Thank You! and three improvement requests

Hello Keith and the rest of the L&L clan,

Before anything else, I would like to extend a sincere “Thank You” for developing and maintaining such an incredible program!

I have been using Scrivener constantly for over almost a year, and am more impressed with each passing day. It has proven to be unbelievably stable, reliable and bug free. Our Macintosh version of Scrivener has not once crashed or otherwise misbehaved.

I would like to share the following comments about the ways that I use Scrivener daily to streamline my workflow. I also have a three feature requests for your consideration, that I will discuss, below.

Advocating Scrivener primarily for long documents is really a disservice to this incredibly flexible, but remarkably uncluttered program. It actually excels in handling multiple small documents. I find it beneficial to manage multiple projects within one Scrivener document. A Scrivener document is almost always open on my Mac desktop. Writing, per se, is not my primary vocation. I am mostly involved with simultaneously juggling, managing and refining complicated multifaceted projects and tasks. The Binder, along with Scrivener’s inherent rock-solid stability and data safeguards, allows me to keep information organized and instantly available within one document window. Because of this unique ability, it is a snap to quickly compile scrivenings and data into reports, emails etcetera. The fact that one can effortlessly non-contiguously select items in the Binder for compilation, is an absolute godsend.

All of Scrivener’s attributes make it excellent for technical, engineering, laboratory and medical documentation, especially projects that need regular, periodic entries – neatly catalogued, searchable, and instantly accessible via the Binder. It is also great for developing computer programming code. Each modular piece of code can easily be accessed, modified, duplicated, rearranged, and be combined with others, at will.

Because my workflow is a bit different from those of a typical writer, I have a three requests for enhancements to Scrivener that would be very helpful. I feel that they would likely be quite useful for most users. I have tried to put these suggestions in order of importance, at least from my point of view.

For me, Scrivener’s most conspicuously missing feature is the lack of a true “outliner”. Because of this, I typically have to resort to using a note page from another of my favorite programs, Notebook (Circus Ponies Software). This allows me to brainstorm, using single words or snippets of text of any length, easily rearranged in a hierarchical manner by dragging & dropping. This works well except when the time comes to transfer that information into Scrivener. It always ends up being a cumbersome process with way too many steps, along with the fact that one loses the easily manipulated “outliner” mode of editing and rearranging. I have seen suggestions to do outlining via the Binder, but that ends up being at least as cumbersome and very inefficient. It would be like suggesting to do it in the OS-X Finder. I have given considerable thought to the creation of an elegant outlining solution within Scrivener. I think it would be most useful to place this “outliner” function as a new, additional entity within the Inspector Pane. That way, one could have an outliner “page” of unlimited (variable) length for any item in the Binder, or a “general” one that would be tied to the entire Scrivener document, similar to the way “Document Notes” works. As an alternative, this “outliner” functionality could probably be implemented as an option to ”Document Notes”, but I figured it would possibly be easier for you to program, and be more useful to have it instead, as an additional item in the Inspector pane. If desired, one could non-contiguously select items from this new “outliner” function and drag them to:
(1) a scrivening text pane. This would copy and insert the items as tabbed text, completely compatible with any other text, formatting, and compiling functions that are currently available to the contents of that pane.
Or (2), if dragged to a location in the Binder, they would be copied and converted to Binder items, maintaining the hierarchical structure they had in the “outliner”. At that point one could rename/rearrange the added Binder items and move on from there.
Or (3) to or from Scapple! I think it would be dynamite to add compatible outlining functionality to Scapple along with drag & drop / copy & paste compatibility with Scrivener in both directions, while maintaining the hierarchical structure and ability to re-arrange items at will in either program.
I’m confident that you can come up with an appropriate name for this “outliner” feature, as it can be used as that, a task manager, “brainstormer”, to-do list, etc.

I yearn for the ability to have multiple Research folders in the Binder. That way I could nest appropriate support documentation in any folder in the Binder, pertaining to just that folder. The additional Research folders would always retain the distinctive Research folder icon, but could be renamed as desired. Naturally these additional Research folders and their contents would retain the existing behavior of not being included in compilations, even if they were inadvertently selected for inclusion. Additional Research folders would be add via the main menu or the green “+” button.

I would like to see the ability to add a colored identifier to individual Binder items, as desired. This would add a powerful new dimension of functionality to the Binder. It would add a function similar to the way OS-X’s file “tagging” feature works. After all, the Binder is really just an extension of the Finder, and a portal into it. Nothing fancy or complicated required, just the option to pick from a handful of tasteful pastel colors.

Thank you for allowing this opportunity to share my thoughts on improvements to your products. Keep up the great work!

Bob Z.