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Feedback on the Start Page and the Research area


#1

I’m considering a couple of changes for the next version of Atomic and wanted to get a little feedback before making them.

The first is regarding the Start Page. Does it add value, either as a new user or a long term user? Do you ever use the Start Page? Did you use it in the early days but now no longer do?

I’m thinking of removing it completely, as I don’t use it myself, but it may be that it would benefit instead from some changes.

The second area is regarding the bookmarks, images and notes in the Research section. These options are only available in the Research tree — not in the Document or in the Fragment trees. Would it be of use to open up the ability to add bookmarks and images to the two other trees?

This would allow the writer to drive the structure of the project rather than the software. For some writers, keeping all research, links, images, etc. In the Research section makes sense, for others, maybe not.

There are times when I’d like to add a bookmark to a scene on the Document tree — not as research, but as a reminder of something.

Any thoughts?


#2

I’m all for ditching the start page (or at least getting rid of its stickiness) as it’s always been an annoyance that I can’t work within a clean environment by default; I raised this when you last canvassed users. I get rid of it every time I open the program but it’s a persistent little beggar. I can see a use for it okay, but would prefer it was relegated to the help menu.

Bookmarks etc in all the trees - great idea for functionality, I like that. Also, bookmarking scenes!

Mike


#3

I think not ditch the start page, but hide it by default. I can see some use to users, but don’t think it should be opened automatically. I know that Visual Studio has a similar artifact, and at sometimes, I do use it for recent projects. But I do wish it wasn’t opened automatically whenever I opened the IDE.

The ability to add more bookmarks is definitely a great thing. I actually think if you add the bookmarks in sections to the start page, that might give that page more utility, like the recently accessed section.


#4

1. Start Page

I had to open AS to remind myself what’s on the start page, because I never use it.

I see some utility in the contents of Recent, but not on the Start Page. I’d rather see Recent being fairly comprehensive and living on the Project toolbar, perhaps in the group containing Document | Fragments | Research | Find | Recent.

The Get Started links are perhaps useful for the first few sessions, after which I think most users will know how to find them. All three links would be “expected” on the Help About panel, or the Help submenu. Hey! They are already there! Except the Blog link, which could be added (and it contains some good reading material).

The Actions section, again, seems redundant, but could be part of the help toolbar, perhaps a dropdown of a dozen “common tasks” that would help newbies, and might also highlight those less-often used facilities or operations one tends to forget.

For me, having the Start Page force itself into the tab bar is definitely more annoying than helpful.

Bookmarks, Images, Notes

Your second question is especially interesting in light of the overall GUI strategy. One problem I’ve always had with Scrivener is their use of the word “Document” to refer to what amounts to any chunk of text (any node on the tree). That prevents us from using that word in its ultra-common meaning — the Thing I have just opened and am working on.

In AS we learn to call this Thing a Project (which at least doesn’t contradict decades of computer usage), and the topmost nodes Chapters, all of which I find much easier to do. But the underlying GUI strategy is that the app is defining what all these elemental things are, while at the same time encouraging users to freely re-define their purpose in a given document (Project). To me, that’s a contradiction, and I think it adds confusion for users until they get used to the idea that the nomenclature isn’t meant to be taken seriously. But maybe it’s unavoidable, because the purpose of each node element may change significantly from Project to Project.

I should have been able to say that more simply . . . .

The tradeoff seems to be flexibility vs guidance. And I readily acknowledge that the field of writing hasn’t spawned much terminology for referring to the parts of a manuscript. I was surprised, back in the 90’s, when the excellent editor Lotus Manuscript offered a paradigm where a “paragraph” was called a “block,” and it became apparent that every document could be designed as a hierarchy of blocks – some contained sentences, and others contained headings. Using this model, one could build any common document structure without any other kind of element: a hierarchy of heading + content blocks (with optional Graphics blocks wherever a text block might go). Modern graphical text apps now use essentially the same kind of thing – text blocks (and often graphic blocks). in InDesign, for example, calling a paragraph Style a “heading” is just the user’s preference. Structurally a heading is no different from a paragraph.

