Some Feedback

I’ve been using Scrivener for a while now (for Windows), and am really loving it. I don’t know what is slated for development for the Windows version, but I’d like to throw out my personal wish list:

  1. Freeform Corkboard (I know it’s on its way)
  2. Swimlanes in Corkboard - I want to be able to group my cards together, but I’d like to be able to freely move cards between folders as necessary. Being able to use the split view is nice, but I’d like to be able to view folders in swimlanes by level.
  3. Expand All in Corkboard - I’d like to be able to interact with cards when they’ve all been opened on the corkboard. For example, I have a bunch of cards on my board, and a stack of cards; I’d like to be able to click on the stack of cards, and have the sub-cards display, without leaving the current view. Having them display below, or even to the right.
  4. Vertical Orientation in Corkboard - An extension of the swimlanes, I’d like to view cards from top to bottom, instead of being stuck with left-to-right.
  5. Expand All in Outline View - Maybe this feature is already there and I’ve missed it?
  6. Collections in Corkboard - I’d like to track a sub-plot, and show all scenes related to that subplot (that I have in a collection) on the corkboard, and be able to interact with it.
  7. MS Word Core for Editing - I hope this isn’t too blasphemous, but I have recently been enjoying using Scrivener to work on technical documents for my job. I find it truly amazing for this, but at some point or another, I always have to compile the project, and then finish it in Word. The reason is the limited formatting features available. I don’t know how that could possibly work, technically, or how poorly it would perform at the end of the day, but maybe there would be a way to have Scrivener writing to one or more Word document files instead.
  8. Custom Meta-Data with Dropdown Lists - I know custom meta data is on its way, and I’ve seen the video on it; it’d be nice to be able to create a dropdown list as a custom, meta-data field.
  9. Ability to Keep Document Notes Active on Corkboard - When you expand all to the corkboard, and you click on a particular card, the default option is to enter notes for the PROJECT notes instead of the document notes. You can click the little arrow thing to switch it to document notes, but as soon as you move to another card, you are switched back to project notes. It’s pretty frustrating.
  10. Ability to Move Cards when Project w/Subdocuments Are Opened on Corkboard - Right now, if I click on the manuscript, and choose “open all w/subs” it shows all the cards, but does not let me move them.

And, just some general feedback, the interaction between the binder, the outliner, the corkboard–it’s all very messy. When I have two panes open, for example, outliner on left, document renders on right, I’m always having trouble bouncing between them. The ways the views switch, and the interaction between them is fickle and unintuitive. I feel like there needs to be some ground-up redesign of the UI. I’m not saying go crazy, and do something stupid like the Ribbon, or something horrifying like the Metro UI, but I think it’s time to really consider it. This kind of thing happens when I work on applications too; features get added that complicate the UI, until it becomes a shambling Frankenstein. I feel like Scrivener has begun to shamble a bit. That make sense?

Anyway, I’m such a Scrivener fan I almost bought a Mac JUST to use with Scrivener. If I only used Scrivener for fiction writing, I might have done it. But, I must be able to use it on my work PC as well.

Truly, I think Scrivener is the future of word processing; merging the organization with the writing, and decoupling it from the formatting with the compiler is pretty brilliant. Long gone are my days of using OneNote + index cards + highlighters + stickers + magnetic whiteboard + corkboard + MS Word–I’m not even kidding. Scrivener recreated my process so closely it’s uncanny.

Now, one question: when is Scrivener 2.0 coming to Windows? Do you guys have even a rough date? Anything at all will keep me going.

And 11) Ability to set Label and Status on multiple cards at a time. Right now, if you select multiple items in the binder, you can change the status of those items at once. This does not work in Outliner or Corkboard views.

For this latter, on the Mac you can select all the items, then right-click on one of them and you get a drop-down menu which enables you to change them all at once … does that not happen in the Windows version?

Mr X

Only on the binder. Does not work in Corkboard or Outline view.


  1. Sorting and Filtering for Outliner and Corkboard. Self explanatory. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the feedback!

As with Freeform, this is planned as well, in both columnar and row format.

