UI: Menu Nitpicks: Save, Find, Settings

[In case I didn’t say it elsewhere, this recent stream of nitpicking represents my enthusiasm about and support for a beautiful and well polished piece of software. That I have found such relatively minor issues to comment on is its own testimonial to the developer.]

Where: Scrivener 1.0RC5

Problem: The names and locations of some menu items are unexpected. This isn’t a bug, and is definitely open for debate.

  1. Find

The Find menu in Scrivener should probably be a submenu of Edit, where users would expect it, rather than a top-level menu, as it is now. For example, Find is a submenu of Edit in: TextEdit, Safari, DevonThink, and Word, all programs that users might switch between while using Scrivener. Believe it or not, I looked in Scrivener for the Find menu for a little while.

  1. Force Save

Why not just Save? I mean, I get the point that you don’t have to use it - but no other program calls it this, so it just looks scary to non-technical types.

  1. Label and MultiMarkdown settings

I’d humbly suggest (in case this has already been a long conversation I missed) that one or both of these belong in the floating Preferences pane, not in modal popups.


This would have the added advantage of getting misc preference pane tabs out of your file menu.

I can comment on that last one, because I know why it got to be the way it is. Originally there was a thing called “Project Settings,” which had your labels and status, and some export formatting options. When the export options were moved to the export function, the term “project settings” became a bit pompous for what was left. The dialogue became Labels & Status, and moved to the File menu next to the MMD settings. As for why the MMD settings were never a part of Project Settings, I do not remember the rationale for that.

Anyway, the reason they are not in the main preferences now is because they only pertain to the current file, or project. Everything in preferences are global settings. While their current placement may be adding a little clutter to the File menu, I think it would be more confusing to have them in the same dialogue that effects the entire application. This is, additionally, also why they are in modal pop-ups: To reinforce that they are associated with the project and not the application. When more than one project were open – what would these non-modal variants you suggest behave like?

Re: “Find” menu, I actually kind of agree with that one, but I am not sure. I’ve been using it for so long now that I have all of those keys memorised, and I never look for the menu. The separated menu for searching has been a part of Scrivener since the very beginning, I think – so I have grown utterly used to its position at the top of the hierarchy.

Thanks for clarifying with regards to 3 (MultiMarkdown / Labels). I hadn’t really thought about it, but of course they are document properties.

Given that, isn’t calling them “Label Setup” and “MultiMarkdown Settings” even stranger? An alternate suggestion: do what Word does (never thought I’d say that!) and put them both in a menu item named File:Properties that pops up two-tabbed dialog.

I guess “Properties” is suggesting a return to something like Project Settings. This doesn’t strike me as pompous, however, no matter how little or much goes in there. It is what it is - metadata associated with the Scrivener file. To me, “MultiMarkdown Settings” sounds like the general configuration of an external helper - “Java settings” - and it sounds like this even though I already knew what (Multi)Markdown does, and the entry is in the file menu. Still, I’m heading into opinion territory.

There was in fact a very long discussion about menu placement recently, and there were major changes in the setup of menus not long ago. Your comments only go to prove that you can’t please all of the people all of the time. I spent a long time thinking about the current set up, and whilst I am happy to explain them, they will not be changing any time soon because I really believe they are best placed as they are now (and believe me, I looked at a lot of other applications to find the most intuitive fit).

To comment on the last first - please see the Apple HIG. That specifies that project settings (as opposed to global preferences) belong in the File menu. As for why the two are separate: I have very deliberately tried to keep all MultiMarkdown settings (which only a handful of users will ever use) separate from the settings that all users are likely to use - and nearly all users will want to set up labels and status. More over, both have a very different purpose - MMD settings really affect export (you could make a good case for it to be moved to the Export Draft dialogue, but I wouldn’t listen to it until after 1.0 :slight_smile: ), whereas labels and status affect your work within Scrivener.

As for your other menu nitpicks:

Scrivener is not your average TextEdit-style app. Its projects can contain a lot of info and you are likely to want to search it in different ways - via annotations, highlights, project vs document search, project replace, and so on. If you refer to other project-based programs, you will see that as soon as the Find menu expands, it moves to its own menu. I have taken my cue from Apple here. Scrivener is a kind of “Xcode for writers”; take a look at Xcode’s menu - it has its own “Find” menu. So, this won’t change.

You kind of answered your own question there. It’s called “Force Save” because, uh, that is exactly what it does. Scrivener auto-saves - but you can force a manual save with that command. No other program calls it this because other programs that have auto-saves tend not to have any force save feature. I really don’t believe this is scary to non-technical types. It just tells you what it is. On this one, though, I am open to the vote. If other users really feel this should just be “Save”, it’s not exactly hard to change.


Since we’re being democratic: I think it should stay as is. If you change it to Save, it’s guaranteed people will complain that there’s no way to turn off autosave and then you’ll just have to explain to them how to use snapshots. Yes it’s an itsy bitsy paradigm shift from other programs, but Force Save is more descriptive- and sounds ever so manly to boot. :slight_smile:

I don’t think “Force Save” is all that scary, but would “Save Now” be clearer? That would make a distinction from the Auto-Save feature, which saves at established intervals.