"A whole way of doing things..."

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talazem
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Fri Feb 02, 2007 8:47 pm Post

Maria et al.,

Alexandria has mentioned here or elsewhere that she's abandoning the word processor.

My own type of academic work probably means that I will never have that luxury. I need all the tools, and sometimes even more than any of them currently offer (thus my on-again, off-again flirting with LaTeX).

I like Structure to be separate from Content. Form vs. Content. Lafz vs Ma'na (ok, sorry, but working with classical Arab philosphers all day).

So: how do those who are trying to emigrate totally to Scrivener as the be-all-end-all hope to publish their papers with other tools, such as Mellel, in order to avail one's-self of the best of the writing bliss of Scrivener, with the tools of Mellel?

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linn
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Wed Feb 07, 2007 5:41 pm Post

Lord Lightening and Alexandria,

Many thanks for your ideas! I apologize for not acknowledging earlier--still getting the hang of forums as manners. Also, I was so inspired that I went directly off to Scrivener to try some of these notions. Here are some of the results.

LL, the advice to understand really well the Binder and Draft folder was helpful. It's far richer than I initially realized, and I'm still working through the "really well" aspect. Also, the screen capture idea was helpful. I LOVE Keith's Scrivener home page because it's so informative. That's what I show to people when I want to explain what makes Scrivener so exciting.
alexwein wrote:So when I say 'almost everything,' that's pretty accurate. When not working on the dissertation, (which I started in Mellel before finding Scr. and which will be completed by the end of this month, btw) I'm in Scr. about 90+% of the time doing something!


Alexandria, your description helped me to see a whole new way of doing things in Scrivener. Like almost everyone else, I've a file with a book manuscript simmering. However, if you find that writing is a form of thinking (which I do), then Scrivener should be applicable to other jobs in addition to writing The Book. I liked the way that you put most of your work in such a few files, which I think is the crucial trick.

I came up with five Scrivener files: The Book, Teaching, Read & Review, Nascent, Tutorial. I'll describe Teaching and R&R here in more detail--they may be useful to others, including people who've written on these topics and can point me to those.

Teaching. I made one file for all my teaching. This semester,
teaching is complicated because I have two courses in two different institutions, starting at different times of the semester, to two different populations (polytechnic and liberal arts). Aside: yes, I did this of my own free will. My classes are small, always experimental, highly individualized, tailored to students interests and place a burden on memory and flexibility. In short, canning the whole thing in Blackboard would never work.

One Scriverner file simplifies everything. In The Draft part of the Binder, I changed all defaults to not export automatically. There is a section for Handouts and one for Class Notes (my todos, plans, and feedback of the day). When I make a handout, usually before the class. I turn the exporting feature on, and send it to the printer. The only problem here is that I'm used to using tables for layout, and although I've made a template in Word and imported it, the table is unpredictable (i.e., I haven't figured out why it's doing what it's doing). I can live without tables, though.

The research folder has folders for the two courses, and within courses, background research and student readings. I also have an ADMIN section for those odds and ends that teaching accumulates, boiler plate that goes into all syllabi, and notes from the school administration, etc.

I can make great use of the internal Scrivener links to change the particular class plans and handouts for the day. Since the courses at the poly started first (and the syllabi for the two schools are about the same--but do change as we need), I have the feedback if what worked and what didn't from that course and can review it as I revise the day for the liberal arts version of the courses. In the Fall, I'll have a new grad course to teach and an ever changing Intro course. I have research folders for both of those and drop in items there. I expect those to grow organically, and I like to have them in front of me.

The teaching file is more complicated and challenging than The Book file, but it also challenges me to learn more of the ins and outs of Scrivener.

