First of all, I have to say that Manuscripts as a concept is excellent, and I have been using it for all the documents I had to create lately (some of them quite large) DESPITE all the glitches and bugs that I am about to list here. I hope the developers will iron these out in the foreseeable future, because the app is otherwise excellent.
With Manuscripts, I managed to cut the time I usually need to create a document by about a half (again: despite the bugs and what I had to do to get around them). The exported documents are somewhat uglier than what I usually produce (for now, I guess, with some exporting features missing or not being complete), but they are also more consistent. However, it's not a beauty contest, and the time I save is invaluable. In fact, I am spending no time at all with formatting a document any more, except for a few minutes I am spending in Manuscript defining the styles I need.
Feature-wise as far as I am concerned Manuscripts is done: it has everything I need - some of the features do not seem to be complete yet, most of them have bugs, but overall this is the document editor I actually need. Exactly. Thanks for that!
Now for all the problems that I have with the app, here's the list.
Copy paste is hectic and crashes from time to time. The problems that I have seen in particular are:
Copy-paste does not always work in tables (I cannot copy-paste something into a cell)
To copy-paste a table (from Word, for example) you have to be in a paragraph, not table. For this reason I have not realized this worked at all for a long time.
When copy-pasting a bullet-point list, it becomes a single item (paragraph) instead of becoming a bullet list as expected. Same if I copy-paste into a bullet list.
Copy-paste does not work for pictures
Sometimes copy-paste just does not work at all. Any element, anywhere: it just does nothing. Sometimes it does do something, but the result does not appear on screen - however, if you save and re-open the document, it’s there. This can potentially mess up your document with changes that are there but you can’t see, but will be there next time you open the document to confuse you utterly.
When copying listings, I have to go in the listing editor to copy-paste, because just selecting text outside of it will copy some link to the listing instead of the text that I have selected. The link seems to be useless by the way.
2. Handling of paragraphs as next item after pictures, listings
There is always a way to use the keyboard to start a next item of any type (pictures, listings, etc.) except paragraphs. This is the most used item, and I have to use the menu or the + sign every time I want to create a new one, except if it is after another paragraph or title. Just pressing “enter” after a picture or listing or table does nothing.
Additionally, ctrl-enter occasionally creates a paragraph instead of a title (and then I have to backspace and ctrl-enter again to get the title).
Listings are great, but syntax highlighting is not exported. Code listings with syntax highlighting are much easier to read, and look great in Manuscripts, and I was disappointed that the exports do not have this feature.
Also, the listing editor can only be accessed if you click at about the centre of the listing. In the case of long listings, it is very difficult to find the “right place” to enter edit mode. Sometimes I spend minutes clicking here-and-there trying to find the right spot (I tend to have long listings), because I need to go into edit mode for a copy-paste of some text (also: copy-paste of listings outside of edit mode does not work).
The summary line in tables cannot be deleted, nor can it be deleted when exporting to Word. If I press “enter” on the next-to-last row, whatever is beyond that point disappears and reappears later. If I delete the paragraph after a table I just inserted, half of the last row disappears, and I have to undo twice to make it reappear. Tables in general are very glitchy and I have learned not to touch them.
A way to set the size would be nice. Now I need to pre-process my pictures to make sure small ones do not look blurry when resized by Manuscripts. Alternatively, if Manuscripts would not enlarge pictures that are smaller than the screen width at all, that would work as well.
When exporting to Word or PDF, the hierarchical structure of titles is not exported. The big problem with this is that Manuscripts does not offer in itself all the editing features that might be required in a finished document, but if I export to Word to add the final touches, I am faced with a flat structure where there are no titles, but only body text. This makes a large document impossible to edit, without losing all the time I gained by using Manuscripts in the first place. I cannot even add a ToC.
The same problem with PDF: the export becomes a flat text file, instead of providing a navigable structure based on the titles (that can act as a ToC). Large PDF files are very difficult to read as a result.
7. Overall stability
Not very good. The app crashes on me very regularly. Luckily, with the autosave feature, I have never lost more than a paragraph at a time. Crashes are so common, that I have integrated them in my workflow: when a crash occurs, I take a screenshot to remember what I have written, then restart the app side-by-side with the screenshot, and type in the last paragraph again. Also, before any action I take in the app other than typing, I now save every time, as there is a very high likelihood that the app will crash. This is that bad.
8. Inconsistency between the text window and the outline
Often changes made in the outline are not reflected in the text window and vice versa. This creates an inconsistency that scares me, because I don’t know which version does Manuscript consider “true”, and what if I make any changes to the version that is out of sync. So when that happens, I save, quit, and reopen the document, which clears the inconsistency. This happens so often that I have made a habit of doing section reorganisations in bulk, because I know that after that the outline will probably become out of sync and I need to restart the app.
Sometimes, the outline becomes inconsistent for no apparent reason. Right now I am at section 8 of my document, and the outline refuses to show anything beyond section 4 for some reason. I will now have to save and re-open the document.
9. Visual glitches
When I insert a new picture with ctrl-command-P, or a new listing with ctrl-command-L, Manuscript goes on a journey of jumping erratically between sections like crazy, which I have to wait out. Once it’s done with the hopping, which takes a couple of seconds, I have to find where the newly inserted element is (it is usually not on the screen at that point) and then I can continue working.
10. Inconsistency in the clickable interface elements
At the side of each element (paragraph, listing, table, etc.) there’s the little “o”, the blue sidebar, and the “+” sign. When I click on them sometimes they do this, sometimes that (what I mean is that there are different contextual menus that potentially can appear). If I want to add a new paragraph for instance (which I usually do with the “+” sign, specifically after pictures, listings and tables, where the enter key does not create one) I sometimes have to click several times on the “+” for the menu which allows to insert a new paragraph appears. Sometimes I get frustrated with this and go to the menu instead, which is consistently there.
Also there are some problems with the sidebar: sometimes I can drag an element with it to a new place, sometimes I cannot. So I have instead taken a habit to use the outline to do that, but then the outline and text often become inconsistent (we’ve discussed this earlier), and I have to close and reopen the app.