Sunday, January 28, 2007

Scrivener first week, 1.01 and Xbox 360 distractions

Well, the first week of Scrivener going on a 1.0 release has gone way better than I could have hoped. Thank you to everybody who has purchased a copy or just taken the time to give me feedback so far. Notable events of the past couple of weeks include:

- Michael Marshall Smith wrote his new novella in Scrivener!
- The BBC show Spooks just started shooting in London, some of the treatments of which were drafted in Scrivener.
- I bought myself an Xbox 360 to celebrate the launch; my eyes are now sore and dry after too much Gears of War.
- I met up with a writer who works for the Financial Times at an exclusive media club in Covent Garden - and managed to spill water all over his PowerBook. (The Universe proving I do not belong in exclusive clubs in Covent Garden.) Paul - if you are reading: sorry. How's the PowerBook?
- A senior Apple guru got in touch to ask about Scrivener.
- MacFormat asked if they could put Scrivener and Scrivener Gold on one of their DVDs (so look out for it in a future edition).
- I completely failed to start The Novel.

All in all, a good start.

Anyway... I have also been dealing with a gazillion e-mails. Many of these are students asking for discounts (there isn't one! Scrivener is cheap already! Though I sometimes give them a coupon anyway if they're really polite, although that will probably stop now that eSellerate are taking a bigger cut). Many more are support e-mails. Lots are really, really nice "thank you" and "great app" e-mails: an especially big thank you to all the authors of those, as they always make my day. I've also had a considerable number of "Will there be a Windows version?" mails, which makes me feel good to have produced something Windows users want. To those Windows users: Sorry, but no. Not because I have anything against PCs, but just because it is so difficult to port software between platforms and I haven't got a whole team. PageFour and Rough Draft are great PC programs, though. Oh, and I did - just this very moment - have one e-mail telling me that Scrivener was useless because it didn't act like a word processor and show page layout and invisible character, which just goes to show that you can't please all of the people all of the time.

And in amongst all of that, I have been hard at work on 1.01, honestly. Here's a screenshot:

Thanks again for all the support for Scrivener. And an especially big thank you to Merlin Mann for bigging it up on 43Folders.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Scrivener makes 1.0

Well, Scrivener finally got to a 1.0 release yesterday, and I would like to sincerely thank* all of those users who have beta-tested both Scrivener Gold and then the Scrivener 1 betas over the past couple of years. You have all helped make Scrivener a much better application, truly. When I released beta 1 several months ago, I thought it was pretty much ready for release. I was mistaken, to put it mildly. The feedback was positive, but there were a lot of rough edges that made navigation a little unintuitive (remember how you could keep ending up with a blank corkboard because the modes weren't automatic?). My own ideas and vision got Scrivener part of the way; feedback from real world users got it the rest of the way. It is much better for it. So: thank you.

A big thank you too to all of those who have already bought Scrivener - I am genuinely surprised at the number of copies purchased in less than 24 hours - and to those who have taken the time to write such rave reviews on VersionTracker and MacUpdate.

For those who haven't checked out Scrivener 1.0, it is available on the product web page at:

There are a few minor tweaks and features I hope to add over the coming months, and of course, there will no doubt be another small development push when Leopard is released to ensure everything is compatible and to take advantage of new OS X features, but really, it is now time, at last, to turn back to the writing (i.e. actually using Scrivener myself). Now that is daunting. Developing Scrivener has really been the most amazing form of procrastination. So, hopefully in future this blog will cover both the ongoing development of Scrivener and my struggling attempts at writing The Novel...

Thanks again!

*Pedants: yes, certain grammar freaks would say this is a "split infinitive", a misunderstanding that comes from Latin infinitives. This is the perfect example of why split infinitives are actually meaningless in English: "sincerely like to thank" would suggest it's my liking that is sincere; "to thank sincerely" is probably more correct but sounds hideous. Mind the Gaffe is a great book that really lays waste to nonsense such as split infinitives. Hmm, "pedant's corner" seems to be turning into a regular part of this blog...

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Gearing up for 1.0

Well, as of today I am putting the finishing touches on Scrivener's Help file (though it needs proof reading; it is very fortunate that the users of Scrivener are writers - a naturally pedantic* bunch, meself included).

What does this mean? Well, hopefully it means that Scrivener should go on sale sometime during the week beginning 22nd January, but most certainly before the end this month. There are a couple of very minor annoyances I need to iron out of Scrivener first (a day's work at most - er, hopefully, at least), and I ought to release a beta 6 in the next day or two so that beta-testers can start proof-reading the Help file, I suppose... But that is really it.

Not that Scrivener is entirely perfect (yet), but it is pretty damn near, in my own rather biased opinion. That is, perfect for me at least - but then that is the whole benefit of writing your own software. At this stage it does everything - in fact more - than it was originally intended to do, so by that definition, 1.0 is complete. There are a few things that would be nice, but which I have managed to say "no" to for version 1.0: for instance, the ability to view scrivenings in an arbitrary (non-binder) order; project notes and references combined into the inspector (the current Project Notepad is really only a pitstop); the ability to search snapshots; a binder HUD in full screen... and so on and so forth. All nice, but not necessary for 1.0. And I have got better at saying "no... for now" to suggestions recently, which is very important if we are to make it to 1.0 at all (it has been a year-and-a-quarter since Scrivener Gold - back then just "Scrivener", before it was down-graded - was first released in beta).

It's been an interesting and gratifying journey to 1.0. I have had very little negative feedback, and a lot of positive and constructive feedback. Even better, I have had some published authors start using Scrivener, so I was able to bend their ears about writing and get some very good writing advice (a very big thank you to Neil Cross and Michael Bywater, both of whom very generously replied to my questions with long e-mails containing excellent advice, and to Michael Marshall Smith who, along with Neil Cross, has given me a great testimonial for Scrivener's web page).

So now it is on with using Scrivener myself. We've booted The Girl (now nearly one) into her brother's bedroom, and I bought a £20 compact writing desk from Argos which now sits exactly where her cot did in our room. So now, really, all I need is talent. D'oh!

*cf. Post on "pedanticism"/"pedantry" below. Wasn't it Churchill who said, "Pedantry is something up with which I shall not put"? (If not, no doubt somebody will take delight in correcting me.)