Better User Interface

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pigfender
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Tue Feb 04, 2014 10:32 am Post

The only thing I'd change on the UI (other than the language, of course) is the difference in height between the Binder header and the Editor header (and similarly the other ones, such as the Format bar, the Ruler, the Collection header, and those in the Inspector panel as well).

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 10.21.04.png
Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 10.21.04.png (151.7 KiB) Viewed 2071 times

But that's just me being very very picky. Let's be honest, Scrivener is a very attractive program.
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Tue Feb 04, 2014 9:50 pm Post

I agree completely with Keith and am not advocating for monochrome, just against the concept as color as a shortcut. I can't count the number of unusable web pages are out there because of color combos that blend completely together to me, not to mention charts, graphs and graphics that rely on color to distinguish data. Monochrome forces a certain attention/variability to shape, but to be honest I'm used to not keying of icons alone so I doubt it 'helps' and thus can be a dubious aesthetic-only choice.

Scrivener's binder icon colors are great, though I doubt I process them. I do set my toolbars to text only, can't distinguish between 'compile', 'settings', 'script', and 'notes'. They pretty much are identical and blend into the gray background. In fact, at a glance I can't tell add, colors, or inspector apart.

All of which to say choices are great, and I certainly get the value of color as identifier to most!
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KB
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Wed Feb 05, 2014 11:41 am Post

jeffnesh wrote:Scrivener's binder icon colors are great, though I doubt I process them. I do set my toolbars to text only, can't distinguish between 'compile', 'settings', 'script', and 'notes'. They pretty much are identical and blend into the gray background. In fact, at a glance I can't tell add, colors, or inspector apart.


That's interesting feedback, thank you - very useful for when the icons come to be redesigned.

All the best,
Keith
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Wed Feb 05, 2014 9:25 pm Post

Never thought much about it, but I realize now — reading through comments — that one other element helps me find the right tool/control/setting.

It's location.

I'm sensitive to colors, but don't rely on them much in this matter, and often I'm unaware of — or indifferent to — icons. Wherever possible, I usually opt for "text only" with no icon.

But I do remember where things are that I use frequently, and can get thrown off if the layout changes.

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robertdguthrie
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Thu Feb 06, 2014 1:19 am Post

I've got an app on my iphone that filters out various colors and shades of colors to give a rough idea of what something looks like to people with various kinds of color blindness. Seems like there should be something similar for the desktop to assess icons and UI color schemes to make sure adjacent colors don't blend together for some people. You know, like having a red object on a green background. ;)

And a quick google search yields http://michelf.ca/projects/sim-daltonism/ as one option.
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Thu Feb 06, 2014 1:54 am Post

If you already have it, recent versions of Photoshop have "proofing" models for the various common forms of colour blindness, using the same engine it uses for proofing print gamut ranges. That is what I use to make sure important details are not lost.
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Sun Feb 23, 2014 1:13 pm Post

I only just discovered the Use Label Color In options and was pleased to do so. They make identification many times easier. And more pleasant. They add color, which is always nice. I'm naming characters and locations and picturing scenes, and being able to colorize those figments of my imagination makes for a better workspace. I don't want that space to come with a prefab aesthetic that can only get in the way. I want extreme functionality extremely well-implemented. That requires a UI, which means there's going to be some stuff on the screen. Which is fine. Meeting those requirements unobtrusively is a far better measure of "modern" than chasing trends in dropdown box and button design.

I'm coming at this from the Windows side (and with under a week using Scrivener, which I'm loving by the way.) I know the Apple side is older and more developed, but I've watched a handful of videos many/most of which were done on Apples (presumably not in emulation mode), and when not viewed at full screen it's hard to tell if it's that or Windows 7. Even at full screen the two Scriveners look identical in overall visual impact, and it's only when I see the window controls, or sometimes by how fonts look, that I know for sure which it is. And that's interesting and amusing considering that KB, who would know, says that Scrivener's visuals are Apple to the core (ha ha!) while I think it looks exactly like Windows 7. Go figure.
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Sun Feb 23, 2014 1:50 pm Post


Yep, the binder is a good example of a UI element that should never be monochrome, because of the amount of information its icons need to convey.


