This post is a rewrite of my previous post, “Typewriter Line Visual Cue,” on this ‘Wish List’ topic. Admittedly, the original post was not as clear as I had hoped, the terminology was not crisp and I expected too much from the reader. Board members lunk, Silverdragon and JimRac have convinced me to try again by rewording my suggestion. I thank them each for their feedback on that post. Here goes…
My suggestion only becomes relevant in my preferred ‘Typewriter Scrolling’ mode, (View=>Text Editing=>Typewriter Scrolling) and I especially like using the composition mode for entering text when I am in the ‘zone.’ (View=>Enter Composition Mode)
My suggestion is for a visual cue, a simple fixed tick mark on the editor screen, that indicates the fixed position of the ‘Typewriter Scrolling’ line (the virtual platen) where text will be entered next on the screen.
Please let me explain to a deeper level of detail than before…
We all know Scrivener to be much more sophisticated than a simple word processor. Yet, at heart, when it comes to entering text, Scrivener operates like a word processor that emulates a typewriter for entering text on a virtual blank piece of paper. My suggestion harkens back to that physical typewriter model.
Referencing my suggestion to a physical typewriter model we see the physical typewriter with the fabled and feared blank sheet of paper wrapped around the roller–which is called a platen. Unlike the word processor, every key on that typewriter smacks the paper at the exact same location, as fixed by the mechanics of the typewriter, itself. The platen is made of a hard rubber layer wrapped around a steel shaft and its entire reason for existence is to absorb the force of the keys hitting the paper and to keep that force from ripping the paper apart. It is the job of the platen mechanics to make sure that the paper is placed under that smack spot to get the right letter of the writer’s text to the right position on the paper by advancing the platen after each entry.
The writer, when writing on an actual typewriter, stares at one spot that is physical typewriter smack spot. In a word processor, conversely, the cursor moves the text entry point across the page and the writer’s attention must follow the cursor.
Note: Space for a new line is created on an actual machine when the platen rolls the paper up to present an empty line for entering new text. The Scrivener word processor works virtually the same in the Typewriter Scrolling mode since the text on a screen appears to scroll up to present a new line for entering text. For our purposes, remember that the platen position, the text entry point, remains fixed to the typewriter while the text rolls, or scrolls up with the paper.
That is what Scrivener emulates when one selects View=>Text Editing=>Typewriter Scrolling mode.
Scrivener also allows the user to choose wherever she wants that Typewriter Scrolling line to be positioned on the screen by selecting it from a choice of five fixed positions (Preferences=>Editing=>Typewriter Scrolling Line:) The choices are the Upper or Lower Quarter of Editor, Upper or Lower Third of Editor and, my preference, the Middle of Editor on the screen. Once selected, text will always be entered at that position–the virtual platen–referenced to the screen–which is ultimately referenced to the physical edges of the monitor that you are looking at right now.
The editor screen does not change while you are typing, the text changes on the virtual page, and it scrolls up and down.
Now, back to my suggestion:
What I am requesting is a simple fixed tick mark on the editor screen, itself, that indicates the fixed line position of where text will be entered next… the ‘Typewriter Scrolling’ line a.k.a. the virtual platen or roller.
Please refer to the photo below.
When writing I have a tendency to look back, to scroll up back into my work for various bits of information (how did I phrase that?). Even tho I can scroll back into my text, the text entry point does not change. The next character entered will be on the line where the cursor is currently positioned, even if it is off the visible area. Or, I can change the next character entry point, (the cursor position, from now on) by clicking anywhere on the screen. All of this works as expected on every mode of the editor.
The issue arises in the Typewriter Scrolling mode when a key is pressed to enter new text and the cursor position is not on the Typewriter Scrolling line. If the cursor is not on the Typewriter Scrolling line, the editor will reposition the text such that the new cursor position is then on the Typewriter Scrolling line as chosen by the user.
The immediate result is that all the text under my gaze changes and my eyes lose all visual reference to writing point. Visualize: I am focused on the text where I want to enter. I want to make a change, add a word, or a phrase or just punctuation. At the moment I touch any key, point that I had been focused upon suddenly disappears and effectively random text appears under my eyes.
Visualize this: I am looking back into my work and find a place that needs another word or two. Thinking about what I want to write and exactly how to phrase it, I am ready to edit. I type the first letter of my change. The text on the screen suddenly changes causing a moment of disorientation. My eyes are forced to seek for that cursor position again. Lost for the moment is the carefully arranged verbiage I have in mind until I can find the cursor again to resume typing my text. Sometime I have to rethink the proposed change to remember it right.
This is an annoying nit.
Placing tick marks–much like hyphens–on the editor’s frame at each end of the Typewriter Scrolling line would make finding that text entry point easier.
Hopefully, board members will find this rewrite a better explanation of my proposal. I only hope I didn’t over explain things too much.