Typewriter Line Visual Cue

I like typewriter mode, I suggest a visual cue indicating the position of the typewriter line in every editor.

  1. Background: When writing/editing a line of text, the current line highlight works as expected on the typewriter line. When scrolling the page, the highlighted line rolls up with the text, as it should, because the entry point is still on that line. If a key is pressed the text will enter on the current line whether the line is visible. This key press causes the highlighted line to snap back to the typewriter input position. All works well.

  2. Problem: However, as the page and current line highlight scrolls up, lost is any visual reference for the fixed location of the typewriter line position in the editor. No matter how the current line is highlighted, the problem persists. As is, it causes a moment of disorientation finding that line again. This is an annoying nit.

  3. Suggestion: Place tick marks–much like hyphens–in all the editors’ frames one on each end of the typewriter line.

  4. Expected Result: Just subconsciously knowing how far and in which direction the highlighted current line is from the typewriter line should reduce that moment of visual searching for the line after it snaps back.

But if the tick mark follows the typewriter line, they disappear when the line disappears, so what’s then the point of them?

Thank you for the question. The tick marks would say fixed on the window frame wherever the user selects for the typewriter line [Top | Middle | Bottom]. Our text scrolls inside the frame. The current line highlight scrolls with the text.

When any key is entered, the current line snaps back to the typewriter line. My eyes try to find that line quickly but overshoot the typewriter line, then they must seek the correct line.

Often, I scroll up or down in my text looking for a reference or a turn of phrase. After satisfying my pursuit, I know that I can get the cursor and the current line all back to normal input state just by tapping space bar. After much messing around with, it has become obvious that my eyes lack a reference to snap to along with the text.

I prefer the dark theme. I like my current line highlight to be light… meaning light weight in that it barely appears out of the background. Any heavier a text background defeats the purpose of dark theme and irritates me as I concentrate.

But the ”typewriter line” gets centered, so it’s in the middle of the window with a blinking cursor. Having some extra tick marks in the window frame would force your eyes to flicker between the frame and the cursor.
I still don’t understand how this would help. It seems to me that it would clutter the window and cause more distraction.

No Lunk, my eyes would not flicker. My eyes would appreciate a hard ‘go to’ mark to keep my eyes from flickering. That, indeed, is the point. I am unsure whether you understand my suggestion. Do you regularly use the typewriter mode, yourself?

Perhaps we do not use Scrivener in the same ways so you cannot see what I suggest. Perhaps, writers with your concerns would be able turn off this visual cue option and operate Scrivener just as everything is now. No clutter. Perhaps this tic mark could only be visible in the typewriter mode, which seems reasonable, then you would never see the tic mark.

I seem to fail expressing this visual cue option to you. Perhaps others would chime in so I understand what your objection is, beyond objecting. I do not see what you do not see so I cannot address your objection better.

For me, this visual cue option is a tiny little addition that might help many. Regardless, I know it would help me eliminate one distraction.

I use typewriter mode in Composition mode, but not if I’m writing in the normal Editor window. If I often need to to scroll up and down or look elsewhere than where I am writing, I split the Editor and lock them.

Hey Lunk… Here is a photo that (hopefully) will help you visualize the proposed concept. That blue triangular tick mark shows the position of the typewriter line–imagine that huge glob of painter’s tape being only a hyphen-sized tick mark.*

The current line highlight is scrolled up above the typewriter line in the photo below. However, the position of that line is not the issue. If you scroll away to any other portion of your text, you can click anywhere on the screen and that cursor position becomes the current line (as the current line highlight will indicate). All is normal so far about how it works in not-typewriter mode. In not-typewriter mode, you would just start typing wherever that cursor might be.

The rub lies in typewriter mode. The moment you start to type on the current cursor position, that current line snaps back to the chosen typewriter line–as you expected in typewriter mode, after all. In effect, the text under the focus point of my eyes suddenly disappears and new text appears. My eyes lose their orientation and go seeking the typewriter line where I expect to find on the new text I just entered. In engineering speak, the eyes are slewing to their new location… like a dish antenna moving to a new position.

Unlike the photo, in dark mode my current line highlight is very slight, my eyes overshoot the line, realize their position error and slew back. It gets to be annoying. I tried making my current line highlight lighter (on a dark background), more noticeable–and that helps–but it reduces text contrast and defeats the goal of shutting off all unnecessary light entering my eyes, excepting the text of the story I am working on.

This idea is no great whoop and it will not cause writers to, say, abandon Ulysses and take up Scrivener. I just wanted a simple little fix to a niggling bit of irritation when I write. All this explanation is more than the idea deserves. And, the concept is still unproven until it can be tested. If I had access to the source code this would have been done so much simpler–a line or two of code is all it would take. Then I could play with it some.

Anywho… Lunk, I hope this photo is enuf to help you see the idea behind my suggestion. This is my last shot.