The closest thing we have for this is already implemented in Windows, and that is the [b]Documents/Open/with All Subdocuments as Flat List/[/b] sub-menu, which offers the option to load all cards for the selected ones in a split, as well. This is as far as we’ll go with the concept—for more detailed outline management the outliner is really where you should be for this.

I’m not sure if I understand the complaint with the latter solution. Nearly everything is going to have to route through various pieces of software as it evolves into a final product. This is not an unusual necessity. As for using Word for the editor, we would not want to force people to have to buy Word to use our software, that raises the effective cost of it considerably, and chains us to the mercy of Microsoft’s whims (what if they abandon Office entirely to a website version?) which is a position we do not want to be in.

Yes, [b]View/Outline/Expand All[/b]. You’ll find a few other useful commands there as well.

Yup, that’s in the general future plans for both platforms.

That’s actually a bug. That is not how it is designed to work. Corkboards comprised of a multiple selection should have the same fundamental behaviour as corkboards that are views of groups.

Right, that is because you are looking at multiple selection, not a physical view. If you read the header bar this is what you will see. There is nowhere to move the cards to, a multiple selection may be linear, but it may not be, they may represent a selection of items from all over the binder, and even in a linear selection, a flat corkboard is an abstraction of the true hierarchical layout. Again, the corkboard was never really designed to be a large-scale organiser, that is what the outliner is for. It is possible to view the entire draft at once in the outliner and edit the overall layout of items.

As for the general feedback on the UI, I’m afraid I’ll need specific examples of what you are finding troublesome, as I don’t know what is the precise problem with “bouncing between them” for instance. I find it very easy to switch splits and do so constantly all day long. It could be there are some subtle puzzle-pieces missing (contrary to your example, not all feature addition increase the burden of using a program, in fact some can greatly reduce the burden of using a program).

Thanks for the overall kind words and again, for taking the time to write all of this out.

No problem. I love Scrivener, and am converting people to it weekly. :slight_smile:

I like the outliner, but that’s not how I think creatively. When I work on a story, I literally re-arrange index cards on a large desk, before moving to a magnetic whiteboard. That’s how I organize. I’ll have cards that represent sections, or lines drawn on the whiteboard and create and move cards around. Right now, with Scrivener, I just create a blank card with a name and label it with Section (instead of creating a folder), then move cards around that way, simply because you can’t work with cards in a hierarchy in Scrivener’s corkboard.

It’s not a complaint, it’s a desired feature. And I did not mean for Scrivener to only use MS Word, I was looking for the option. There are other programs that allow you to choose an optional word processor instead of their bundled one. These are vastly inferior programs that don’t have the same complexity as Scrivener. What I don’t like is that when I have to move on to Word do all the exhibits, and then comments on the document require some structural changes, I can’t go back to Scrivener without a lot of labor. I’m just saying, I love Scrivener, and rather than see you guys waste time developing all those formatting features of other word processors, maybe you could create a way so that users could use another word processor core in place of the scrivener editor. Does that make sense?

The cards are expanded out, with each folder being represented on the board. While it is flat in layout (just as all cards are on the corkboard right now), the structure is there. If you move a card beneath another folder card, the card would appear there. I’m not discussing anything more complex than that. :slight_smile:

Clicking on an item with the wrong split view active will mess up what I’m doing. This happens a lot. I often keep outliner open in left view, and the document contents in the right, but I’m always having to reset my views. The default action of opening a card in the editor when you click on it in the binder, even with corkboard selected, seems counter-intuitive to me. That’s the kind of stuff I’m talking about. Maybe you guys are just so familiar with it you don’t even think about it; or maybe the Mac version is a little smother in this regard. Actually, that might be it; of my four writing friends who use Scrivener, the only one who doesn’t complain about the UI is the one using a Macbook. :slight_smile:

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that there is a minimum level of complexity to make Scrivener do what it needs to do. However, I’m not convinced that the UI is as elegant as it could be. If this comes off as too personal of a complaint, I apologize. It just seems that Scrivener has reached that critical mass of features and would benefit from the developers maybe setting aside a day to brainstorm. You know, “If we were going to start over from scratch with the UI, how would we do it?” Have a bunch of feature cards, throw them around on a board, draw some new ideas, and kick out the poo-pooers who say “yes, but” to everything. :slight_smile: I’m often surprised that when I let go of the concern about how much work something might take, and design as if I had infinite time and resources, I can often come up with something that’s doable and reasonable.

