blog update 17 Sept 2017


Author & Liquid

I launched Liquid | Author to the App Store the Friday before The Future of Text and we have had some time to test it and Jacob has worked on improvements but today is the Sunday after and I’ve had to withdraw it from sale since there are still some issues.

What remains to be done are a number of smaller issues, which I’m sure he can complete on Monday, but there is also the issue with the pinch to collapse into Outline which is concerning me since this is something he has worked on even with a special build. Maybe it’s really simply to fix, maybe it’s more fundamental.

I have also introduced a change which I hope will be quite a big boost for the project, removing Liquid | Flow as a separate product and integrating it into Liquid | Author so that I only have one macOS product and yes, Flow will still be useable from all applications but will now be called just Liquid again :-)

I have therefore re-written the User Guide:

This causes more work and time and stress. Will it ever be releasable? It is simply not easy to develop with a small budget. I hope Author will be solid enough so that the stress on my chest will lessen (I feel like I’m about to star in the original Aliens movie) and I can think more about development and so on…


Future of Text

The feedback has been very good and it really is great to have quite a few people from Southampton involved. Second day feedback not as excellent and maybe in the future we simply make it a networking/discussion day? Archived:



I feel utterly at the mercy of development for Author as to how I can do with my PhD. I am not a literature review or review person nor am I am philosopher, I am an inventor/developer who needs to live in the environment I am trying to invent for. If I don’t have Author to build Liquid Views into, I simply can’t see what I can do.

I mapped out some interactions for mac vs iPad which was useful. What became clear from this is that interactions for executing commands immediately and an equivalent for mouse over to show further information needs to be developed for iOS for Liquid Views:

This is related to mapping functions to interactions for Liquid View in general:

Which situated within the space of textual elements, as shown in a  small view:

And a massive view:

All of which is designed to augment the document’s knowledge lifecycle, in a very wide map, which is best viewed in the Scapple authoring app where you can zoom and pan and which presents design issues for Liquid Views because of its size and interaction complications:

Anyway, tomorrow we go to Oxford and I’ll get to spend some time with Wendy and Edgar will hopefully get to meet Tim.


Note: I was planning to design a freeform thinking tool for iOS but it becomes clear again and again that any tool must be part of a real workflow, which is why Liquid Views are a view of normal Author documents.

Liquid | Author User Guide

This is the release version of the user guide for Liquid | Author, incorporating Liquid | Flow (which is no longer a separate product).

Welcome To Liquid | Author

Author is a different kind of word processor with a minimalist work environment and powerful controls. Please have a look through this introduction to learn how to get the most out of Author:

Full Screen

Exit full screen and enter full screen view with the ESC key (normally you can only use the ESC key to exit full screen views).

Read/Edit Modes

Author features Read and Edit modes which are optimised for each type of activity. When you are in Read mode the text button says ‘Edit’ and when you are in Edit mode the button says ‘Done’. In Read mode Author behaves much like a text reader application, where you can do spacebar to go down a screen or select text and do spacebar for text-to-speech.
Toggle the modes with cmd/

Instant Outline

Pinch in on your trackpad to collapse the text to only see headings. You can then click on a heading to jump to that section or pinch back out or ESC to return to normal view.
Re-Order The Outline
If you are in Edit mode you can also click to the left of a heading and drag to re-order.  Assign Text As Heading
To assign a line of text as a Heading select the text and Ctrl-click on it and choose ‘Heading’ or use the keyboard shortcuts cmd-1 for level 1, cmd-2 for level 2 and so on.