So this “orthogonal” thinking leads to the observation that pre-defining structural elements may not be all that helpful. (Of course, suggesting initial uses for elements may be very helpful.)

So I suspect that removing restrictions on the three trees is usually going to be a better approach. Let me decide how I’m going to use each tree. Offer a suggested function for each tree (Document, Fragments, Research), but allow me to use them any way I like. Allowing me to add a Scene to the Fragments and Research trees, but not allowing me to add an Image or a Link to the Document tree, seems arbitrary. (Although I imagine some additional export settings will be required.) Besides, users always come up with clever ways of using an app that the developer never thought of. (At least that was my experience as a developer.)

And speaking of export – why not let us treat any tree as the source of an export? If they all contain all the same types of elements, then we could end up with the bulk of some project in Fragments or Research – so why not export that, “as if” it were the Document? One might actually need to export the Research…

However, this putative principle of orthogonality can get confusing. Why not let me insert anything into anything? Put a folder into a Scene? Put references and links into a Note? In fact, now I am confused.

So there do need to be limits. If I had more time, I’d try to offer an overall set of elements, defining what could be useful within other elements, but fortunately that’s what you’re doing, o esteemed developer!

Conclusion

So yes, I would definitely like to be able to add links and figures to a Scene or anywhere in the Document tree. And, as Mike reiterated, I would sorely like to have bookmarks that point to Scenes (or, in fact, to any element in AS). For now, just these two expansions would be extremely useful, and probably wouldn’t add enough complexity to confound the newbies.

And thanks for asking. That’s one thing that really sets AS apart.

Allen


#5

I find the start page mildly annoying, and delete it immediately every time I see it. I’ve never used it, but I can see someone wanting it, so whoever said to keep it as a check box I agree with.

I have no strong opinion on adding bookmarks and images to the two other trees. I probably wouldn’t use it, but then again it’s absolutely no pain having it there in case I ever want to.

Speaking of customization and having the writer have more control, I really wish you’d add more customization, specifically to how it LOOKS. Currently there are only two themes. I wish you’d give the user an option in at least the scene default page to choose their preferred background page color and font color. Even if there are eventually many themes, I can still see that being annoying if I couldn’t tweak them. For instance, I like the dark theme much better than the default theme, but I’d still like to tweak it and get it exactly how I want it. Let the people who don’t care about how it looks to use the default and they will be perfectly happy, but you can also let the people who care go in and change it if they prefer writing with a different look.

Glenn


#6

Hi Darren,

I like ATC’s suggestion to put Recent in the Project toolbar as he describes it - if you decide to get rid of the start page
I second the point of view of chuckdee - keep a start page and add a bookmarks section to it along with the recent list.

But I don’t mind the start page opening as the first tab. I just click it off at some point almost subconsciously as I work if I happen to notice it there and don’t need it. It only annoyed me for about a week, then I found it handy at times, not because I am a newbie, but because I found its features and links handy.

The tab that actually opens automatically for me is the last scene I was working on when I just exit my session by closing Atomic Scribbler. Perfect.
Is this not what other folks are experiencing? The start page tab is just to the left of that as the first tab but is not opened. So I just start typing in my scene. It’s just one of several tabs still open from my last session. Not a bother to me personally.

As for the bookmarks: Are you thinking of putting the bookmarks in the left panel of the word processor for quick action? That would be absolutely helpful and better than bookmarks on the start page with it visible within a scene folder or with its own folder with all the internal links in one place in the document panel. Or both.

But set me straight on what we are talking about here. Are we talking about internal document bookmarks, not web links as in the research tree where it asks for an HTTP URL?

I would like to be able to select a word, phrase or paragraph, and just be able to “add” it to the left scene panel as an internal link to that particular spot in the scene so I can jump back to that place when I want to return to it.
It often happens that I leave off to work in another place and don’t want to forget to go back to where I left off in order to finish it up, or lose my place after returning maybe days later - without moving or copying the paragraph I was working on from the scene into the fragments panel. Is this already possible and I just don’t know it, and we are discussing a different feature altogether?