This is very true, but I'm finding that when a binder doc is using its label color and gets selected, what happens feels a little off to me.

The color swatch gets minimized to an icon, instantly reducing the amount of color at the same time that the rest of the item takes on its selection highlight, which almost makes it look unselected, because the blue tint looks like just another color. The round label-colored icon is still serves to identify it, but it's so relatively small that to some extent it gets lost, which for me slightly reduces the information conveyed and, at least initially, introduces some uncertainty about item status.

Maybe if the color remained the same when selected, and the selection status was instead indicated not by a colored icon, which is different for each item, but by a plain white icon, that would be consistent across all items regardless of color. That way, a white icon comes to indicate item selection when colors are in use, just as the traditional blue overlay means selected when they're not.

That would make using white and other light label colors problematic in which cases a black icon could work just as well, and convey the same meaning as the white: if there's a dot on this item, it's selected. Hmm, but then the dot itself would dim when the selected item loses focus while remaining selected, which it inevitable would.

I'm sure I'll get used to it the way it currently works.
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Sun Feb 23, 2014 10:03 pm Post

AmberV wrote:If you already have it, recent versions of Photoshop have "proofing" models for the various common forms of colour blindness…

A bit to the side of the discussion, but worth noting, is that there are Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) designed to "make content accessible to a wider range of people with disabilities, including blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity and combinations of these. Following these guidelines will also often make your Web content more usable to users in general." See:

http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/

For web applications, see also:

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-us/firefo ... t-checker/

Cheers & hope this helps,
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Metal Mick
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Sun Mar 02, 2014 10:45 pm Post

HI all,

I'm quite new to Scrivener and saw this post with interest, because I'm struggling somewhat with its UI.

There are some glaring anomalies that are so far making my experience less than pleasurable: displaying the ruler is one - turning it on requires a trip to the formatting menu which is contrary to logic; so too, showing 'hidden' characters. Surely the 'View' menu is a more appropriate location?

I haven't figured out yet, how to insert special characters such as em rules and en rules, etc, but if it can be done, I will at some stage. I have discovered that there are many, many usages of the word 'special' in the user manual! (But sadly, I haven't found a reference to the one that interests me.)

I'm well aware that Scrivener - like all software - is designed to be used to accomplish tasks, and I have every confidence that I can work it out, if I persist with it. But really, if people have to dig, change is overdue. Perhaps the most telling thing is that others have written books on how to use Scrivener which ought to be unnecessary.

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Mon Mar 03, 2014 12:21 am Post

Metal Mick wrote:Perhaps the most telling thing is that others have written books on how to use Scrivener which ought to be unnecessary.


I know - I was outraged when I realised they wanted me to spend time learning how to drive before I could get my licence - it just shows how badly-designed cars are. And that there are whole books exploring aspects of War and Peace - which just shows how badly-written that book is, because obviously I must have to read all of those books before I can understand it. And I saw a whole book the other day about Photoshop, and another about OS X, and another about using the internet, and another about the iPhone, and one about chess, and one about using eBay, which just shows how all of those things need to be redesigned so that they have so few features that I could know everything about them without putting any effort into getting to know them.

I'm being facetious, but really, the only thing "telling" about the fact it has books written about it is that, like Photoshop, or Word, or OneNote, or any other application designed to bring together various tools, Scrivener is a deep application. But just as with those other applications, it doesn't mean that you *need* to read any of those books to get up and running with Scrivener. Far from it, as many thousands if users can attest. Which isn't to say no learning is required, but I can't think of anything worthwhile that doesn't require at least a little effort in early acquaintance.

I'm not sure why you think it's odd that there should be a menu item for the ruler, or why it would be odd that a tool that controls formatting would be in the formatting menu (although that may possibly be more of a Mac convention), but there is also a toolbar item for it.

There is a special characters palette in the Edit menu, by the way.

None of the above means that there aren't areas we could improve Scrivener, of course - Scrivener is undergoing constant development and I am continually reevaluating aspects of its interface and looking at what can be consolidated or made easier. But I wouldn't want to mislead anyone - if you're after an "app" with a limited feature-set that you have exhausted in four minutes, then Scrivener is definitely not the tool you'll want. It's designed for writers of long texts that have run into barriers and felt the need for the tools it provides.
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Mon Mar 03, 2014 1:17 am Post

KB wrote:
Metal Mick wrote:Perhaps the most telling thing is that others have written books on how to use Scrivener which ought to be unnecessary.


