Three wishes (Scrivener for Windows)

Hi,

I have three wishes for features which would greatly improve Scrivener for Windows for me:

1.) Show titles in Scrivenings

2.) In full screen view, show title of document and titles of its parents
Why: so you will be remembered what to focus on. This will also be of great help when switching to next/previous documents.

3.) Hierarchical auto-numbering of documents in the binder and Scrivening titles
Why: I bought scrivener to support my writing process. Auto-numbering means I don’t have to do it myself, thus can stay in my writing flow and have more resources to focus on content.
Right now, auto-numbering only happens in compile i.e. after writing. For that I would to have to add markup tags in my titles which do not mean anything at the moment I am writing yet are distracting.

Recently many new features were added for compiling options, which I don’t care about as I will have to re-do layout in Word/Indesign anyhow. I’d be super happy if my three wishes were granted since all of them directly improve the process of writing.

Thanks for the feedback!

  1. Yup, that’s already on the list of things to be implemented in the future. We hope to make this so that you can both see and edit the section names in the Scrivenings session.
  2. This information is available by hitting Shift-Ctrl-I (that’s a capital ‘i’). This just pops up a floating Inspector with all of that information, so naturally the index card at the top of it will tell you where you are. Shift-Ctrl-I toggles it off again too, so you can just tap it twice to glance at it and then dismiss it if you don’t want it floating around.
  3. The problem of numbering things is something we have on the longer-term list for thinking about. It’s a little more complicated than it might seem on the surface, because the outline that you see in the binder may not necessarily be anything like the topology of the headings that are generated by compile (let alone any numbers that are produced within the text or in binder titles!). Just to provide a very simple example of what I mean, what happens if your compile settings are using a Collection as the source? That could mean that only a scattering of files throughout the Draft are actually being used to generate the final document. So what about all of the others not included? Simply running a sequence counter in the outliner and corkboard view would not at all be representative of the output. Another simple example is if you select a section in the draft and in the Inspector disable its “Include in Compile” checkbox. Perhaps you decide that section isn’t necessary, so by checking the box you snip it out of the draft. Does the numbering skip over that? But what if your compile settings are set to include all documents, regardless of this checkbox? There is also performance to consider, if the number is actually representative of anything coming out of the compiler, and not just some abstract increment in the displays, then all of this counting and deciding what does or doesn’t get counted would need to be done in real-time as you work, and right now the only way to get a comprehensive and accurate count off of the placeholders is to do a full compile! Why? You might have <$n> counters in the text documents themselves, incrementing counters that are otherwise generated by the compiler. We can’t assume that someone is only going to be working in one very narrow, specific way or the accuracy of the feature is lost and it becomes meaningless. To get a grasp on the performance problems of calculating from a full background compile, try loading up the Project Statistics panel on a +80,000 word project and see how long it takes to paginate for the stats. That’s how long you would have to wait for the binder to update the numbering each time you moved, created, or removed an outline component.

There could be some solutions to these problems, but they would most likely involve some fairly extensive re-wiring of the current system so that these numbers can be calculated and indexed in a more efficent manner. Another solution is that the numbers would just get out of date as you work. We have such a system in place on the Mac right now for Inspector footnotes (as you can play with in the new beta). When you compile, all of the footnotes are counted up and this number is printed in the footnote box so you can cross-reference the print-out with the software. However this is a cached number. If you remove a footnote or move one around, the cache degrades in accuracy. So caching the generated numbers is another approach, but is probably even more prone to problems than cached footnote numbers (which are likely to shift around less than sectional numbering).

For the moment, a reasonably efficient solution to this problem, in my opinion, is attained by using creating an “Outline” version of your compile settings. By that I mean, just save your current settings as a preset, then visit the Formatting pane and disable all bulk text output, leaving only the titles. Now you have a concise outline that matches the precise output of your book. You can doctor that up in a manner similar to the “Enumerated Outline” preset, if you want, which would indent by depth so that it isn’t all coming out in a flat list. In fact you could even start with that preset and tweak it so that the heading output matches your normal output. If for instance only folders and file groups generate headings, you could just delete all of the text document levels from the Formatting pane, and remove the Title checkmark and title prefix, leaving it so that text files output nothing.

