A one-tool toolbox?

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DavidR
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Fri Jul 21, 2017 4:09 pm Post

In a thread in a different forum, a discussion has been going on about how to reimport from Word back into Scrivener in order to do final corrections there. I raised a note of puzzlement about why one would use Scrivener for this purpose, rather than just doing it in Word, where it's going to end up anyway. I found that the original poster is not the only one who uses Scrivener in this way. So I thought I'd try to satisfy my curiosity by posting a question on this topic here.

It seems to me that between me on the one end and some of the folks in that other thread there may be a difference of approach concerning tool usage. I like using several specialized tools, passing information from one to the other as needed. I don't expect one tool to meet all my needs. Thus I gather some information and also jot down ideas wherever I am in Evernote. This gets transferred into Scrivener, where also some information is placed without recourse to Evernote. In Scrivener I organize topics, information, and ideas, and create partial drafts that also get organized there. I use the Research folder extensively, the Draft folder much less so; and I've yet to compile anything. For the actual work of writing and polishing I transfer from Scrivener into Nota Bene, which is specifically designed for the kind of academic work that I do. In this way, each software package does what it does best, and I can work to the top of my capacity without overburdening the capacity of any of my tools. The disadvantage, of course, is a more complicated workflow, as well as having bits and pieces in various programs. Of course, there's a monetary cost factor as well.

Others seem to prefer to work from a one-tool toolbox, for instance getting Scrivener to serve not only for organizing information but for producing a final document as well. I'm also active on the Evernote user forums, and I see a lot of this one-tool-for-everything approach there. People actually write books using Evernote alone, which strikes me as a horrifying way of making one's work harder than it needs to be. (They also complain bitterly that Evernote, which was never designed for this, doesn't work the way they want it to.) Yet I'm sure that the people who do this find it a simpler approach compared with transferring data from program to program.

So, what do others think, especially those who use Scriv for everything? I hope I've presented that position fairly, though I know it's far from completely. Is this really a difference in the way people approach their tools, or am I making it up?
David
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simeva
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Fri Jul 21, 2017 6:24 pm Post

I prefer the one toolbox approach, with Scrivener at the centre of my workflow, but when there are things that Scrivener can't do I get other programs on board.

I started to use Scrivener to write screenplays. I have learned to use the various tools to do almost everything I want now, from initial research to brainstorming story to writing a finished script. The only thing Scrivener can't do for me is tell me my page count - I have to export to Final Draft for that.

I just finished writing the book and exhibition panels for an art exhibition in Scrivener. Research - structuring content - writing text - and then compiled to an .rtf for sending off to a designer along with some page mock-ups done in Powerpoint, and a budget in Excel.

I run a separate Scrivener project as a Masterlist of projects / brainstorming ideas / early notes, and another as a place to analyse other stories and scripts.

I'd like Scriv to do more (eg number my screenplay pages) but there are detailed explanations from the designers on the forum about why that isn't a good idea for Scriv, which I accept. I'd really like better tables and a more flexible corkboard - which I live in hope are coming with the upgrade.

I suppose the interesting transition for me has been that before I started using Scrivener I regarded the Windows folder containing a load of .doc. xls and .ppt files as the 'core' location for a project. Now my Scrivener file is the core location, and if there is still a Windows folder as well, it is a supporting depository for related stuff.

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kewms
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Fri Jul 21, 2017 11:26 pm Post

I think there are too many different use cases out there to generalize.

I once wrote a technical paper with contributions from six different people at four different companies, all of whom independently sent me Word files with their proposed changes to the draft. Some of which contradicted each other. I reconciled the different versions by accepting all the changes in Word, and importing all six revised drafts back into Scrivener.

On another project, I was combining text with very extensive tables based on a spreadsheet model in Excel. For that one, I exported all of the text from Scrivener to Word, incorporated the tables there, and did all further discussions with the editor via Word.

My most common workflow involves collecting extensive written research materials in DevonThink Pro, putting interview notes and research notes in Scrivener, and doing essentially all of the organization, drafting, and editing work in Scrivener. (With occasional detours to Scapple.) But that's a new approach, as only with the combination of iOS Scrivener and an iPad Mini did Scrivener become an appropriate tool for in-person interviews. Before that, I did a lot of notetaking on paper, and a lot of organizing on (paper) index cards.

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devinganger
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Fri Jul 21, 2017 11:31 pm Post

vi vs. emacs.
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DavidR
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Sat Jul 22, 2017 2:23 pm Post

Interesting replies, simeva and Katherine. (devinganger, I'm sorry, perhaps I live in a cave, but yours is completely opaque to me.) I probably need to learn more about some of the capabilities of Scrivener that I haven't used extensively. Another fact is that people use Scriv for all kinds of projects, from screenplays to novels to nonfiction essays to scholarship, and each of these kinds of undertakings has its own reasons for using or not using other tools.
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PropaneMilo
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Wed Jul 26, 2017 4:43 am Post

devinganger wrote:vi vs. emacs.

I wouldn't wish vi on my evil aunt!

DavidR, vi is a text editor from 1976 and... well, long story short it's the best text editor ever created and it's an actual nightmare. To truly grasp what vi is, imagine a... actually, here's a picture. Click for picture.

The main body of that text is a small program that spits out a text line "hello world" when it's run, but that's irrelevant here. Where it says ":w" on the very bottom line is the way you interact with vi. That bottom line isn't part of the text, it's the command line.