I know - I was outraged when I realised they wanted me to spend time learning how to drive before I could get my licence...<snip>... and one about chess, and one about using eBay, which just shows how all of those things need to be redesigned so that they have so few features that I could know everything about them without putting any effort into getting to know them.


Well, you can keep your facetiousness - I have no time for such stupidity. I was expecting a backlash, but not one so infantile. I was, after all, expressing my opinion as I am entitled to and I shall continue to do so, regardless of whether you like it or not. I care not if you agree with my opinions.You don't have to. Nor do I have to agree with yours.

KB wrote:I'm being facetious, but really, the only thing "telling" about the fact it has books written about it is that, like Photoshop, or Word, or OneNote, or any other application designed to bring together various tools, Scrivener is a deep application.


I disagree about its 'depth' - it is apparently powerful, and I think useful or I wouldn't have bought it. I also don't know of any similar software that has externally-written reference material. Comparing it to Word or PhotoShop for complexity isn't something that I expect to survive scrutiny.

KB wrote: But just as with those other applications <snip>... but I can't think of anything worthwhile that doesn't require at least a little effort in early acquaintance.


Agreed, and I shall persevere with Scrivener, as I did with Liquid Story Binder, (the sadly now-defunct MyNovel) and one or two others.

KB wrote:I'm not sure why you think it's odd that there should be a menu item for the ruler, or why it would be odd that a tool that controls formatting would be in the formatting menu (although that may possibly be more of a Mac convention), but there is also a toolbar item for it.


I don't think it's odd to have a menu item for the Ruler at all - just that it isn't located under the 'View' menu, given the control is a toggle for displaying (or viewing) it. As I wrote earlier, if you'd care to read it.

KB wrote:There is a special characters palette in the Edit menu, by the way.


Thanks for that! Labelled 'Character Map"? I missed that completely. I expected the tool to be able to Insert such characters to be hanging off the Insert item in the menu.

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Mon Mar 03, 2014 8:33 am Post

Metal Mick wrote:
I disagree about its 'depth' - it is apparently powerful, and I think useful or I wouldn't have bought it. I also don't know of any similar software that has externally-written reference material. Comparing it to Word or PhotoShop for complexity isn't something that I expect to survive scrutiny.



Maybe it's deeper than you have yet discovered. I can't think of any similar or even less powerful software that *doesn't* have externally written reference material. Even Evernote ...

(The one exception to this may be Tinderbox, but that's for an entirely different reason, certainly not because you can download, start, and be at home in the software immediately).

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Mon Mar 03, 2014 9:24 am Post

Metal Mick wrote:Well, you can keep your facetiousness - I have no time for such stupidity. I was expecting a backlash, but not one so infantile. I was, after all, expressing my opinion as I am entitled to and I shall continue to do so, regardless of whether you like it or not. I care not if you agree with my opinions.You don't have to. Nor do I have to agree with yours.

Tee hee.

Expressing your opinion isn't an entitlement. This is a corporately owned and run forum, and you have no "rights" here. This medium for your expression is a gift from the nice people at LitNLat.

Your freedom of expression as provided in the constitutions of several developed countries, actually only allows you to go set up your own website and host your opinions there. It doesn't require others to host them for you. Even then there are restrictions. The European Convention on Human Rights (which is the prevailing legislation for LitNLat's home country) restricts said freedom (see Article 10) in several ways. Protection of the reputation of others springs to mind here which would legally allow a company to prevent you from expressing opinions if they happened to be completely Wacko.

From a legal standpoint, LitNLat could delete your posts, cancel your forum membership and ban your email address and IP from signing up again. I can't imagine LitNLat ever taking these steps (the most I've ever seen them do is lock a thread - not delete, mind, just lock it). But you should bear in mind that the nice thing to do is always act on the internet as if you are a guest in someone's house. Because right now, you are.