All right, so you have this preset set up. Compile to RTF and then drop the compiled file back into the binder at the top for your reference. Now you have a 100% accurate numbered list at your fingertips whenever you need it.

Wow that must the most concise reply I ever got!

@1. That’s great, looking forward to it

@2. For me (others might see this different) the full-screen view serves as a distraction-free Writeroom / Darkroom like writing environment. Putting a floating window on top of it defies its purpose. Ideally, for me, there would a toggle for permanently displaying just the current document title, (and maybe its parent documents), at the top of the full-screen view or left/right of the text field. Kind of like having the chapter title on top of a book page so one can see at a glance where they are.

@3. About the auto-numbering feature:
Basically I’d like it to just simply number whatever documents are in the binder, and show these numbers next to the titles binder and scrivening view.The auto-numbering I propose only has to be coherent with the current document structure, as seen in the binder, and automatically update when a document is moved up or down. That way it would immediately help in organizing text elements.
A more complicated version might allow users to individually include/exclude documents from this numbering, with a toggle switch. Personally however I would not even need that option.

In other words, I see auto-numbering within the writing environment as a useful and necessary device for organizing scrivenings. It should not attempt to be WYSIWYG, i.e. it should be independent of compile options. Just as corkboard cards, outliner rows and scrivening documents are, neither of which are reflected 1:1 in the compiled text.

Maybe I am asking for things which are quite unique to my workflow -
but at least for me, they’d be a big help :wink:

I might not have stated myself clearly in answer to (2). The title info can be glanced at quickly by toggling the floating inspector on and off again. It does not need to stay on the screen once you are done with it. You can go back to the distraction-free look in less than a second. I’m not sure how that is in opposition to a distraction free environment, since the Inspector doesn’t do anything other than display information about your work in this section. It’s not like it has ads or something. :slight_smile: So I think I’m missing something here. Whatever the case, I don’t think information HUDs will be added to the background in the future; Keith has never shown any interest in adding data to the background. That seems more distracting to me than calling on a piece of interface when you need it (if you need it, you are already distracted, though by stuff relevant to the work at hand, so it’s not like the sort of distraction this screen is trying to avoid—endless Wikipedia browsing and such). If anything we would add information to the control strip at the bottom—but again that’s an overlay you bring up and it goes away, so I’m not sure what it would accomplish over glancing at the Inspector and then hiding it.

If basic sectional numbering of the interface components is fine, not meant to be a compile reference, then this is much more likely in the future. We already have plans for numbers on corkboards, and this might be extended to the outliner as well.

I do know of the binder window in full screen, it caused me to make that wish. Personally I’d wish for the title to be shown in a more convenient way if the user desires so. Just like the title of a scrivening is on top of the text in editor view, or like the title bar of a window in a desktop operating system is above the content, or like the chapter title can be found above the text on the pages of a printed book. In Scrivener, a document is always part of a larger structure. I would find it useful to have that structural information always immediately available, in a way that does not come with visual bloat.

On the numbering, it would be great if there was the same simple auto-numbering sequence in cork-board, editor, binder and outliner. Since all these views already show titles, probably the easiest way to achieve this is to treat the numbers as prefix of document titles.

Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to my feedback. I love scrivener for supporting my writing process, and even more for not obstructing my workflow. It is really great and unique in the way it liberates the writing process from publishing concerns. Keep up the good work!

Well I’ll put it on the list for consideration. Would you feel it functional enough if the title were displayed in the control strip, say above the word/char statistics? There are writers who keep that open by leaving the mouse at the bottom, so they can keep an eye on word count.