Using Scrivener with Dropbox

pi
pip
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Thu Dec 15, 2016 8:58 am Post

I experimented a little and successfully got a Scrivener project to sync between my MacBook and my iPhone using Dropbox. The project lives in:
/Users/pip/Dropbox/Apps/Scrivener/novella-notes.scriv

I'm not sure if I'll actually do much writing on my iPhone, but since it works, I thought I could sync other projects with Dropbox. The best reason for me is that it would be nice to use my iMac's big screen when I want to, and to use the MacBook when I'm out and about.

I did read the caveats about Dropbox syncing, which as I understand them mainly comprise of:

1. Never open the same project on more than one computer at a time. (OK, I have no problems with that!)

2. Make sure Dropbox has fully synced the project before you start. Question: couldn't this be difficult to ascertain if you have a lot of Dropbox syncing going on all the time? How could one ever be sure that Dropbox has fully synced?

3. Let Dropbox finish syncing the project before sleeping or shutting down. Again, how could one ever be sure of this?

4. Back up locally to each machine. This I can do.

Another question: Should my other projects to be synced by Dropbox also go in the Dropbox "Apps" folder as well (like the iPhone-syncing "novella-notes" one above)? Or is that only necessary if you want to edit them in your iPhone? I guess they can actually live anywhere in the Dropbox folder?

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AmberV
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Thu Dec 15, 2016 9:37 am Post

…couldn’t this be difficult to ascertain if you have a lot of Dropbox syncing going on all the time? How could one ever be sure that Dropbox has fully synced?

That could be a problem, if indeed Dropbox is constantly churning given your workflow. You might place trust in the little checkboxes it draws beside files in Finder (if you don’t have that feature turned on it is a system Extension). If the project has a green checkmark beside it, in theory it is good to go even if there is still networking activity going on in other folders.

I would be cautious with that approach. I have seen those indicators give incorrect information before, but I’m not a user of Dropbox aside from a little shared folder stuff. So I’m no expert and my concerns may be dated to earlier and buggier iterations of their Extension that encountered during iOS sync testing.

Should my other projects to be synced by Dropbox also go in the Dropbox “Apps” folder as well (like the iPhone-syncing “novella-notes” one above)? Or is that only necessary if you want to edit them in your iPhone? I guess they can actually live anywhere in the Dropbox folder?

In fact disregard most of the instructions relating to iOS <=> macOS/Win syncing. When it comes to working between two or more Macs there is no sync code, no designated folders, no merging of changes—you are strictly using the underlying technology and capabilities afforded by the basic technology. In essence: little more complicated than a folder full of .docx files, where MS Word has no clue that you’re even using Dropbox to maintain the same set of files between multiple systems.
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rdale
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Thu Dec 15, 2016 3:18 pm Post

AmberV wrote:…couldn’t this be difficult to ascertain if you have a lot of Dropbox syncing going on all the time? How could one ever be sure that Dropbox has fully synced?

That could be a problem, if indeed Dropbox is constantly churning given your workflow.


Do you need all that file activity on the computer you're using with Scrivener? If not, consider Dropbox's selective sync feature to isolate one or two locations where Scrivener projects reside from those other files. Otherwise, your only recourse is to leave your computer running for a long period after you close a Scrivener project before moving on to another computer or device, in hopes that all the activity happening in that time includes your project files.
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pi
pip
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Thu Dec 15, 2016 3:23 pm Post

But if I excluded the Scrivener project from Dropbox's selective sync, how would I work on it ???! Or, do you mean exclude everything else? That wouldn't work for me.

I'm coming to think that Dropbox syncing is inherently problematic.

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rdale
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Thu Dec 15, 2016 4:15 pm Post

pip wrote:But if I excluded the Scrivener project from Dropbox's selective sync, how would I work on it ???! Or, do you mean exclude everything else? That wouldn't work for me.

I'm coming to think that Dropbox syncing is inherently problematic.

Yeah, I meant isolating the locations of Scrivener projects so that you could sync them, excluding other frequently synced files/folders, but just on one of your computers-the one you're writing on. But if you need that data on that computer, or generating that data from it, then that's not going to work well for you.

Would moving to another sync service for your high-traffic syncing needs work, so that your Dropbox data is less volatile?
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kewms
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Thu Dec 15, 2016 5:13 pm Post

pip wrote:2. Make sure Dropbox has fully synced the project before you start. Question: couldn't this be difficult to ascertain if you have a lot of Dropbox syncing going on all the time? How could one ever be sure that Dropbox has fully synced?

3. Let Dropbox finish syncing the project before sleeping or shutting down. Again, how could one ever be sure of this?


Why is Dropbox syncing all the time? If you're uploading a big project for the first time, that might take a little while, but once you've done that Scrivener will only save (and Dropbox only upload) things that have actually changed. And similarly for other programs on your system: they shouldn't have anything to save if they aren't active.

Now, if you're running some kind of automatic backup to Dropbox, *that* might create a lot of activity. IMO, that's not really a good use of Dropbox because it's too easy to change (obliterate) files accidentally. You might consider something like CrashPlan for that application instead.

With regard to Scrivener specifically, Dropbox will show you the files that it is currently/recently syncing. If you've shut Scrivener down and Dropbox reports that it is syncing something other than Scrivener files, then you're probably safe. But this is one more reason to keep a local backup, just in case.