Anyway, I hope that clears that up.

Now, did you say there’s a way to expand-all in the outliner? I don’t see that option. Every time I reset my outliner view, I have to manually click on each folder to expand it.

Understood and appreciated! I think once we have row based corkboards and stackable corkboards (think Scrivenings mode for corkboards) implemented things will be easier for you to combine the corkboard metaphor with larger-scale management.

Interestingly enough, I use the same technique you do, of having a “section” break card in between other cards. However for me it is for another purpose: when you compile you can choose to separate all text files with a blank space (or other scene break), but that is a hard toggle for all text document seams. That means I can’t break a scene down into sub-scene files in the binder and still use that automated feature, because every time I tell myself as an author that I want to break to a new turn in the scene, a blank line will be inserted. So I have to turn the automatic separator off and use the scene break cards to print the break themselves. I then just shuffle those around to determine where the breaks fall within the chapter.

I guess what I am trying to say is: I don’t necessarily think that what you are doing is all that bad. You’re using a technique that lets you use the corkboard and binder that way you work best creatively, and thankfully the system is flexible enough to allow that. If working on a flat surface with less hierarchy is what works best for you: then by all means do it. I know some people that don’t use any hierarchy at all. Everything is on “level 1” of the Draft folder.

Again, I think it will get better once you have more corkboard modes to choose from. That’s one of those things where I mean a new feature can alleviate burden. It’s just a small transparent thing that you’ll never even see a button or menu command for—until you ctrl-click on more than one container (chapter/etc) at once. Then suddenly your corkboard reacts to that and presents the information in a new fashion that suits what you are doing. We’re a fan of interfaces that disappear if you aren’t using them.

Granted, but there are other scenarios where a multiple selection would have to be more complex than that. Would hierarchy be something you can break with this kind of movement? By that I mean if you move something that contains other things, and those things are represented on the corkboard, if you are only moving the container, would the three or whatever contained cards also move when you let go of the mouse? What if you selected the container and the first two of its child cards, but not the third? What about cases where you are dragging a card in between one that is on level 5 of the outline and another that is on level 2? Would the card be a sibling of the level 2 item it precedes, a sibling of the level 5 card it follows, or a level 6 child of that card?

Perhaps there are ways around this, the cards get bigger or smaller, or indent or outdent, or fold out—etc. These options have all be thought about quite a bit in the past, and Keith never really found a combination of ideas that struck him as holding true to the elegant usage of the corkboard. They all made it too complicated and potentially fragile to use. It’s easier to just cut off all movement in an arbitrary selection of cards.

You mean clicking on a scene in the binder would open as a blank corkboard? I could see cases where that would be desirable, when just doing pure outlining, but this would be a very confusing result to most people (many of whom are not even aware that you can slide files beneath other files as though they were folders), or worse, the Outliner, which when empty roughly resembles a blank text editor. We actually did have problems with that before this was cleaned up a bit. It’s one of those ideas that sounds good on paper, but once you have thousands of people using it all day, it becomes an endless support issue.

If you mean clicking on a section that already has children, and wanting to see a corkboard by default instead of its text contents, then you can actually change that behaviour in the Navigation options, with “Treat all documents with children as folders”. I use this setting myself—I rarely use folders.

I would say that is potentially a factor (both sides of that statement). There are a lot of small areas of refinement that will overall fill in the gaps as time goes by. The overall design is, I would say, pretty much intact and complete on Windows. That is what we set out to do and I think they’ve done an excellent job of doing so thus far. Hopefully that is reassuring, as you say you like how it is designed right now, just wish that it were glued together a little more elegantly. That’s how I read you anyway, and if that is what you are saying then I think the direction of how things are going will suit you. We already have most of the big pieces in place, but there is a lot of glueing left to do. I guess what I mean is: expect less in radical changes (though there are still a few tricks to come, like freeform corkboards), expect more gradual improvement to the existing tools.

