Our Windows development team provides an insight into progress.
Scrivener 3.0 for Windows - from the horse's mouth
I understand that some Windows users are getting more and more frustrated, wondering if the release of Scrivener 3 for Windows is ever going to happen! I get it. Two months ago, similar frustrations and questions were thumping around inside my head. Heck, if I were a Scrivener Windows user without the perspective and insight I have, I'd be mulling over some verbal eggs to lob across the fence in frustration right now too. We initially slated “some time in 2018” for release, but later revised that to “by the end of Q2 2019”, and we're not going to make that either. Thankfully we are very close now, so I wanted to personally give some insight into the hurdles and challenges we have had to overcome.
Scrivener for Mac has never stopped moving - ever! Keith once compared my role akin to Sisyphus
First and foremost, we are all determined to get it right. We just don't release half-baked software, but strive for the best it can reasonably be with a high utility yield. We do this because we genuinely care about our audience, and our software. Often, that last 5%-10% of development tweaking and fixing is hard to justify as it takes an inordinate amount of extra time; especially when many organisations just push it out and fix it later, but we don't see the need to frustrate our audience that way. Intrepid users can always download the beta of Scrivener 3 after all and the beta has been robust and stable for at least six months or so now.
I believe Scrivener for Windows history speaks for itself. For version 1 we spent around a year in beta; I still have the nightmares - don't ever try and build your own rich text engine from scratch debugging that thing is like opening Pandora's box. After that we released 24 FREE updates. Scrivener 1 for Windows was only ever supposed to match Mac Scrivener 1.5.4, but soon incorporated many Scrivener 2 Mac features (that Mac users paid an upgrade fee for). Things like:- eBook formats (ePub and .mobi), Meta data, Inspector Comments and Footnotes, Collections, Multimarkdown, Multiple Project Notes, Final Draft import and export, Composition mode background image, Custom Binder icons, Syncing with iOS and cloud, etc. None were ever in our target Mac 1.5.4.
Scrivener for Mac has never stopped moving - ever! Keith once compared my role akin to Sisyphus - you know the Greek who was punished to push a large rock up on a steep hill, only to find it rolling back when nearing the top. Whilst this does frustrate me at times no end, I would not have it any other way as Scrivener is constantly getting better, more refined and useful. Keith is really good at what he does. So, as much as pushing another dozen rocks up a hill pains me and spits expletives at my computer screen at times, Scrivener and our audience is all the better for it - and that floats my boat to some extent; the satisfaction that comes from extreme effort.
Scrivener for Windows, for the first time ever looks just as beautiful and useful as the macOS version! We want as much parity between Scrivener Mac and Windows as possible. The meeting point was version 3, but since then Mac Scrivener has already had six releases! So, my role as Sisyphus continues with the only constant being change itself and the never ending cycle of steep hills. We keep running, but the gap feels like it shrinks minimally. So, there's already stuff in Windows 3 that the current macOS version has. Things like:- many specific placeholders, progress bar improvements, themes and dark mode, menu parity is constantly changing, etc. A lot of the blame for wanting to add great features like dark mode is squarely on my shoulders as I wanted it for me too; my eyes are just ruined by bright screens.
Outside of this, Windows has always been a tougher development platform. Nothing new there. Microsoft don't give as much away to entice development on the platform like Apple does. We've had to build our own Dictionary & Synonym engines, Emoji functionality, we even built our own version of the Mac only Menu Search functionality (so useful for finding where something sits in the menu structure). To the best of my knowledge we're the only Windows software to offer that. The list is actually really long as to all the bespoke stuff we've had to build from scratch that Mac devs just get out of the box. We've had a lot of issues with Windows Scaling and Zoom also i.e. looking awesome on one device and crappy on another, or scaled differently across multiple simultaneous displays. A large part of this is that the Windows world has so many different vendors building their own versions of hardware. Apple devs only have to worry about one and Apple typically does all the heavy lifting for them - it's going to look how it looks in Xcode and that's it.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have some more rocks to push.
A large part of this problem time wise is that it's hard for us to duplicate reported issues as we can't possibly own every combination of Windows hardware; hence why we are so grateful to those committed beta testers who really help us wade through these problems. We had issues getting the C++ Qt framework, that we use for Scrivener Windows development, to accomodate Multi Document View a.k.a. Scrivenings as a result of a grave design flaw in the document/layout structure of Qt - this has been around since v1 of Scrivener for Windows, but we've improved it massively in 3. Adding extra list item types has also been a challenge as has Page View. Fortunately, most of these are behind us now and our last focus is getting the Compiler 100% and fixing remaining reported bugs.
We've had to replace eSellerate, our payment, serial generator, software registration and activation provider - that was a month plus of recent interruption and had to be completed before 30th June 2019 before eSellerate turned out the lights for good. This impacted Windows: Scrivener 1.x, Scapple and Scrivener 3.
Finally, something that's not visible to users is that we have the Scrivener for Android backend completely abstracted and built into the Scrivener Windows desktop, so once 3 is out we can focus on the Android interface only as all the heavy lifting on the complex backend has been done and dusted. These are not excuses. We're late and I'll wear that no problem. It's purely some insight into the challenges Tiho and I face each day. We are both extremely committed and passionate about delivering the best Scrivener 3 possible, as is the rest of the team at Literature & Latte. I will personally commit, and be held responsible, for having Scrivener 3 for Windows ready for release on the 30th August 2019. I appreciate everyone's patience and look forward to releasing soon. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some more rocks to push.
Scrivener for Windows Developer