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Title pages dialog needs to be reworked/simplified #122

anilgulecha opened this Issue · 10 comments

3 participants

anilgulecha Osku Salerma mtlwriterguy

Anecdotal evidence from a professional writer.

4- Sorry to keep harping on the title page wizard, but I'm still having
issues with it.

At the most basic, I suggest that the default format should include lines
for a repeat of the author name, street address, plus phone and email
address. Or at the very least, if you add lines everything should space down
automatically. I tried to add lines manually, but the whole 4.6 units per
line and the X/Y axis thing, overtaxed my brain and I ended up with
overlapping lines.

Believe me, you REALLY don't want to force the average writer to do math or
geometry (writers who are also programmers are excepted). No matter how
simple the calculations may seem, we're a notoriously numbers and
spatially-challenged bunch (seriously! So said my prof in educational psych,
all those years ago) so this kind of thing has to be idiot-proof, with as
little number manipulation involved as possible.

Also, many script formats require the address information to be on the
right-hand side of the page. Is there a way to add a flush-right command?

The first time I used our title page, I found it to have taken an extreme position on the flexibility/simplicity scale.

Here's perhaps a design that's much easier to use.

Maybe we could add another dropdown for font.

(tagging: oskusalerma)

Osku Salerma

We can certainly improve it, but we are definitely not taking away any flexibility. Taking away features in the name of "simplifying" things is something I absolutely hate in modern programs.

There can be a "wizard" like above, or whatever, but it must remain possible to put in text wherever on the page(s) one wants, in whatever font/style.


Hi! I'm the "professional writer" cited. Hope you don't mind if I put in my two cents.

Just to be clear, I am fully in favour of giving the user total control of text placement, formatting, etc. However, for the vast majority of users, unless that control is wrapped inside some kind of simplified wizard, it simply won't be used. It's like the difference between using the command line and a GUI. The former is used very efficiently by a tiny minority of highly skilled power users, while GUIs really opened up computing to the masses. I can tell you that if I'm on a deadline and desperately trying to come up with a closing scene, the last thing I'll want to worry about is the X/Y axis of my address block on the title page.



We can certainly improve it, but we are definitely not taking away any flexibility. Taking away features in the name of "simplifying" things is something I absolutely hate in modern programs.

Well, why not simply become an office suite? Allowing all kinds of changes to be made? We remove flexibility of things (like type of font, etc) to focus on writing screenplays easier.

The same argument stands for removing the ability to specify the X/Y co-ordinates of blobs of text. Screenplays have a specific format on title pages, and it behooves us to make these element (centered title, left contact, right agent contact, etc) easy to modify, via the default dialog, which I would argue would be along the lines of my mockup. Complex/flexible functionality, like we currently have should be accessible via "Advanced".


(Of course, not that what you said directly conflicts which what I laid out, but the idea that simple interfaces are at a disadvantage is not an idea I agree with.)

Osku Salerma

We don't remove any flexibility from actual screenplays, compared to writing on a typewriter. Anything you can do on a typewriter, you can do in a screenplay in Trelby.

Removing that flexibility for the title page would be a mistake. I don't know why you think screenplays have a specific format for covers; have a look at the millions of PDFs of professional screenplays floating around the net, and observe that pretty much every one of them has a different kind of cover page. There is no specific format for the title page, so we have to provide the flexibility for writers to generate exactly the title page they want.


Gentlemen, I think we all seem to be saying the same thing in different ways. I think we all fully agree that we don't want to force users to use only a single cover page format.

But, to be frank, that still becomes the effect if the interface is too complex for the average writer to fiddle with. I usually format my contact information on script covers as follows:

Joe Somebody
1234 Somewhere Street
Someplace, Quebec
Canada H0X 0X0

Tel.: 514-555-5555
Cell: 438-555-5555

Out of habit and previous experience, I usually put this on the right-hand side of the page.

Now, the Trelby default format only has two lines, for email address and phone number, a format I've seen nowhere else, by the way. The name and postal address are almost always present, and many people also add additional phone numbers and web URLs. Also, I'm used to putting this information on the lower right of the page, though I agree that there doesn't seem to be any rule about this.

Some script formats actually put the contact information on the left and any necessary copyright or draft/rewrite number information aligned in a separate column on the right.

Now, to add five or six additional lines to the existing contact info AND to flush it right with the existing dialog was such a daunting task that I just gave up. I kept miscalculating the spacing between the lines and had lines printing one on top of the other. I didn't even try to calculate the X/Y axis of a flush right block of text. People honestly don't expect their writing software to suddenly force them to do math and geometry.

So in practice I did not have the flexibility to put the text wherever I wanted like a typewriter, because with a typewriter you do it by eye and manual margin controls. In practice I was pretty much stuck with a default format I didn't like because it was too complicated to do anything else.

Osku Salerma

One option would be enhancing the title page dialog so you can write multi-line texts, and the x/y position means simply the topmost line, and further lines are advanced automatically according to the font size used. That would make it much easier to add/modify lines in the same block and move the block around the page.

Also adding an option to right-justify would be quite easy.


Actually, a technical question. Why do all screenwriting programs, not just Trelby, treat the cover page as something external to the script document as a whole? Why can't it just be a pre-formatted "page zero" that automatically appears before the first script format page?

I assume it has something to do with the page numbering, right? Is it too hard to exclude it from the automatic page numbering or the template system?

Osku Salerma

It is treated as a special-case because it is a special case. How would you create a title page using the normal screenplay styles? You can't do it. You can't even position text where you want because the normal indents on the element styles forbid you from using the full page. Things like special/non-proportional/different-size fonts are completely impossible to do as well.

The page numbering issue doesn't help either, but is not the main reason.

Osku Salerma

I've added the ability to both right-justify title page strings and for them to be able to consist of multiple lines. These two together should make it much easier to compose title pages, so I'm going to close this ticket. If you still feel it's too hard to use, feel free to re-open this ticket.

anilgulecha anilgulecha referenced this issue from a commit in anilgulecha/trelby
Osku Salerma Add ability for title page strings to consist of multiple lines.
Mostly fixes #122.
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