Thoughts at Day 3.

I’m finding Scrivener to be a fascinating and useful – and potentially VERY useful – program. The chances that I won’t wind up buying it are next to nothing.

At the same time, I’m finding its command structure disappointing. Two examples.

Deleting an item is one of the most critical things a program can let you do. In Scrivener, this is done with Shift-Delete, which sends it to the trash, from where if it’s not rescued it will go bye bye the next time the trash is emptied. So doing a delete isn’t a trivial thing.

Yet that same command, Shift-Delete, is used to remove an item from a Collection, which does not in any way “delete” the item from the project, and so inadvertently or even unknowingly removing an item a from collection is fairly low on the list of worst errors a user can make.

Having the same key combination perform both a “real delete” and a relatively inconsequential command that (when you come down to it) shouldn’t even be called delete, doesn’t make much sense. Throw in the fact that the Binder (where real documents get deleted) and Collections (which are just alias lists) share the same pane, and look highly similar (color options notwithstanding), and that the word Binder is used to refer to both the full pane and to one of its internal items, and you’ve added both unnecessary steepness and some degree of risk to the learning curve.

Then the second example.

Saving a currently opened file or project under a different name is one of the most basic tasks of file management. File-Save-as is as second nature as File-New. Far more often than not, the key sequence to Save as is Alt-F, a.

But in Scrivener, Alt-F, a Closes all open projects – which due to constant background saving are unlikely to trigger a prompt to save before closing (does Scrivener even have that? I don’t think I’ve ever seen one), which means that attempting to do a Save as in the same way it’s done virtually everywhere else guarantees that you’ll be dropped to desktop without warning – until you learn that this is how it works. It shouldn’t be necessary to learn something as basic as that specifically for one program, but until you do you’re flirting with forced user-error from an unnecessarily non-standard key sequence.

I know this is all very picky. But I keep finding things like this as I work my way through and try to familiarize myself with Scrivener space… which I really want to do… because I really like the paradigm. But a good paradigm deserves a UI that lets its goodness shine through, especially when these kind of ad hoc-feeling UI characteristics aren’t in any way necessitated by the the paradigm itself – though I suspect that cumulatively they account for some of the rejection of that paradigm by those who mistake a bumpy UI for paradigm weakness, and don’t want the frustration.

So I’m really really liking Scrivener. But there’s some disappointment. I don’t know if it’s like this over on the Mac side – truth is I sometimes think that UI features/stumbles like these are (directly or indirectly) due somehow to the influence of the Mac UI being historically more mouse oriented, with keyboard access, and therefor keyboard navigation and command sequences, suffering as a afterthought. (Photoshop is a classic example of this, having its deepest roots in Cupertino.)

It used to be a lot easier to delete items, for about a month if I remember right. :slight_smile: It turns out, a lot of people hit the delete button before double-checking where they are. They think they are editing text, but they aren’t, and in a flash “my chapter was deleted, where did it go!”. So, now there is a modifier on the delete key, and all of those repeat support requests about vanishing text… vanished.

As for the behaviour in collections: that is a known inconsistency. It should act like removing a keyword from an assignment list with a simple keystroke.

Where do you see it referred to as ‘delete’? The associated menu command is clear about what is happening: Documents/Move to Trash. I must be missing a spot.

It sounds right in theory, but this design has been out in the wild for about three years now (the initial design, before the Windows version even existed, was a bit confusing but that was quickly fixed) and so far I haven’t see any support issues related to confusion over removal vs. trashing something. Probably because Collections are themselves a bit more advanced—you have to dig around to find them. Most people only interact with them on a casual basis through search results (where item removal isn’t possible anyway). We continue to refine this though. I was just working on improving the amount of “communication” here with Keith, earlier this week.

That always trips me up to. You can customise keystrokes in Tools though.

One tangent worth pointing out is that “Save As” in Scrivener is probably much, much less important than in single-document designed programs. The Snapshot feature basically eradicates what most people use Save-As for in stuff like Word. Likewise if all you want is to fire off a milestone save of the whole thing (something that really has no equivalent in Word, though you could do similar in Explorer by compressing your entire WIP folder), it’s better to use File/Back Up/Back Up To…, which creates a copy without relocating you to the new copy.

To be clear, I’m not saying that the assignment we have is best. I’ve been meaning to mention that as well since ‘a’ ends up being used for something somewhat volatile. Alt-f,a is an ancient reflex for me too (though, like I say, learning Ctrl–5 is probably going to do what you want, differently, though better as we keep versions organised for you by date and description and make it easy to partially or fully roll-back pieces of the draft to earlier states.

Well, it’s not constant. It waits passively until you stop doing anything for two seconds, and then it saves while you’re off thinking. The result, for most people, will be very frequent saves, but it’s not constantly hammering the disk. A fast typist in the zone may go many minutes without a save.

But yes, saving always happens implicitly when you close a project. There is no way to deny saved changes, as no state of the project when it was initially opened are stored anywhere. There is nothing to revert to (that is a way more complicated prospect than loading a simple single file off of the drive into RAM and just choosing to flush the RAM copy instead of storing it back to the disk), and hardly anyone is going to want to just revert to the last five words they typed or whatever. It would be a question with an answer nobody expects or wants, really.

There are a few places where I think it is safe to say the Mac influence shines through. The big toolbar is one of them. The ability to check or uncheck ranges of checkboxes with Alt-click is a Mac thing (but I think most would agree that’s a good one to copy, even if it is a bit strange). I wouldn’t say keyboard friendliness is though (that notion comes from a version of the Mac that no longer exists, from the ’80s and ’90s). In fact our main problem is finding ways to bring as many keyboard shortcuts to Windows from the Mac. There is one less modifier key on Windows, and more reserved combinations. Scrivener for Mac has always been very keyboard user friendly, and we do try to bring that over as much as possible to Windows too. Let’s just put it this way, I’m known for being a keyboard maniac over in the Mac sections. I hate using the mouse for anything. There is a lot you can do with a keyboard on a Mac. :slight_smile: Often all the way down to the application level, in programs like Scrivener.

Overall, we do think a lot about each implementation to make sure it is appropriate on Windows. There are some areas where we break convention, no doubt, but when we do so we feel it is for a solid point—like the Alt-click thing. But, as a Mac user for roughly 15 years, and a Linux user before that, I probably have some blind spots. :slight_smile:

Really, the main thing you are sensing is a work in progress. We’re building up the Windows version to match the Mac version (in features, not necessarily in feel, as said) as quickly as we can, so sometimes there are little rough edges here and there where portions of features were left out until later revision and so on, and other places where we know things need to be fixed, but the problem is fairly minor so it’s on a slower schedule. Whatever the source, in nearly every case we are aware of them and intend to fix them.

Anyway, thanks for the feedback. Glad to hear that overall the software is improving your workflow.

Hello, I was browsing as part of my general ‘Scrivener education’ and though I do hot have the same issues as Mad Girl Disease, just want to chime in to thank and appreciate you for your magnificent reply. It consolidates not only my understanding of Scrivener but also of its philosophy and evolution.

Thank you.
Glyn :slight_smile:

You’re welcome!