And as for we who’ve been with the project from the start, we’ve seen it go from fledgling status to what it is today and evolved with it, over the course of about seven years now. So yeah, there is definitely a modicum of “what we’re used to…” going on. :slight_smile: Whether or not that is bad is another question. That’s just going to happen with any tool you use daily for over half a decade.

As for throwing everything out and starting over. That can be a useful exercise now and then (especially on a small scale; we’ve recently done that with the preferences dialogue box on the Mac; just threw it all out and put it back together again, and I think with good result), or a thought experiment, but it is very rare that this kind of overhaul actually ends up net positive. Best case you end up with something like Mac OS X, a marked improvement over OS 9. Worst case you have a littered landscape of the many programs that have turned themselves inside out and are now abandonware. I think it is good to recognise that a certain formula has caused a program to go from being an unknown utility that some dude has on his website, to something you can find books on in a bookstore, and a fair number of people know about. Throwing out that formula is very risky business: you’re basically telling everyone that has adopted the software thus far that they’ve done so for the wrong reasons, and they might not agree with you on that!

Anyway, this is getting a bit academic. :slight_smile: I hope you take my discussion in the light I mean it: as an interesting chat, rather than argumentative or defensive. I love thinking about the UI and how it can be improved. The flat corkboard in particular is one area I’ve given a lot of thought over the years (mostly to no effect).

Thanks for sharing Scrivener with your writing network by the way!

I am very much looking forward to that. My own process is to arrange the cards from top to bottom, and create columns of cards, which probably makes that sub-categorization more self-evident than the way I’m doing it now with Scrivener. My wife actually does something very similar, and I think it’s why she hasn’t taken to Scrivener just yet; she has an actual corkboard in her office, and her index cards are arranged vertically.

I mostly do that as well. The novel I’m working on has 3 major parts, and each part has a number of sub-sections, but I don’t have folders created for those sub-sections because I need to be able to move cards between them freely, so most everything is just on the same level so I can have visibility to it. When I use a whiteboard, I draw irregular, vertical swimlanes, then pin the cards to the board with magnets, and move them around as needed.


Granted, but there are other scenarios where a multiple selection would have to be more complex than that. Would hierarchy be something you can break with this kind of movement? By that I mean if you move something that contains other things, and those things are represented on the corkboard, if you are only moving the container, would the three or whatever contained cards also move when you let go of the mouse? What if you selected the container and the first [i]two[/i] of its child cards, but not the third? What about cases where you are dragging a card in between one that is on level 5 of the outline and another that is on level 2? Would the card be a sibling of the level 2 item it precedes, a sibling of the level 5 card it follows, or a level 6 child of that card?

I can see the issue with moving multiple cards at a time; with the wiki I use at work, a situation like that is resolved by putting the abandoned children at the root level with a notification. As far as moving one card beneath another, it should work the same as it does on the corkboard; becoming a child of the parent you place it beneath. As far as other issues, like dragging a folder at level two beneath a folder at level 5 of the same branch, the wiki I use has a rule for that: when you remove parents, all children are moved up in the hierarchy, so in that situation, if you moved level two beneath level 5, level 3 would be promoted to level 2, with cascading promotions beneath. Those aren’t my proposed solutions, those are just how one piece of software handles the same situations.

In an arbitrary selection, sure, it’s more complicated. But, what about just allowing us to choose a level and view all children? You could have folders represented as headings of a top row, and their children displayed vertically as a column beneath them. Dip one level for each sub-section of cards. Just an idea.

