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Find / Replace in Project?


#1

My novel project has hit a snag. Maybe the search & replace functionality is not yet complete? I’ll try to convey my recent experience of trying to replace all occurrences of a character’s name in a project.

The tooltip for “Find” in the Word Processor toolbar reads, “Find text in the document.” I remind myself that Scrivener terminology applies here – “document” means the current Scene, not the document as a whole (which AS calls the Project). To be clear, I’m in very much in need of a “global” Search & Replace function for the entire Project (but not including Notes, Research, or Fragments).

Well, more realistically OPTIONALLY including any of these Project components.

The present function “Find in Project” isn’t working as I would expect. I’m not sure if I’m missing the obvious, but when I run a Find in Project search, the result is just one block of text, taking over the left pane, with one (of many) hits in bold (color would be much easier to see).

Having examined and manually changed that hit, there is no Next or Previous button. I’m left with one result from a search and nothing further to be done.

More significantly, there’s no Replace in Project mode for this feature. I will have to use Find in Project to identify the NEXT Chapter containing any hits, click into the chapter text, and then use Find & Replace in the current chapter to make all the changes. Since there are scores of chapters, this isn’t a practical solution.

Finally, it took me a while to discover that, unlike the Find in Tree function, I can’t dismiss the results from the left pane. Instead, I must switch to the Project toolbar and select Document. This is a little inconsistent, and the affordance to dismiss the Find in Project results is rather far away from the command that created it.

I hope this highly subjective feedback is helpful,

Allen


#2

Are you seeing a scrollbar to the right of the results for find in project? You should see an entry for each paragraph that contains the text you’re searching for, with space between each entry. See the screenshot below. Scrolling should allow you to move down the list, clicking on whichever result you want to visit.

If you’re seeing something different, can you email me a screenshot so I can take a look.

A global replace hasn’t been implemented yet. It’s easy enough to build, but the real difficulty is that as you’d be replacing without opening the scenes, a roll back or undo in the evernt of a user mistake would be a huge development undertaking, and my feeling is that building it without an undo would be quite dangerous.

Example: a typo in the replace box where you go to replace “Allan” with “Fred” but inadvertantly overwrite Fred with “a” would be a nightmare for the user to fix.


#3

Exploring further in 4.3, I found a few somewhat unexpected behaviors.

  1. There’s definitely no scrollbar in the right pane.

  2. There are boxes inside of boxes in the right pane, unlike your screencap.

  3. When a note is opened (by double-clicking in the Project Tree), a note always opens to occupy as much vertical depth is left in the right pane after keeping all the other open notes in view, fully collapsed. This is true (taking up all available vertical space) even if the note is empty or very brief.

  4. When there are too many open notes to fit, newly opened notes just get positioned out of sight above the topmost visible item. IOW, for some reason the missing scrollbar is producing a side effect that makes more than a few open notes unworkable.

I think I’ll stop testing here, since clearly my app isn’t behaving correctly, and usability comments wouldn’t be applicable.

Allen

Here’s an empty note taking up all available space:

Here’s Note “AC15” squeezed off-screen at the top of a “full” list of notes:


#4

Allan, I think we’re talking about two different things here. My screenshot refers to the project find, not the notes section on the right (the subject of your other topic).


#5

Ah, indeed. So we are. Oops!

Curiously, my first project search, for something rather ubiquitous, came up with just one hit, and didn’t highlight the text in the central pane, so all I saw was the bolded hit instance in the results pane. Then, of course, I got into replying about the notes pane, and once again demonstrated the futility of trying to do several things at once…

My current project searches, however, are working fine. Bold highlight in the results pane, current result with blue background, and hit term on darker blue background in central pane. That problematic search was for a phrase in angle brackets, so that might have thrown off finding it in the rich text buffer. I’ll try to investigate further.

My only problem with project search (other than no replace function) is that only the first hit item is highlighted in the central pane. If the target occurs several times in a long paragraph, there’s no indication that there are multiple hits. This would definitely result in my missing some of them unless I re-ran the search on the current chapter.

In addition to highlighting, it might be useful for the results pane to indicate the number of hits in the linked paragraph, at the end of the displayed paragraph fragment.

One issue with highlighting the hits in the editing pane is that once that pane receives focus, the highlights disappear. Ideally there could be a separate highlighting function for this purpose, so the author could go systematically through the text, taking care of each one in order. Perhaps this is overkill in short paragraphs, but think of using AS with Beckett or Joyce! I don’t tend to write unparagraphed chapters, but now and then a paragraph may stretch for pages (e.g., a rant like Lucky’s speech).

This potential problem is ameliorated by being able to re-select the hit fragment in the results pane, which re-highlights the hit. This alone is a good reason for highlighting all of them… And perhaps this workflow is sufficiently useful to avoid having to develop a second type of durable highlighting. (I’m really not trying to drown you in features!)

Allen


#6

Quick follow-up on angle-bracket incident:

It’s working fine. Previous experience probably just cockpit trouble.

Allen


#7

I think there’s definitely room for improvement here as well. The same sort of functionality is used by SmartEdit — showing a large, paragraph sized block of results text with a key word or phrase highlighted — and it suffers from the same limitations when multiple instances occur in close proximity.


#8

That’s good news. One thing about searching digital text is that one usually can expect an absolute result – that is, every single occurrence is found and can be identified by the user. So we may become too trusting that the software we happen to use will never omit anything that’s a match.

Problems do crop up, of course – notably when some non-displayed byte happens to be embedded in a target word so that a byte-by-byte comparison fails, but subjectively the target should be found anyway. But I don’t think this is much of an issue with fiction writing!

Allen