‘Liquid’ Interactions

For advanced text interaction with the text in Author and all the text in your other macOS applications, use the Liquid utility:

To Use

To use, select the text and execute a keyboard shortcut (you will have to set this up yourself, see below). This will copy the text across into the Liquid bar. You can then choose a command; either through clicking in the menu or through using keyboard shortcuts such as ‘R’ for ‘References’ and then ‘W’ for ‘Wikipedia’.
It’s worth getting used to this since it will allow you to look anything up or do any of these operations in less than one second: •  Search Google, Google Images, Reverse Image Search, Google Maps & more•  References Wikipedia, IMDB, Etymonline, Google Definition & more•  Convert Currencies and other units: Area, Speed, Distance, Volume & more•  Translate over 100 languages•  Copy with Link, as Citation which will then be automatically recognised in Author & more•  Share via Email, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, WordPress & more

To Set The Keyboard Shortcut

To set the keyboard shortcut takes a minute because of macOS security:
1) Go to the System Preferences (under the Apple menu, top left on the screen) and click on the ‘Keyboard’ icon and then choose the ‘Shortcuts’ tab. 2) (IF you want to use cmd-space you will first need to disable that keyboard shortcut for Spotlight. You can do that by clicking on ’Spotlight’ in the column on the left and then giving Spotlight another shortcut or no shortcut.)3) Finally, in the column on the left click on ‘Services’ and then choose ‘Liquid’ in the column on the right, then assign your keyboard shortcut.
Liquid In Other macOS Applications
To launch Liquid you will need to launch/open Author (but you can quit Author and Liquid will keep running). If Liquid is not available choose ‘Liquid’ from the Help menu in Author).
You can also click on the horizontal Liquid bar in the macOS menu to enter text rather than launch it through selecting text and doing the keyboard shortcut.


Assigning Text To Be A Citation

To cite a reference; select the text you want to have cited then cmd-t. You can now choose; Manually (keyboard shortcut ‘enter’), Mendeley (keyboard shortcut ‘m’)  Amazon (keyboard shortcut ‘a’) or Web (if you copied As Citation using Liquid, as described above).

Once you have done so, whatever you had previously copied will be automatically added to the search dialog, which you can, of course over-write if it’s not what you are looking for. You will then be presented with a list of search results of which you can choose one and all the relevant information will be copied across to the Citation Dialog where you can also choose to add further information.

Video Citation via YouTube

Assigning a YouTube citation is a bit different but very very cool; You can choose to cite video from the exact time in the video when your citation is spoken, for example, Doug Engelbart talks about demonstrating his early prototypes (make sure you are in Read mode when you click on this to view the video and Edit mode to edit any details:

“…they never thought about just how quickly and flexibly you could do things…” (Engelbart, 2013)
To assign text with a YouTube citation go to YouTube and Ctrl-click in the video itself and choose ‘Copy URL from Current Location’. Switch to Author and select text and cmd-t as usual and choose ‘From YouTube’ (or hit ‘enter’) and fill in the ‘author’ field since the system does not know who is speaking in the video.

Search Document / Find

When you search with cmd-f and you have selected text, the document will instantly change to show only sentences which have the selected text in them. You can then click to jump to any of the occurrences shown or ESC or click in the margin to return to regular view


Share your documents as native Author documents or export them as .DOC or .RTF files which are accepted by most word processors: Choose ‘Export to…’ in the File menu. Documents will automatically have a References section at the end, where all Citations will be listed. The style can not be edited currently but we will be adding Citation Styles over time.


Thank you for being a pioneer Author user, I look forward to hearing from you. Please visit for more information or email me with any questions/comments/bugs/suggestions at

Frode Hegland
London 2017


The Future of Text, Tuesday the 12th

On the second day of the 2017 Future of Text symposium we had a good group where we worked to listing what we feel the important and interesting issues are for the future of text.

This was first summarised in a collaborative Google Sheet like this:

Which I then summarised into this:

This was still quite unwieldy so I put this into Scapple (with errors, there was just a short break). What I did here was to put the names on the left and their paragraphs in the centre, with categories listed on the left as they emerged:

The small text was hard to read and the lines not too informative so I changed the layout. Here The categories are spread (manually) around the screen in chunks based on ‘votes’ (I asked everyone to drag a line from their name to the categories during lunch, to indicate what they thought was important and interesting):

This was slightly useful but it did really highlight the issues with many lines and not having auto layouts based on criteria, such as ‘List By Most Connections, vertically’ but it did help us arrive at the end of the day quote:

The is to work to build tools to augment academic improvement which will be impactful