Scrivener as a collaborative writing tool

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JohnCLeBlanc
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Mon Oct 09, 2017 2:24 pm Post

Hi,
I'm exploring Scrivener as an alternate to Word for writing scientific papers; I love the way I can tie reearch excerpts that I might (or might no) bring into my paper. One aspect that worries me though is collaborative writing, e.g., sharing manuscript writing among many authors. Microsoft Word has nice tools such as tracked changes and compare documents. Also, it is so widespread that almost all academics use it.

If I switch to Scrivener as my main writing tool, how will I share the document with non-Scrivener users? E.g., export to Word, RTF, PDF, plain text?

If I have another Scrivener collaborator, will they be able to edit the same Scrivener document and will their edits be distinguishable from mine, e.g., through tracked changes or labelled comments?

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nontroppo
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Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:21 pm Post

Also a scientist who writes exclusively in Scrivener, including collaborative projects. And yes, collaboration is the major weakness of Scrivener. The best way to deal with this is to accept some manual integration will be needed. I write in Scrivener, and use a Scrivener>Pandoc>Word workflow to generate my Word files (with track changes enabled). One important point for me is that I create a properly outlined and consistently structured document that I ask collaborators to follow (gently trying to get them to use styles where possible). When I compile I often also make a named snapshot (snapshots are a core Scrivener feature dealing with managing writing changes). Collaborators make changes and I use a PDF version of the visualised changed reimported into binder to edit the text using a split editor from the collaborator's version. This is more manual than track changes, but for me it is still worth the time, than to just give up and write in Word. I will use compare documents if two versions both diverge, again easiest if you compile the original document.

For Scrivener <-> Scrivener collaboration, I use named snapshots and comment colour exclusively...

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JohnCLeBlanc
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Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:57 pm Post

Very helpful advice; your workflow thoughts will definitely help me make a decision.
John LeBlanc

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xiamenese
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Tue Oct 10, 2017 8:06 am Post

I’m not a scientist, but I’ve been using Scrivener for collaborative Chinese–English translation for a number of years, cross-platform as my friend and collaborator is a Windows user.

The projects are currently in the cloud using Sync, as being in China she can’t use Dropbox, but, given the 7/8 hours time difference with the UK, we don’t have much problem about being unable to work on it at the same time.

Named snapshots are to me an essential feature; she doesn’t remember, so I take one of each document or folder before I start work on it, and when I finish. Given the nature of what we are doing her responses to my work generally take the form of comments or answers to questions I’ve posed in comments.

So, we don’t have the same collaborative issues as Ian does or you might.

I’ve not yet had to work with an editor using Word, but if/when I have to, I too would import their response as a pdf and use a split editor to compare.

A couple more things before the advent of Scrivener 3:

1) the current Windows version doesn’t have “Revision Mode”. So while on the Mac you can choose one of the colours for your revisions and the Windows user will see it, to do the same on Windows, the user would have to change the colour of each revised stretch of text individually, or they will simply be in the default text colour;

2) Scrivener works best when the text is split up into small documents in the binder—Scrivenings Mode is there to display them as continuous text when needed—but, having been reading these forums for many years, people who have migrated from Word seem to still want to work in a long, continuous text, which defeats one of the prime design features and reasons for moving over to Scrivener.

HTH

Mark
The Scrivenerato sometimes known as Mr X.
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JohnCLeBlanc
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Wed Oct 18, 2017 3:22 pm Post

Two very helpful observations, esp. the tendency to work with long flows of text. I'll keep that in mind as I use it.

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stigand
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Fri Dec 08, 2017 5:46 pm Post

I am very happy to see that I am not the only one with this issue. I am currently using ShareLaTeX for my collaborative projects, but I would love to migrate to Scrivener. A fully functional, real-time collaborative Scrivener would be a dream come true. (Could it be done using the Google Wave protocol?)

Anyway, have any of you tried using Draft as part of your collaborative process? If so, what are you experiences?
Stig Andersen
Oslo, Norway

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JohnCLeBlanc
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Fri Dec 08, 2017 6:01 pm Post

No experience with DRAFT but I'll check it out. I take it this is it? https://draftin.com/

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JohnCLeBlanc
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Fri Dec 08, 2017 6:05 pm Post

Draft looks interesting but how is it different from dealing with and merging tracked changes in Word? That has worked well for me.