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


Some of the issues

Some of the issues with the Liquid View come up when I use Scapple to simulate some of the aspects, for the work on my PhD.

Here I have created a column for the lifecycle or process to augment, which is linked vertically top down with arrows to indicate the general flow. To the right of this is a brief description of the point/goal of each process and there is then a divider/quit a bit of space before I get onto the invention/innovation/idea/development columns, the first one which is a list of specifically desired functionality which should be useful in make one or more processes reach the potential of the goal. This is followed by a column of what needs to be implemented for such functionality to be realised:

Issues which arise from this is that it’s clear that it would be useful for the nodes to be interactable to jump to specific sections of the main document, or external documents, but this is clearly not all the headings of a document, this is a subset of a document which means that it can be thought of as an inserted graph.

How this could be handled is if it is its own document and then embedded into the main document but this could become confusing, especially when the author want to link to a section in the main document from this view, which is not in this view…

This leads me to think the we should be stricture with hierarchy, not simply allowing the user to do everything arbitrarily. Maybe we make level 1 headings a special thing, which can only be viewed in a specific way? My friend Tom is an author and he showed me how he writes a chapter per word processing document and then collates them all at the end. This is a perspective to consider.

Having a look at this specific example above, let’s say that the four bold headings are level 1 headings and that what is shown below them are then level two and that’s all we have in this view, where the level 2 headings are ‘stuck’ under the level 1 headings in columns and the user connects any headings arbitrarily and can move them around. How would the user designate only these four level 1 headings for a Liquid View?

I must think of some way to allow the author to create multiple Liquid Views with different sets of headings – maybe there is a default one for the whole document and then a ‘process’ for creating a sub-set like this, with maybe a slightly different background colour and appearance in the main document?

A Solution?

A solution to this could be to have two completely different kinds of Liquid Views, maybe with two completely different designs and names:

  • Document Liquid View
  • Embedded Liquid View

The document Liquid View would work as previously discussed but the embedded Liquid View would be embedded in the same way as you might add a picture but the Liquid View created through embedding will only exist inside the host document, so it’s not so much embedded as created, but the term seems right.

Embedded / Liquid Diagram

There will be no headings in this Embedded Liquid View on creation but the user can ctrl-click on the screen to choose ‘Insert’ and a hierarchy of all the headings in the host document will appear, allowing the user to insert one heading as a node or a series, if there are any below the level chosen. This lets the headings be linked from the Liquid View into the main document. The user can also create headings from scratch and ctrl-click on them to link them to headings in the document.

The embedded Liquid View is not a Liquid ‘View’ then, it becomes a Liquid Diagram, since the user can click on a heading/node to jump to it in the document if it’s connected, but cannot ‘expand’ the view back into a word processing view since there is no such underlying structure. I will change the name of this in the future but for now I’ll leave it as it is here since this was the flow of thought as I went through it, writing this text.

This means that we can design different types of Embedded diagrams and visualisations.

Note also that the embedded is live, not an image.

Note to Jacob: We should probably develop a plugin architecture for the Embeds so that they can be developed and tested while integrated into he main document through links but built by different people for time saving.

Other documents can also be called into a link from an embedded diagram through relative or name addressing.