With the work documents I use Scrivener to draft, I often place cards beneath other cards. If I click on a card in the binder, wanting to see all the children of that card, I instead see the document, and have to click the corkboard button to see the cards. When I want to see the document of that parent card, I don’t want to only see the text of the parent, I’d like to also see the text of the sub-cards as well, which means clicking another button. I’m just saying, if I’ve selected the corkboard view, and am clicking on various parents (folders or cards) in the binder, the default behavior is different depending on the type of item, regardless of the view I’ve selected. I’m not suggesting that cards with no children should show up as a blank corkboard by default, I’m just suggesting that the current behavior of automatic mode switching is irregular and does not match the expected behavior.

I often switch to corkboard on an index card with the intent of creating sub-cards for it. Or create cards then decide they belong beneath another card, drag them there, then go to the card, then switch it manually back to corkboard mode. This is with work documents, not fiction writing. I use the outliner more. With fiction writing this isn’t an issue since the only time I put cards beneath other cards is when it’s a problem card, or an idea card–the contents of which I will eventually merge into the parent card.

Ooooh, see, I should have read your whole post before replying. So that’s what that means–that it’ll switch to corkboard by default when you click a parent? I did not know what that option meant. Thanks!

Yes, that is exactly what I am saying. The core functionality of this program does everything I need, and I’m very impressed with it, and I’m looking forward to upcoming changes. Now, if I just knew how far away they were. :slight_smile:

I’d rather Scrivener stay exactly as it is, rather than get a ribbon. ^^ I appreciate the caution. I just like to think that sometimes there’s one, over-arching solution that can neatly solve many of the tiny problems. I dunno, it just nags me a bit; I feel like there’s a UI modus hiding somewhere that would fit Scrivener well.

Absolutely. My posts are only so long and labored because I’m procrastinating my work. :slight_smile:

No problem. I’d like to see Scrivener branch out more with PC users, since most of my writing friends are PC users (writers typically not having a lot of money). Forcing someone to choose between Apple and Microsoft is a bit like asking me to choose between George W. Bush and John Kerry; there’s just no decision I’m going to be ultimately happy with. ^^

Stackable corkboards? Is this something yet to be introduced on any platform? I know on the Mac you can CMD-click on multiple containers and they will show up in the cork board as alternating rows, but I love the idea of that being done in the way Scrivenings mode is invoked on a container (just clicking the icon with the container selected).

Enjoying reading the feedback, and the way others use the tool. I’ll simply add, that my most-desired feature for the Windows version, by far, is syncing. I bought Index Card for my iPad, not realizing it only worked with the Mac version. I’ve tried other workarounds, and have finally given up using Scrivener until the iPad version comes out, or the Windows version can sync with Index Card, or both.

My main writing activity is trying to keep five blogs current and fresh. The ability to capture an idea on the fly in my iPad, then flesh it out later in Scrivener, would be wonderful. For now, I’m still thrashing around with various text and Word files in Dropbox, and not happy with any of it.

I know everyone is working hard on getting both the iPad and the new Windows versions out the door, and being involved in software development myself, I appreciate the “it’s done when it’s done” situation. That said, if sending cookies, wine, or money will help accelerate the process, give me an address and it will be on its way! :slight_smile:

I thought it might be more useful to collect specific issues. I don’t know if you guys do a lot of capturing from the forums, but here’s my contribution:

  • Outliner view has a button on the header that allows you to select which fields you want visible. You must click this button after every change. Would be nice if it just stayed open until you clicked it again.

  • When you select card or folder and right-click–>Add–>New Text from the Binder, the new text is created on the same level as the selected card/folder, instead of on the level below, which is the expected behavior.

  • When you select a card or a folder and right-click–>Add–>New Text from the Outliner view, it creates the new text at the top level, regardless of what you have selected.

  • There is no expand-all option in Outliner view, and the Outliner does not remember your previous selections. You must manually expand each section, and all subsections again when you switch back to the Outliner. (I accidentally clear my Outliner when I right-click an item in the Binder about 9384759384578345 times a day).

Don’t worry, none of us here like ribbons either. :slight_smile:

Sorry, that’s what I meant. I only meant to compare it to Scrivenings in so far as it presents information in a “stack”, which would ordinarily otherwise only be presented individually. Maybe not a bad idea to have that icon there in the footer bar though. Hmm.