An emphatic yes to a feature of internal bookmarks easily made with “select and add as bookmark to the scene panel” feature. As many bookmarks in each scene as one likes. Delete individually when they get unruly.

Yes, to keep the start page available whether it opens as a tab initially or not.

Doug


#7

Thanks for all the feedback so far today. It’s a big help.

The general opinion on the Start Page is that it can be annoying but shouldn’t be removed completely. The best solution is probably to remember its last state (open or not), and apply that state when a project is opened. I’ll leave the Start button on the toolbar as the mechanism of re-opening the page should it be closed.

There seems to be a similar consensus on the bookmarks / images when it comes to the other trees, with a few of you mentioning expanding the bookmarks. My initial intent was to separate out the research material entirely into its own section, but even with my own work I’ve found this to be limiting.

I don’t feel that allowing bookmarks and images in the other trees will have any negative effects, so I’ll add this to the list. Expanding the bookmarks to handle bookmarking internal scenes or notes is something I’d planned to do from one, when the bookmarks were first launched, so I’ll put this down as a very desirable addition and see if I can get to it in the same release.

Going a step further and bookmarking to internal locations within a document is a good bit more complex and will require more investigation so probably won’t make the cut for the next release.

Further customisation options are also on the list, but not the immediate list.


#8

Hi Darren,

I’m sorry I couldn’t respond earlier. A lot of details are mentioned already, so I can make it relatively short here. :slight_smile:

Start Page: Most of us work apparently the same way. I never used the Start Page and wouldn’t miss it at all.

Bookmarks: I second Allen where it comes to flexibility. It would be nice to have the possibility to add bookmarks to other trees as well.

A note on the side: Like Allen mentioned already, the way you interact with users in your forum sets you and AS apart from other products. Thanks for your work and engagement. :slight_smile:

Hans


#9

The start page is useful in that it enables me to look up any of my existing projects, and as a convenient way to start a new one, but instead an always open entity in my working environment, it would be better for my system memory to have it allow a selection made, from a checkbox arrangement for opening more than one project at the same time then close by default.
Since it is a lightweight fast opener, my work around is to close it after starting up my current work plan, and since it is on my Windows 10 task bar, I just hit AS whenever I want to start a new another project.

Functionally, a bookmarking ability for anywhere in a document, or fragment, or research tree would be useful.

A pet gripe of mine is that in Win 10 pro, (my OS) I prefer to have the taskbar along the top of my screen, however AS does not respect that boundary in all conditions


#10

I may be a little late, but I never use the Start page either.

I also don’t use the Research tree as it now is. What I’d love to see is the Research Tree in the right sidebar so it could be visible at the same time as the Document Tree. I think that would enhance its usefulness. :+1:


#11

:pushpin: Also late to the party and vwatson said everything that needs saying … 'cept I DO use the Research tree. GM


#12

I agree on putting research on the right. I haven’t used it much where it is, but I think I would if it was moved over and accessible with a click like the Notes are.


#13

Sorry! but the party doesn’t really start until I show up!

I don’t use the start page, but I don’t mind it. It isn’t big on my list of things to love or hate. I might use the research tree if it were on the right rather than on the left. Right now, I use OneNote for my research and note taking, I like being able to copy and paste from O.N. to A.S. With OneNote, I don’t have to navigate the tree window in AS so much since I put AS on the left and ON on the right (with reduced windows). I like the idea of Atomic Scribbler’s research tree though.


#14

A good few opinions here on the position of the research tree. I can see how it would be of real benefit to have the research tree and document tree open at the same time — quick access to character photos alone would be handy.

Let me think on this one a bit more. I wouldn’t want to lose the ability to have notes visible at all times, which would happen to a degree is the research tree were moved.


#15

The way I see it, the research and notes sections would be used at different times. Though, now that I think about it, you might want to incorporate research into notes. I think I’d like to see the option to anchor research tree on EITHER the left or right, so I could switch according to my immediate needs. floating window?


#16

What about incorporating notes into the Research tree? Seems a logical place to have them, maybe?