And speaking of dissertations. I've made a Read and Review Scrivener file. Oh, how I love this! My Ph.D. students send me bits and pieces of their current work, dissertation tidbits, methodological descriptions and whatnot. Each student has his and her own folder in Research and in the Draft section is my reply. This Scrivener file also has all the journal articles, grant proposals and other stuff two which I've agreed to read and write a review. Previously, these have been difficult for me--I hate setting aside huge clumps of time, but my too brief notes in the margins (or too long in the comments section of a Word doc) made it hard to review and comment in small chunks. That's changed now. For all the Read and Review material, I put the material to be read in one pane (vertical if I'm on the monitor; horizontal on the PowerBook G4 screen) and the review I'm writing in the other. More or less fully formed comments are written in the review pane. Short annotations or notes to myself to check back and note where I stopped reviewing go into the article that I'm reviewing in the other pane. (Secured pdfs are a problem, but they're rare in my business.). I can do the reviews in much smaller chunks, which means that I get them out faster.

The last main file is a bit unstable in its usage now, and would correspond to your nascent ideas/shorter works file, Alexandria. Part of the problem is that I have such works scattered all over my computer in small word documents. Worse, some are in other apps, where I've started keeping a journal and an entry actually starts taking shape as the section of an article or something like one, but is too little to make a Word document, and either way, gets lost on my computer until I stumble over it. My own professional writing has always gone into a Word directory with associated articles, notes, and numerous versions of the article. This is clumsy beyond belief, and the way the directory is used changes over time.

I've yet to start an article "from scratch" in Scrivener, and suspect that's what I need to do to get out of the well-worn, but despised groove of the PC coping style adopted years ago. What seemed to happen with my last article is that it started flowing so well in Scrivener, that I switched to Word, where it flowed, chugged, and then bogged down. I squeezed it out in the end, but it was ugly and not fun. Also, I don't have the good work habits that would have me sit down and review my four main Scrivener files at once. Probably should change the habit (write now, I dive into the most overdue task that causes panic).

I've used DTPro for a while, mostly like you, as a warehouse with instant display of the contents of documents from various applications. Conceptually, it's still unwieldy to me; I like the idea of making two DTPro files with one having the material relevant to current projects and the other having everything else. However, I do wonder if pulling a doc out of DTP to wherever I might need it doesn't eventually wind up with multiple copies of the document (which may not matter so much as there is still quite a bit of disk space left).

I've used Yojimbo for odds and ends as well as journal entries, but it hasn't worked that well for the latter. I did look at MacJournal, and a free program called Journler started showing up, so I downloaded this to play with. I also found a method for implementing GTD in it. (To find it, google "gtd journler" and you should see ok scarfone blog on the first page.) I've always liked GTD in theory, but it seems more suited for a different type of work tempo than mine as an academic. However, Amy Scarfone laid out this implentation very well using smart folders. As a new person to Mac, I've never understood these (nor Spotlight) and their strange implentations of searching. Amy's implentation is a nice teaching device for those of us who like to see illustrations of the abstractions.

My last Scriver file is the Tutorial 1.0. In addition to the tutorial, I have a section of Forum Gleanings, where I copy all of the precious information and tips that I find here and in the FAQs, which is useful because of its discursive nature.

One of the surprising things that I've found is that I can have several apps and quite a few windows open, and I'm not using the level of system resources that Word uses.

One point of clarification, Alexandria.
alexwein wrote:At some point I may run into db size issues, but so far, it's working well. Primarly because I don't keep too much in it in the way of media or pdf files. I house all of those in the Finder (media in iTunes, pdfs in a central folder called "Digital Editions"). That way I can alias them where I need them--DT Pro for warehousing, Scr. files for project development. The one thing I do tend to keep in Scr. that adds to size are web archives. I do a lot of Net research and it either goes to DT Pro (as my central info warehouse) and then to Scr. or straight to Scr.


Do I read you correctly when you say that you don't keep much of your media or pdf files in Scrivener? I don't understand this part. Do you put alias to your DTPro files or to Finder files in your Scrivener root Research document or on the References pane where urls are inserted? (This would be a place where screen captures might be helpful.)

