secret with you, KB isn’t forced to cooperate with you (I will prove it to you in just a minute). Neither are the rest of us. The loud chorus of folks telling you to buzz off should tell you something.

For the record, I normally try to make peace around here (everyone feel free to correct me if I have an incorrect view of that). I have strong opinions on things that are much more important, and caustic, than anything you have raised, which I have expressed freely. I do not believe that I ever made folks as upset as you have in one thread. Folks on these forums talk religion, politics, and social issues all the time. How is it that you have elicited this level of hostility?

You need to stop being an arrogant ass.

To proving that KB isn’t beholden to you in any way:

KB. Feel free to refund any $$ accepted from thestig. I will reimburse you the costs, as well as buy a 2.0 upgrade to cover expectations. Since I am calling your customers names, it is only right that I offset any lost revenue. I hope you aren’t to upset with me.

For the record, I have no knowledge beyond what KB has said on these forums. Please don’t read anything into this.

At least on the code part. The untimely demise of KB is another story. If his other half is like my other half, the release of snow and the subsequent hours spent fixing things makes an untimely demise an actual possibility.

Oh, OK, OK, I’ll go along with the self-parody. All irony-challenged readers out there please replace occurrences of IMNSHO with IMVVHO. All readers who hear voices please replace IMNSHO with IM*******HO where ******* stands for whatever you want it to stand for. For those for whom WTF seems to be the only acronym that adequately captures this rant - Phew :smiling_face:.

This is a pretty cliched and simplistic characterization of open-source. There are many business models that have been built around and many wealthy open source originators who, dare I say it, started out less close-minded. But yes open source may not be the way - I don’t know. Small agile companies abound (and yes with deserving, rich originators) with programmers who gel. I’m agnostic on the choice of models but fundamentalist, it seems, on using a wide array of skill sets and energy to improve any given software. Instead of being handcuffed by TMCSTB, it seems to me that a more imaginative approach would entail embracing the challenge of maintaining a individual design vision and low purchase cost while harnessing a wider skill-set and imagination-space. Heck, it might even be fun!

So did David’s involvement make Scrivener half the program it was and/or did a dictatorial regime eventuate - No ? So when does TMCSTB theory kick in? After two cooks? Three? Four?

I think you could find a way.

Take integrating subversion for a simple but salient example amongst probably many (albeit more interesting) additions. The lack of solid Subversion support really scuppers the use of Scrivener within versioned projects. This could hardly be called a bell or a whistle given that the actual day to day operation of Scrivener would be absolutely imperceptible with this added functionality. What such support would enable however, is to integrate state of the art and free version control software, open up the possibility for many many users to integrate Scrivener into their workflow, and perhaps even inspire new collective writing projects … in short, leverage thousands of man years work onto your own project. Why would anyone not at least even consider the remote possibility that this could be beneficial, exciting even - but of course, an explanation is immediate; by TMCSTB - if KB can’t do it then it’s not worth doing. QED. Finito. Sorry for being facetious but really, isn’t it obvious the utter failure of imagination this represents?

Actually after using Quicksilver and now LaunchBar, I think command line invocation, and the natural language leverage it embodies could be the natural finishing point for all learning curves that flexibly start with icons/menus. I’m convinced that a Scrivener-specific LB-type command line interface could do wonders for efficiency, but … not doable under TMCSTB - line of thought terminated :slight_smile:

Others might argue that Mathematica is THE most intuitive software ever created - including the organization of its documentation. They might also say that Mathematica is screwy in other ways ( independent developer support, business models, certain experimental paradigms etc). There is not much point here going down the well-trodden path of software flames suffice to say more objectivity is probably needed in defining ``intuitiveness” (number of users, time taken to complete tasks, number of new applications created etc) which raises the question of whether any large scale/small scale usability tests done with Scrivener? Sorry … ruled out by TMCSTB.

What an odd thing to say. I would have thought that most developers and users would be interested in the diverse areas in which their software of choice is used. In fact, maybe one could go further and use “unexpected applications” as an criteria for its evaluation since it somehow indicates the generality and soundness of the underlying design.


Anyway,we can argue about this until the cows cark and I seem to be upsetting too many people here when my intention was just to make Scrivener even better and part of an ongoing tool set. I respect that an originator has the right to enjoy his baby in any way he sees fit and also for an accompanying groupthink to emerge amongst his users (sorry- can’t help myself!) I have never said anything different - so I’ll finish up here with a falsifiable conjecture that perhaps we can all agree on (which is hardly original given the entire history of software development) and for which, naturally, I hope I’m wrong.

Maintain current TMCSTB ideology and by 2016 Scrivener will be no more. Jettison it and it will be going gangbusters. I will check back in then, mad druid spells and wayward buses permitting :smiling_face:



Er, David doesn’t do any of the coding or design. See our about page. He’s the tea boy.

Is the cheque in the post?

Again: brilliant.

Are you promising not to insult me for seven more years? Deal! (If this is how you deal with people in the real world then thank goodness for the internet.)

Anyway, thank you for your superior tone, know-it-all attitude and for telling me how to run my business. Hallelujah, I have verily seen the light. See you in 2016. Hopefully by then you will have chilled out a little and come to understand that not everyone wants or has to fit in with your (dare I say it!) extremely narrow view of how the world should be run.

“Peace” indeed.

More likely ruled out by financial constraints. Unless you’re willing to personally fund such a study, of course.

In case you hadn’t noticed, seven years is an eternity in the software business. Even with its disastrous (according to you) business model, you expect Scrivener to last longer than the vast majority of niche applications? High praise indeed.

FWIW, my experience with most open source applications is that they were open-sourced because the developer got bored, and only a handful of people even look at the code. They’re dead applications, only lacking a decent burial. Linux and Firefox are NOT good models for something like Scrivener to emulate.