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Storyspace Conclusion

ADAM: Storyspace does have some problems. As I said above, I would like the text entry environment, most notably the backspace key, to be more responsive. The sluggishness is due, Eastgate tells me, to Storyspace checking all its links each time you backspace to make sure none have been deleted. As a writing tool, Storyspace should have a snappy text entry environment. I also would like the Undo to apply to more actions. I somehow managed to find a key sequence relating to the Enter key that would clean up all of my writing spaces in the storyspace view. All fine and nice, but I didn’t want to clean the window – I liked how I had them set up. That’s the sort of action I’d like to be able to undo easily, although I must say that this too has been fixed in 1.12, although not through Undo, but with option-Clean Up Window, which isn’t terribly obvious. [MATT: Sometimes Undo undoes things you never even did. If you accidentally create a writing space in such a way that it now has some of your old writing spaces inside it (which can be done with a single accidental click), selecting Undo will delete the new space and your old spaces as well!] Recently I’ve been discussing the pros and cons to adding support for infinite Undo capability to Storyspace, and assuming they can decide on an interface that will minimize user confusion, it might happen at some point. A few features, such as navigation along a path (though this one can be hard to pin down if you have a lot of guard fields) and searching for text inside text spaces don’t always quite work. However, Eastgate (in the person of Mark Bernstein) took our feedback and bug warnings very seriously. There are a few more serious bugs (though fewer under System 7) that cause the program to crash on occasion, but a timed Autosave (5, 10, or 15 minutes) will save all but the last few words. Of course those last few words are the best you’ve ever written, but such is life.

The interface could also use a little cleaning up, a task which would be easily accomplished with a couple of hours and ResEdit. [MATT: We’re talking here about things as simple as ellipse dots after some menu items that do not call up any dialog box, and lack of them after some that do.] That might clarify the dialog boxes as well, since Apple’s human interface guidelines for control and item spacing in dialog boxes do make them more readable. The interim documentation I received could also use work, but Eastgate is continually improving and enhancing the manual and promises to send the final version to anyone who gets the interim version.

Overall, Storyspace is a unique program that provides some features which many programs should have, such as object linking. Like all unique programs, however, Storyspace must define new tools and paradigms for users. That effort succeeds on the whole because of the diligent efforts of the developers, but still needs work in certain areas, most notably in the advanced authoring tools that are contained in large and confusing dialog boxes, some with non-standard interface elements. Still, its concept and possibilities make Storyspace an interesting program to work with in many different situations. The continuing evolution of the interface and presentation can only increase its utility and attractiveness (and rating :-)) in the future.

MATT: I agree. My negative comments are not nitpicking; they are small things which, if changed, could make a huge difference and make this into a knockout program. Eastgate regularly sends me updates and responds positively to my suggestions, taking reports of real bugs very seriously indeed – though I find them less interested in the user-interface issues. You can build things with Storyspace that no other program I know of (in this price range) will let you build; you may find the interface pretty cranky along the way, but when you’re done they work. Click on a text, type a word, and zap, the next screen is in your face. That’s what Storyspace is really about.

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