Again, Alexandria (and others in this forum), thanks for many helpful ideas and suggestions. What a pleasure to be the beneficiary of other people's diversions!

L

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alexwein
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Thu Feb 08, 2007 2:47 pm Post

Hi Linn,

Thanks for sharing how you are using Scr.! As you point out, it's really ver helpful to see how other folks are managing their work. The way you are working with your Teaching db is really similar to the way I use Scr. for my training program (the one I'm taking, not teaching). I also have a relatively empty (soon to be full, I hope!) db called 'Class Ideas,' since I plan to develop some possible courses to teach. It sounds like you keep yourself challenged and keep things interesting in that regard!

I agree about DtPro being unweildly. I do keep checking out other information managers, but so far, none of them can beat out DT. I think you are right about duplicating documents, and you have to watch exporting from DT because it will export something replicated or indexed as if it was stored in Dt. I exported a huge folder full of stuff and ended up with full copies of pdfs and media files I had only indexed, as well as duplicate copies of files that were replicated.

I too tried Journler--I mentioned this already. I found it too glitchy at the time and I kept having weird stuff happen. I'm sure it's much better these days since that was a while back. But I am used to MacJournal and really love using it for keeping my journal, though lately I'm wondering about that too. Some of what starts off as journeling turns into or is fodder for actual writing pieces, so I'm considering whether I might want to change this. For now, it works!

As to your question, no, I don't keep pdfs or media files directly in Scr. or in DT for that matter. I keep them in folders on the Finder. I have always stored my media files in iTunes, so that keeps them centralized and organized and also makes them universally accessible to alias wherever needed. But I had most of my work-related pdfs directly in DT. I changed this when I started using Scr, realizing that I needed this kind of research material to be accessible to different programs or Scr. files.

So I house all media files (audio and video) in iTunes, where I can access the files through the Finder, and all my pdfs go into one master Finder folder called "Digital Editions" (arranged with subfolders). I index anything that is relevant to research of any sort in Dt for searching, and I use the References pane in Scrivener to alias these files there. I'm not sure it is even possible to alias/index something in Scr. directly in the root Research folder. It wasn't when this was all discussed back in July.

To help clarify further, I'm copying something Keith suggested way back when we were discussing this issue:

"The binder will not support alias files, but there will be two ways of doing exactly what you want:

1) You can drag any media file from the Finder and drop it on a document header view in Scrivener. This will open the media file within Scrivener for viewing without importing it.

2) Each document now holds a "references" list. This list can hold internal references (that is, to documents stored within Scrivener) and external ones (to files on disk). So you can hold aliases within Scrivener that way. If you would prefer not to associate an external file with only one document, you could always create a document specifically for holding such references and give it an appropriate name (eg. "Knitting links"), of course."

So you don't really even need to house this information in Scr. at all--you can keep it in the Finder and still view it in Scr. I myself follow Keith's second suggestion--I associate pdfs or media files with a Scr. file via the References pane. I usually have one file with one reference or several related references, which allows me to split the view, transcribe audio/video files, make notes, whatever, on the material. You could, however, create one master file and have all your reference links there for easy access.

Does this help clarify? I find this the best way to work, since it (1) keeps my Scr. files much leaner and not bogged down with sometimes huge media files and (2) allows me the most flexibility, since one pdf or media file may be useful for several different projects, and/or I may want to index them in Dt (or be accessible to other programs, such as MacJournal at times). This way I have one place where the file is actually stored, while at the same time I can use it anywhere it's needed.

Yes, this forum is wonderful. I have found it to be so from the very first time I discovered Scr. I believe the forum reflects Scr.'s developer, who I find to be very, very bright, someone who doesn't take himself too seriously, very generous, very direct, and always responsive. There are some seriously wonderful, helpful and interesting folk here!