Why wouldn’t Scrivener be good for this? I must be missing a key component of what you are doing, because to me it seems as though using some kind of convenient program on your phone or tablet to capture ideas (hey, I just e-mail and that fantastic little utility called Zipnote) and dropping these notes into the Binder at the end of the day is more than good enough. That isn’t a “workaround”, that’s a valid and efficient way of getting work done.

I have a Mac and have access to the sync features, and honestly I don’t even use them for what you are describing. I do exactly what I just offered as a solution above. If I have an idea and I’m not writing it down with pen and paper, I’m e-mailing it to myself with Zipnote (I have a filter that handle these on my client so I can just click once to export them as files) and dropping the files as notes into the Binder when I get home.

Done. I see the desire for syncing, especially if one needs to go in two directions a lot, or has too many individual resources to make manual handling feasible, but for what you are describing: one guy with ideas capturing ideas on a glass keyboard (i.e. they are probably short and sweet), why do you need anything more fancy than some files somewhere that you can drag and drop into Scrivener? What is Word giving you, on the computer, that is superior?

Thanks for the collection, Wat. We do in fact collect everything that is reported on the forums and keep a master list of all the issues that need to be resolved.

My earlier point was that I wanted work done on one device to show up on another device. I don’t want to import/export, copy/paste, or anything like that. I want to either
A) use Scrivener on both iPad and laptop, syncing through Dropbox, or
B) use Index Card on iPad and Scrivener on laptop, syncing through Dropbox.

For now, I get a portion of this by using Polaris Office on iPad and Word on laptop. But, both are too heavy for both quick capture and final work. Index Card would be great as a front end to the process, and Scrivener would be great for the backend.

So, I am anxiously waiting for Scrivener on iPad AND New Scrivener on Windows with sync to Index Card.

Ribbons are very attractive when they are around packages. They look wonderful in hair. (Well, not mine, but then I don’t have any.)

May the heavens shower you all with blessings unending for not liking them in software. :slight_smile:

(And would that the Evil Empire felt the same. But don’t get me started.)

Very interesting discussion. I too am looking forward to row-based corkboards and custom metadata, which will significantly improve my workflow.

At present the best way I’ve found to start structuring my complex, multi-threaded narratives is to use tables. Once I get to a certain level of complexity, (roughly when the table gets too big to fit on the screen) I have to transfer everything onto cards - one cell to a card. A laborious process, but not impossible with some macros. I’d prefer to start using cards, but I simply can’t get enough of them on the screen. So I have some additional requests:

1 A toggle to hide the card headers, so all you see is the synopsis. (Perhaps some folk would like a toggle to only show the header too).
2 The ability to see the corkboard in full screen.
3 The capacity to align the cards right up against each other, so there is no space between them. I’ve raised this before, but please don’t blow me off! This is partly about getting more on the screen, but it’s partly about treating the cork-board as a sophisticated table. Once the columns and rows are manipulable as units, I can see the corkboard being a very sophisticated workspace indeed.
4 The capacity to show / not show individual keyword chips (but maybe custom metadata will allow for this?)

This is actually already possible to do if you change the ratio to 1x whatever. You can also change the size of cards, etc. it’s the bottom in the bottom right corner of corkboard view.

It takes half a dozen mouse clicks and playing with two sliders to achieve it, and then the same again to go back to your original layout. What I’m asking for is a toggle to switch from one view to another, so that when I’ve got more cards than I can see on the screen I can switch views, find the ones I want to manipulate, and switch back.

Although there is some capacity to change the spacing between cards, at its lowest setting there are still up to two lines of wasted space between cards, and with some settings a full card-width at the right side.

It seems to me that the issue here is about the visual balance on the corkboard between text, and other stuff like card shadows, icons, background textures, page margins, drop-zones etc. But the whole emphasis of the programme is supposed to be on composing and structuring text, and there are some situations where I need to see as much writing as I can possibly cram on the screen, with no fancy visuals. I appreciate that many users don’t want this (I don’t all the time) - which is why the settings should be optional.