*I tried to get a screen grab of the composition editor window with the tick mark, but couldn’t make that happen. This is a photo of the monitor showing the composition editor window with a piece of painter’s tape stuck to the glass of the monitor… so sorry for the hack. I had to change out of dark mode because I didn’t have white tape and then had to change colors of everything to make the issue more visible. Pardon the ruff prose… The text is an unedited first draft that was just trying to order all the pieces of the story into the right places.

Ah, now I finally get it, I think.
I thought your tick marks were some kind of dynamic markers, moving along the frame to show the relative position of the highlighted line in relation to the text you had scrolled to look at, but they are meant to be static, right? Showing where the highlighted line should normally end up when you write? Like on a real typewriter where you are always writing at the exact same place and the paper moves? Your tick marks would then show the position of the typewriter roller, sort of. Is that what you mean?

If so, I can actually see the point. :slight_smile:
It’s not the typewriter line you want a visual cue for but the typewriter “roller” position? :smiley:

I think a very thin frame would be better, stretching across the entire window, with a height of e.g. three lines (somewhat like the thickness of the roller on a typewriter) and where the typewriter line would always end up in the middle. That way you would always see the “roller” no matter where your eyes are focusing. My comment about the tick marks causing the eyes to flicker is because I often write on a 27" screen where the text window itself is wider than the whole screen on my 13" MBP but the text is only using a smaller portion of that width. With marks in the window frame my eyes would have to move from the text (in the middle) to the frame to find the marks. With a “roller frame” or something similar the roller would always be where my eyes are.

Yes Lunk! You found the words that brought us together!

–It’s not the typewriter line you want a visual cue for but the typewriter “roller” position?

Okay! Roller position it is. YAY! Whew. Yes, all I want is a tick mark at the roller position.

Your “roller position” is my “typewriter line.” Same-o, Same-o. I tried to use the terminology I found in the Scrivener literature. Perhaps I should have called it the “Typewriter Scroll Line” since that is the name of the option one turns on in the Preferences Panel and then sets to “Middle of editor” or other screen placement. Extending physical typewriter analogies, the roller is called a platen, so, “tick marks at the platen position” would also describe it.

Your 1px “roller frame” is an interesting idea and I will have to think on it a bit. When typing, the “Current Line” highlight would be in the center of your “roller frame.” Conceivably, it might be a great idea. Perhaps implementing both ideas might give an advantage and the user can select either, or both, and to set the Appearance parameters for which option she chooses.

It wouldn’t take much to fix my eye skewing issue. A hyphen at that permanent roller location. I also use a 27" monitor and that, to me, is the cause of the problem. Too much screen real estate on full screen distraction-free composition mode (that I adore). As I envision it, the tick mark would be a peripheral vision thing… just a subliminal reminder of where to put my eyes to catch the “roller position” when the screen suddenly changes and they lose orientation, I wouldn’t actually focus on the tick mark so my eyes won’t “flicker.”

Conceivably (and you made me think of this, Lunk), tick marks on both ends of the ‘platen’ or roller position would be even better. But that may be asking too much. :wink:

The text doesn’t have to be wider in composition mode than it is in the editor or on a smaller display. Simply shrink the width…

It might be wise to submit a new post to the WIsh list, with a title that gives a better description. I could do that.

Lunk, I have been quite clear and have patiently explained this to you. If you do not understand what I have been asking for, then I despair that I’ll will ever be able to explain it to you. You are intelligent, educated and a long time user of Scrivener and here on the board. Resubmitting my will serve no purpose, I have no more ways to explain it to anyone. And you will probably never understand my suggestion no matter how I put it.

If I can’t explain it to you, if you do not get what I am asking for after all this verbiage, time, care and patiently choosing my words, well then, I am probably on the wrong board. I do not belong here.

Hi, Arta and Lunk.

I’ve been following this thread for a while, and I must confess that even with all your questions, Lunk, and your explanations, Arta, I didn’t understand what Arta was asking for until now. It didn’t dawn on me that the “visual cue” – even when marked by a piece of gaffer’s tape! – was meant to be stationary with respect to the editor pane. It’s just an indicator of where you have your typewriter mode set: top third, mid-screen, or bottom third. Believe me, I was so convinced that this indicator had to move, that the experience of understanding the concept was like looking at one of those 3-d posters that you have to unfocus your eyes to experience properly – suddenly it snapped into place.

That said, I can now see the value of this indicator for those who use typewriter mode often. Good luck, Arta, and don’t leave us! Even if some of us are a bit thick… :wink:

Yeah, the progression of my understanding of this request pretty much followed Silver Dragon’s. The painter’s tape was brilliant, providing that sort of example never would’ve occurred to me. 8)

I use typewriter mode more often than not, and I would definitely utilize this if it were an optional feature.

Dear lunk, Silverdragon and JimRac,

I have rewritten this suggestion in a new post, as suggested by lunk, called ‘Typewriter Line Visual Clue - Redux.’ I so hope that this clears up things for everyone.