Example, to make the program say something instead of Hello World. Type "i" into the command line and press enter to begin Insert mode. You can now use the cursers to go up and down, left and right like in notepad. When you type, it's as if the Insert key is pressed. Once you've replaced the words "Hello World" with "Greetings!" you would hit Escape to exit insert mode, to reactivate the command line. The command ":w" would then write over the file with the current contents, saving your changes. You could also type ":wq: to save and then exit the vi editor, returning to dos.

It's... um... Well it's actually quite elegant given how truly ancient it is, it's just old and fussy and a nightmare and still relevant today.

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devinganger
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Wed Jul 26, 2017 6:21 am Post

And then there is emacs, the ultimately kitchen sink. Emacs proponents proudly proclaim that emacs is their operating system, with Linux as its single device driver.

I love vi. I used barely 10% of its command interface, and at that, could edit rings around my co-workers of the time.
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devinganger
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Wed Jul 26, 2017 6:24 am Post

PropaneMilo wrote:DavidR, vi is a text editor from 1976 and... well, long story short it's the best text editor ever created and it's an actual nightmare.


vi was WORLDS better than ed or <shudder> edlin from MS-DOS. More importantly, most major Unix variants had a statically-linked version of vi in /sbin so you could use it in single-user mode when /usr and all your dynamic linked libraries were offline. Anything that kept me from having to use ed.

The nightmare was trying to figure out how the hell to get out of whatever messed-up emacs mode you happened to be.
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DavidR
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Wed Jul 26, 2017 1:08 pm Post

Thanks, Devin and Milo. I've never used a Unix system (or even Linux), so I guess I've missed out. I did use edlin. Just saying the word makes me want a drink. (And I don't drink.)
David
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brookter
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Wed Jul 26, 2017 10:37 pm Post

PropaneMilo wrote:
devinganger wrote:vi vs. emacs.

I wouldn't wish vi on my evil aunt!

DavidR, vi is a text editor from 1976 and... well, long story short it's the best text editor ever created and it's an actual nightmare.


I agree with the first part: Vi (well Vim*) is wonderful. Compared to it, all other text input systems feel dumbed down and inefficient: there is nothing better for writing and editing large amounts of text as efficiently as possible.

There are a few of us of this forum who now and then beg Keith to implement a full vim clone inside Scrivener... So far he's resisted. I can't think why. :)

DavidR: Emacs and Vim work very well on Mac Sierra and it's possible to get them to work on Windows as well. You don't need Linux.

* Even better, Evil (Vim inside Emacs).

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devinganger
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Thu Jul 27, 2017 12:20 am Post

brookter wrote:* Even better, Evil (Vim inside Emacs).


You are a horrible person. It is because of people like you that this reality can't have anything nice.
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brookter
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Thu Jul 27, 2017 12:28 pm Post

devinganger wrote:
brookter wrote:* Even better, Evil (Vim inside Emacs).


You are a horrible person. It is because of people like you that this reality can't have anything nice.


Blasphemer.

Vim just needs a decent operating system. Emacs just needs a decent text editor. Evil brings them both together and makes the world a better place.

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devinganger
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Fri Jul 28, 2017 11:22 pm Post

Emacs needs sustainable nuclear fusion.
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Writemood
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Fri Oct 27, 2017 2:30 am Post

DavidR wrote:It seems to me that between me on the one end and some of the folks in that other thread there may be a difference of approach concerning tool usage. I like using several specialized tools, passing information from one to the other as needed. I don't expect one tool to meet all my needs.


Respectfully, I think you are over-simplifying and mis-stating the desire for a single, consolidated writing tool. I like using specialized tools, too. I also do not expect one tool to meet all my needs.

I don't expect Scrivener to have the greatest grammar checker, or research coordinator, or time and budget tracker, or any number of other conceivable and real supplementary packages. But, I don't think that's what folks are asking for. I'm certainly not.

But, I can easily see how and why one would want to maintain a single, core document project, with revisions from collaborators somehow brought back into the home project. Scrivener is not an everything tool. But, it is a very good structuring and writing tool. It is also very good at compiling to other formats. It is completely understandable that some folks might like to keep this single-source writing tool under one roof.

Single-sourcing makes sense in several scenarios, such as with documents that are updated regularly or frequently, and documents for which polishing and prettifying is not the end of the line. And certainly, not having to remember which app has the latest revision of a particular project, and not having to remember that the place where one does the vast majority of his or her time, in Scrivener, does not contain the latest version, makes life beautifully simple compared to the alternative.

Now, please don't misunderstand me, David. I recognize that using this single-source workflow model, many of these revision mergings may just have to be done by hand. I am not advocating that Scrivener should do them all for me magically. Of course, any tasks that Scrivener can automate in this regard will make me drop to my knees in gratitude.

So, I am not arguing that Scrivener should be a one-tool-fits-all solution for all my needs. I'm merely responding to your request for understanding why some folks might like to bring revisions back into their Scrivener projects. Thanks for asking.

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DavidR
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Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:24 pm Post

writemood, this was awhile back, and I've pretty much lost the thread. As I said on that other post that I referenced at the beginning of this thread, I don't do a lot of collaboration, and so I simply haven't encountered the need that you're discussing. Thanks for your response (I was out of town for a week).
David
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What's the difference between a free lance and a loose cannon?