Sunday, June 18, 2006

Of Corkboards and Typewriters

Okay, I've been playing around with this simplicity idea, and I'm going to experiment with it to see if it is a viable future for Scrivener. My idea is to have the main window look a little like the one in OmniOutliner. It displays either an outliner or a corkboard, with a drawer that can show the binder (yes, I know a lot of people don't like drawers and they could put off some potential users, but I do like the way they work in OmniOutliner). You could see a document in a third pane in that window, but only as a preview and with no meta-data. Then you would open any documents you wanted to work with in a separate window. These editor windows would have a drawer for displaying meta-data, and would also allow a split view for viewing supporting documents. Here are a couple of mock-ups of how it might look:


Blogger Scott Sigler said...

Hey I just learned about Scrivner. I'll be checking it out this week, to see if it helps me develop and write my new novel.

-Scott Sigler-

5:25 pm  
Blogger zo said...

Do you remember Three by Five, (however they spelled it) the old Classic app that was just 3 x 5 cards on a corkboard background ... ugly as sin, but it worked!

I think I might still have a copy somewhere, email if you're interested.

4:02 am  
Anonymous SteveJ said...

Do these meditations, and those in earlier posts, mean that you're imagining fundamental changes to the UI? I devoutly hope not--will have to go looking for another writing app if you do.

I don't say this accusingly at all; I contributed almost nothing to the beta forum, and in any case my needs to not trump those of others. I'm just registering my hope that elements like the present "binder" and "compose" as well as the "storyboard" view will remain. (And I say this even though I was one of those hoping for more outlining capacity back in the day!)

Just for myself, the abilities to see both the "storyboard" cards and the notes space alongside the writing window, and to view and edit and rearrange the series of story board cards, and to compose in full-screen mode are equally crucial, and together make the knock-out combination that puts Scrivener ahead of other writing tools. So I'll be sorry if the first of those is lost.

10:19 pm  
Blogger kayembi said...

Stevej - I fully intend to keep all of the things you mention. I am just trying to find a more intuitive way of it all fitting together at the moment, as I feel the current "modes" implementation is rather clumsy. I also want better outlining. Thanks for the input!

10:25 pm  
Blogger Chumbake said...

I agree with stevej about those features putting Scrivener ahead of other writing applications.
Thanks for not getting rid of them. I was getting nervous when I read you were going to simplify the program.

I'm all for better outlining as well. Keep up the good work.

6:23 pm  
Anonymous musti said...

Fantastic idea! Most folks including me are really looking forward to this: dumping our index papers onto our Mac top it, it is an outliner! Really really cool. Do you happen to have a CorkBoard beta we can play with? Please?

9:26 pm  
Blogger Scott Sigler said...

Can Scrivner hold links to active web pages, not clippings or local archives? I can't figure out how to do that. If anyone knows how, email me

I want to be able to reference web pages in a split-screen setting, as I use the internet for a large amount of research.

7:30 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a little late to the party--I just found out about Scrivener when reading some comments while downloading the latest version of WriteRoom. I edit and write for a living, and I've probably tried just about every text editor available for OS X. Ultimately, I end up back in TextEdit or (increasingly) Pages.

Today, though, I installed Scrivener Gold, ran through the tutorial doc in about 20 minutes, and then sat down and wrote out 2,700 words for a speech for our annual Summer School next week. The experience was incredible. I love the full screen view; I love the split screen view; I love being able to bring in PDFs from which I can capture quotations. I love Compose mode and Draft mode and the way the latter builds off the former.

Not being much of an index-card user, I've found the Corkboard unnecessary and the Binder to offer nothing much beyond Compose mode, but I understand the desire people have for those tools.

To be honest, what I don't understand is why you are so dissatisfied with the look and feel of Scrivener Gold. Give it a unified toolbar, sure; but otherwise, Compose mode and Draft mode look pretty close to perfect to me. And Full Screen is a dream.

You've mentioned the desire to keep it simple, but at the same time, you want to beef up the outliner. Again, I think you've already hit the ideal combination of simplicity and power in the outliner as it stands. Anything more, and the user will be tempted to spend too much time creating outlines, to the detriment of his writing. (Then again, I only use elaborate outlines for unpleasant assignments, because I've found that nothing stifles creativity as much as an overplanned outline.)

So, I guess you should count this as another comment supporting stevej's remarks. And I'd urge you to take another look at the interface you've already got working. It may not be as bad as you think...

11:17 pm  
Anonymous Scott P. Richert said...

I'm not sure why the comment above posted as anonymous; it had my name properly posted when I previewed it. In any case, it belongs to me.

11:33 pm  
Anonymous AmberV said...

I am going to have to toss in my vote for the refinement of Scrivener Gold's interface, as outlined nicely in some earlier blog posts, rather than the idea of coming up with entirely new way of presenting data. Some of the ideas, such as moving all meta-data to a drawer or something and not presenting a tabular arrangment would be, in my opinion, a UI disaster. There should always be a way to view meta-data in columnar format -- user customisable to be sure, but the capability should be there. If one wants they can pare it down to just the body text, but others might want to see every scrap of detail at the top level view.

I am all for increasing the outlining capability, and a slick interface, but I do believe quite strongly that what makes Scrivener Gold work so well is the way in which it integrates your book. I think you really hit onto something with that design, and judging from the feedback I've seen -- nearly universally -- writers just get it, and they really dig it. That is saying quite a bit. There were a lot of things that could be done to SG to make it implementation of its UI design much more slick, without dispensing with the idea itself. From what I saw of the earlier mock-ups you created for the S1, it looked as if you were heading in a very positive direction toward that. Anyway, cheers! :)

11:25 pm  
Blogger kayembi said...

Don't worry - this post was really just a "wondering aloud" comment. These ideas might make it into a freeware "CorkboardX" app at some point, but Scrivener is not going down this road. Scrivener's interface will remain familiar to users of Scrivener Gold, except that it no longer has "modes" - everything is now more intuitively integrated. It's going well, too: if I do decide to ditch multi-media support (see the forums at for more info), then Scrivener 1.0 _should_ be ready for the end of the summer...

10:15 am  
Anonymous Scott P. Richert said...

I hope that you don't ditch multimedia support, or at least don't ditch support for PDFs. (Since making a PDF out of anything on OS X is trivial, I'd have no real objection to ditching anything else.)

Being able to bring in PDFs to refer to in split view is one of the most wonderful aspects of Scrivener Gold, in my opinion. I just wrote three quarters of my latest magazine column in the car, on the road from Illinois to Michigan (don't worry; my wife was driving), and I was able to do so because I grabbed a number of news reports and other references docs as PDFs and tossed them into my column project before we left.

Yes, you can view PDFs in Preview, but you can't have a split view with Preview on the top and your current doc in Scrivener on the bottom.

9:04 pm  
Blogger kayembi said...

Hmmm... Food for thought. I will look at leaving multi-media support in there, perhaps with a few less bells and whistles, though. It is a very good point that there is nothing else currently out there that lets you have a split view of two different types of document, and this, I think, is important. So don't worry just yet...

10:31 pm  

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