Alexandria
Inspiration is for amateurs...the rest of us just show up.
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linn
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Thu Feb 08, 2007 5:32 pm Post

Hello, Alexandria,
Teaching has always been a challenging experience for me. I had a generous fellowship through grad school, and when I found the regents had printed on my diploma, "go forth and teach!" I was stunned and clueless. I spent many years copying my professors. When my institution made some creative adjustments in the teaching schedule (all courses became 2x2 --meet twice a week for two hours per class meeting), I knew that lecturing for two hours straight would be painful for all concerned. I read a lot on active learning, and now use that model for all my undergrad classes. It's more fun and they have produced some extraordinary work. (Admittedly, however, my classes are never more than 25 students--quite a luxury.)

I wonder if you would mind elaborating a bit more about getting information to show up in a Scrivener editor without actually importing it.
alexwein wrote:So you don't really even need to house this information in Scr. at all--you can keep it in the Finder and still view it in Scr. I myself follow Keith's second suggestion--I associate pdfs or media files with a Scr. file via the References pane. I usually have one file with one reference or several related references, which allows me to split the view, transcribe audio/video files, make notes, whatever, on the material. You could, however, create one master file and have all your reference links there for easy access.

I dragged a word file to the header view of an empty document (both with and without the focus). I expected the file to open in the Scrivener editor pane as an rtf, with the file's name replacing "untitled" in the header view. However, the file didn't stick. I release the mouse in the editor pane and get the location of the file on the hard disk. That will open the file in Word.

I also dragged the file to the references pane. Clicking the file opened the file in Word, but not in Scrivener. As I expected, dragging the file to the Binder caused an rtf file to appear in the editor, however, as I understand it, this imports the file into Scrivener rather than acting as an alias.

To make things even more confusing, I tried this with a pdf file. I was able to drag a file to the header, the filename appeared, and the file opened in the editor as expected. Itried another file. It opened as expected, however, its file name didn't appear in the header. I quit Scrivener and then reopened, expecting that both files would be gone. The first file was, however, the second file still appeared with the header view giving the file name as "untitled."

Is there a setting, perhaps in Preferences or elsewhere that I need to make? Am I doing something wrong? Is it possible that Word files cannot be dragged to the header, but that pdf and other types of files can be?

Sorry to burden you with these questions. I like your approach to keeping Scrivener lean and fast and want to emulate it.

Best, L

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alexwein
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Thu Feb 08, 2007 6:15 pm Post

Hi Linn,

It is no burden at all! The questions and interactions benefit all of us, I think.

Here's what I came up with:

When I drag a pdf from the Finder or from the reference pane, it loads as expected and the header shows the path (where the file is located) with the file name at the end, also as expected. I get this consistently with any pdf or supported media file.

Word files are another matter entirely. That's a can of worms there, since Word uses a proprietary format and, while Word can read rtf files and can export or save as rtf, it requires this secondary step to make them readable to programs like TextEdit and the like. Scrivener would be included, since it uses the same Apple core technology as TextEdit (I may not be saying this correctly, since I have only a rudimentary understanding of the development end of things).

But I do know that Word docs are notoriously problematic for programs like Scr. and DT. On the DT forum you will see many questions about this issue, since Word is so prevalent and yet so hard to work with. Same with the Mellel forum and trying to get Mellel to import/export Word-ready documents. The solution there is to save a Word doc as rtf then open it in Mellel. It will be the same in Scr. or DT for that matter. In Scr., you can reference a Word doc in the References pane, but you'll still have to open it in Word, or convert it first to rtf to work with it directly in Scr.

More knowledgeable folks can explain this more fully, and maybe offer better solutions, but the short answer to your question is you are not doing anything wrong and that, from what I know, you cannot drag Word files or any non-suppoted file types to the header and have them open within Scr. as you can with pdfs or other supported file types.