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Le
Let's Remember
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Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:07 am Post

Hi. I'm a Scrivener user since 2010, but new to this forum. I haven't checked through many of the previous posts to this Dropbox topic, but has iCloud been discussed previously? Is this an alternative to Dropbox? I want to work across two Macs.

Le
Let's Remember
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Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:12 am Post

OK, so a simple Search would have give me the answer! From what others have written, it appears iCloud is NOT to be trusted. Unless anyone has an update on this.

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kewms
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Thu Jan 12, 2017 6:56 am Post

Let's Remember wrote:OK, so a simple Search would have give me the answer! From what others have written, it appears iCloud is NOT to be trusted. Unless anyone has an update on this.


Nope, no changes. We do not recommend iCloud for live Scrivener projects.

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SallyR
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Mon Jan 23, 2017 4:28 pm Post

I just installed Scrivener for iOS this weekend (already owned Scrivener for Mac) and tried to set it up so that I can work on project files either on my iMac or iPad - syncing through Dropbox.

After reading through the tutorial and help info, I moved two project files to the Dropbox > Apps folder. That allowed me to see and open the files on my iPad, but now I am unable to open those files on my iMac. I get errors saying "The document "Title" could not be opened...

Now on my iMac, the Dropbox App folder only shows a file called "scrivener.scriv" - more error messages when I try to open that and see what is there. "One or more of the files could not be found inside the project package. Try restoring from a backup or create a new project,...."

The files are still visible on my iPad.

Anyway, much of the advice here is over my less-than-tech-savvy head, and I'm unsure what to do next. Since these were two newly created projects and I've got little to lose, I'm tempted to just blow everything up by uninstalling/reinstalling Scrivener for iOS and deleting the apps folder in Dropbox so that I can start over (seems like it might be faster than continuing to lose my day to a carousel of neverending error message).

Wondering if there's a "for dummies" style Dropbox setup tutorial...or some method for getting this setup and working that I might be able to do correctly since I have no idea how I managed to go so wrong.

Any advice is appreciated. I really want to figure out how to do this right, otherwise I'll be too nervous to put my faith in the fact that I won't lose work when switching devices.

Thanks~

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Silverdragon
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Mon Jan 23, 2017 5:07 pm Post

Yes, there is a tutorial. Try this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVP_Ad7AfU8

SEEING things happening instead of depending on text descriptions can really help.

One thing to do is to make sure you have the very latest version of Scrivener for Mac: 2.8.1.2. Versions of Scrivener earlier than 2.8 won't work with the iOS version at all. Another thing to do (shown on the video) is to be sure that you have the Dropbox app installed on your Mac. Transferring files through the Dropbox website won't work.

Finally, once you have the right setup, many problems are cured by a combination of patience and persistence. Re-sync from the iOS side. Be sure your Mac has finished downloading. When you make changes on the Mac, be sure your files have finished uploading before going to iOS. Even with the Internet, file transfers are not instant, and an unfinished transfer may do many . . . unfortunate things.

That said, I've been using it since it was released, and it works smoothly.

Hope this helps!
So you know where I'm coming from:
• I'm a user, not an L&L employee.
• Mac Scrivener 2.9 & 3.0.0, MacBook Air 11, MacOS 10.12.6 (Sierra)
• iOS Scrivener 1.1.5, iPhone 6s, iPad Air 2, iOS 11.2

Sa
SallyR
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Mon Jan 23, 2017 5:48 pm Post

Thanks Silverdragon - your links and tips are very much appreciated!

I will start with the video and will pay close attention to making sure files finish downloading - maybe I missed something there. I do have the Dropbox app installed on my Mac, so at least I've got that step accomplished :D My Scrivener says I'm on version 2.8, but I'll check for an update to the latest and greatest version.

Off to tackle this...thanks again!!

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lunk
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Mon Jan 23, 2017 6:05 pm Post

Have you installed the latest version of Scrivener on yout iMac. If not, it won't work. From your description it sounds as if you have an older version.

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kewms
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Mon Jan 23, 2017 6:13 pm Post

There's a detailed setup guide here:
http://scrivener.tenderapp.com/help/kb/ ... g-with-ios

From your description, it sounds like you might want to add a level in the Dropbox file structure. By default, iOS will look for Dropbox/Apps/Scrivener/projectname.scriv so having Dropbox/Apps/projectname.scriv has probably caused some confusion.

Also, make sure everything has synchronized from the iMac to Dropbox before you even try to download to iOS. That's probably the most common new user issue: people are excited to get started, so they don't give Dropbox enough time to actually transfer their data.

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Bhoritz
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Thu Mar 09, 2017 10:10 pm Post

I just bought and installed Scrivener on my iPad and on my Mac this week-end (so up to date versions, both).
I did made a project on the iPad, saved it in the default folder in Dropbox. Tried to share it with the Mac (import, find the file in Dropbox) and...
It doesn't work, just a message about possibly older version of Scrivener (no, they are the last available); or corrupted files (no, it opens without problem on te iPad).
Scrivener being new for me, I just thought I was making something wrong, so I came to this forum. And did read this conversation. I cant say that I understand all that is discussed here, but it seems that there is a real problem with Dropbox syncing, not a simple error from me.

So my question is: "is Scrivener usable on my Mac and iPad or can I put both in the trash?"