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Re: Emacs vs Scrivener

From: Matt Price
Subject: Re: Emacs vs Scrivener
Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2012 11:40:54 -0500

On Sat, Nov 24, 2012 at 12:46 PM, Bastien <> wrote:
> Hi Matt,
> Matt Price <> writes:
>> - IIUC, one organizing principle of Scriviener is a spatial metaphor:
>> "Scrivener is intended to be a kind of “writer’s shed” for those of us
>> who don’t have a spare shed."  So drafts are organized as projects
>> which are kept in virtual "binders".  I think this metaphorical
>> framework is important to its appeal -- it turns your laptop into a
>> giant desk on which ou can arrange and rearrange elements of a complex
>> text.  The whole interfae is influenced by this metaphor...
> One feature that can be implemented for Emacs is this one: bind several
> windows together and have some commands act on them all.
> For example, if you have a two-windows frame, you can bind these two
> windows and run C-s in both of them simultaneously.  Another example:
> you could open two dired buffers then run M-% (and `D') in both of them
> simultaneously.
> This is closer to the concept of a workspace than of virtual binders,
> and it's not straightforward to implement this, but it would be useful.
>> - In concert with this, each document -- each piece of a project --
>> has both a title and a synopsis, which are represented by an "index
>> card"  You cna move index cards around within the project.  I like
>> this because sometimes, with a ocmplex piece of writing, it can be
>> helpful to look at al the elements and rearrange them in space.  A
>> whiteboard is good for this, or scraps of paper on a blank table.
>> Org-mode lets you refile headings easily, but the one-dimensional
>> ordering isn't as satisfying to me as objects that can be dragged form
>> one place to another.
> The refile mechanism could be enhance by allowing fuzzy matching of
> headlines, and creating those that do not exist in the .org file.
> On my todo-list for when I have some time (which is obviously not
> anytime soon...)
>> What do you think, Bastien?  Is a lot of this already in org-mode?  &
>> what kinds of tweaks would be necessary to make the emacs interface
>> more tactile-feeling, or anyway spatially intuitive?
> I don't know about the spatial metaphor, I'm not familiar enough with
> scrivener.  But there is surely room for small improvements tha makes
> the Emacs experience even better.
Looking again at these screenshots:  I think a big part of what
Scrivener has going for it is in the choices it makes regarding
display of data.  The display has 3 columns:

Left:  View of project or "binder" tree -- each project is likely to
contain a couple of top-level items, e.g. "Draft" and "Notes", with
lots of sub-headings in each of these.  This view gives a very quick
overview of the whole project.

Right:  Several kinds of metadata for the active node:  on top, the
synopsis'; in the middle, a general metadata editor; and on the
bottom, some further notes.

Centre:  one of several views. There's the drag-and-drop 'corkboard'
interface I talked about before, but there's also a simple text-editor
view and an outline view.  If we ignore the drag-n-drop interface
(which is hard) I can imagine a lot of this could be done in Emacs
using something like the linked-window setup Basien describes & maybe
some minor modes for editing org document nodes. So you could have a
setup something like this:

Project:  Each project lives in a single text file for now (might be
unwieldy for some projects)

Left:   a headlines-only view of an org-mode file, in which clicking
on a headline activates it and/or unfolds a subtree (a '+/-' marker in
the first column might be nice here).
Cenre:  an indirect buffer that shows only the active node.
Right Top:  an editor for a :Synopsis: property -- just an wasy way to
access this property without folding & unfolding.
Right Middle:  some kind of view of all node properties
Right Bottom:  Not sure we nee this 'notes' node.

Then the trick would be to bind some set of keystrokes reliably across
these windows that makes navigation between them really easy.

Maybe an interface like this would make a good GSOC project?  'Emacs
Writer's Shed'?


> Best,
> --
>  Bastien

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