Why would you ever want to give someone feedback where you were "expecting a backlash"? Why did that not give you pause for thought? If you don't care if others agree with your opinions why would you ever share them?
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Mon Mar 03, 2014 11:08 am Post

Metal Mick wrote:Well, you can keep your facetiousness - I have no time for such stupidity. I was expecting a backlash, but not one so infantile. I was, after all, expressing my opinion as I am entitled to and I shall continue to do so, regardless of whether you like it or not. I care not if you agree with my opinions.You don't have to. Nor do I have to agree with yours.


Not a backlash at all, nor infantile - and please do try to keep to the forum rules and avoid insults. You touched on a personal pet-hate - the idea that in this age of “apps”, all software has to be dumbed-down and that nothing should ever be deep (or "powerful" if that's your preferred adjective) enough to warrant further written materials. Nothing in the fact that a piece of software has books written about it says that you can't find your way around the software without such books. The existence of such books merely shows that the software is popular enough for it to be profitable for authors to write books about it, and that some people prefer having a printed book they can go through to learn software inside-out rather than learning by experimentation and quick tutorials. My examples, while a little facetious, were entirely apt - just as you have no time for what you find stupid, I have no time for the idea that if software has books written about it there must be something wrong with it - that's an idea that I personally find not only unsupportable but also potentially damaging to the existence of software that is anything more than an "app".

I also don't know of any similar software that has externally-written reference material.


What do you mean by "similar software"? There is heaps of software out there with externally-written reference material. Just because some other software you've tried that aims itself at writers doesn't have any externally-written reference material says nothing about the relative merits of either program. There are many books about Photoshop, but very few about The Gimp - does this mean that the Gimp is easier to use or superior in any way? No, it just means that Photoshop has enough users to make books written about it worth the investment of the publishers, which in itself says nothing about the quality of either program, or their ease of use.

Comparing it to Word or PhotoShop for complexity isn't something that I expect to survive scrutiny.


Scrutinise away - I'm not sure why you would think that, but I take it as a compliment as it presumably means that you think Scrivener isn't as hard to use as you first implied. :) Many users have described Scrivener as being "like Photoshop for writers", though, and that is indeed partly what I set out to do with it. Scrivener supports scriptwriting (with full script mode), academic writing (footnotes, comments etc), novel-writing (the ability to set up character sheets, location sheets), and can take any structure of manuscript (providing the user with full flexibility in how he or she organises the binder) and compile it into different formats (e-book, CreateSpace paperback, standard manuscript - or any other format the user decides to set up using the comprehensive Compile options). You can outline, connect outlines with the other editor, refer to research, transcribe material without taking your fingers of the keyboard, view multiple texts as though they were a single text, work on different parts of a manuscript alongside one another, use MultiMarkdown mark-up, export to various scriptwriting formats, and much, much more. In order to support all of this, richness and complexity is required, although we try to keep the advanced features out of your way until you need them as much as possible.

All of which is to say that Scrivener is very open-ended and flexible: it provides a bunch of integrated tools and lets the user work and write however he or she wishes. Such open-endedness necessarily entails complexity because the user at some stage needs to tell the program what to do with everything that has been created.

I don't think it's odd to have a menu item for the Ruler at all - just that it isn't located under the 'View' menu, given the control is a toggle for displaying (or viewing) it. As I wrote earlier, if you'd care to read it.


A point to which I replied, if you'd care to read it!

One thing to bear in mind is that Scrivener started as a Mac program. Having the ruler toggle in the "Format" menu is standard on Macs, perhaps less so on Windows and Linux. With the Windows and Linux versions, we have to strike a balance between putting menu items in the places Windows and Linux uses expect to find them, and keeping things consistent across platforms (because we have many cross-platform users). Do we always get that balance right? Of course not; software is constantly evolving. I have no doubt there are many areas we can still improve on, as I said in my earlier response. But we also aim for some internal consistency, so that commands related to formatting text are in the "Format" menu whereas more general view commands that apply to the entire UI are in the "View" menu (because Scrivener supports so very many types of views - web views, PDF views, image views, outline views, corkboard views and so on). We are continually reviewing the placement of menu items and will strive to improve them as we develop Scrivener further.
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