Re teaching: I too had a generous fellowship, one that didn't require teaching at all. But at Princeton they do let grad students act as preceptors, which is different than assistant teaching at most universities. I led discussion groups, graded papers, interacted directly with students, etc.--but no lectures, so I have limited experience developing that aspect of a course (a pretty huge aspect!!). Precepts also broke large lecture classes into very small groups, so I never had to deal with anything larger than 12 to 15 students at a time. So whatever classes I do teach will still come with a high learning curve!

I hope this helps, and I hope someone else can help clarify the Word issue. Word is definitely a major pain when it comes to playing nicely with other programs!

Alexandria
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linn
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Sat Feb 10, 2007 4:49 pm Post

Alexandria,
Thanks much! I did some playing around and found that rtf and pdf files work just as described in the header view and the Reference pane. And that Word docs are a real Pain. So I am on to more learning by trial. Let us know when you hand in that dissertation. hmmm....maybe you could video stream the defence. (Just joking! :wink:)

L

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KB
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Sat Feb 10, 2007 4:53 pm Post

Just to clear one thing up: only supported media files can be dragged into the header for viewing (webarchives, pdf files, QuickTime files and images). Word documents cannot be viewed in this way, as you would expect them to be editable, but not all of Word's features are supported by the standard OS X text system (which Scrivener uses) which means you could lose certain document attributes without ever realising if this was possible. Instead, you have to import Word documents into the binder to view them - which internally converts them into RTFD files.
Best,
Keith

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alexwein
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Sat Feb 10, 2007 5:26 pm Post

linn wrote:Alexandria,
Thanks much! I did some playing around and found that rtf and pdf files work just as described in the header view and the Reference pane. And that Word docs are a real Pain. So I am on to more learning by trial. Let us know when you hand in that dissertation. hmmm....maybe you could video stream the defence. (Just joking! :wink:)

L


Ha, yes, I doubt my defence will be interesting enough to watch! :) I have been sick all week with the flu, so I'll have my hands full once better to get this done by the end of Feb. But I really have to, since I've already missed a couple of deadlines and I've put it out there for my readers that I'll have it in this month.

Keith, thanks for the clarification!
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jbarnica
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Thu Feb 22, 2007 8:42 pm Post

Alexandria, Linn, everyone,

Thanks for the thoughtful comments in this thread and elsewhere. I have just purchased Scrivener and am, like the rest, trying to migrate my various scribblings in disparate applications to Scrivener and re-think my work-flow. This discussion has really helped.

I do have one question for Alexandria, though. Have you considered transferring your journal writing to Scrivener, and, if so, what are your thoughts?

Thanks again,
Jay

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alexwein
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Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:27 am Post

jbarnica wrote:Thanks for the thoughtful comments in this thread and elsewhere. I have just purchased Scrivener and am, like the rest, trying to migrate my various scribblings in disparate applications to Scrivener and re-think my work-flow. This discussion has really helped.

I do have one question for Alexandria, though. Have you considered transferring your journal writing to Scrivener, and, if so, what are your thoughts?

Thanks again,
Jay


Glad it helped! My own system always evolves, but so far, it's working well.

Yes, I have considered transferring my personal journal writing to Scrivener, mostly because on occasion my journal writing turns into fodder for writing projects. I do love MacJournal and am quite comfortable using it. And I can always transfer files or ideas easily to Scrivener if needed. Plus it has features no other programs I use have, like being able to embed media or audio files and have them playable right in the file. And the ability to record voice or audio directly into the program (not unique to MJ, but not a feature Scr. offers). There are times this comes in handy for me.

BUT, I'm most definitely planning to experiment a bit with Scr. The now infamous (and beloved) Scratch Pad would serve nicely as something I can store in the dock and activate quickly via the dock when I want to jot journal type thoughts in it.

I'm not sure I need the extra power Scr. offers, however, such as the notes pane, etc. I do like the idea of a really simple interface with just the features I need for journalling, and I do get this in MacJournal. Also of having my personal stuff being separate from my work stuff feels right to me.

If you yourself experiment with this, I'd be interested to know how it goes for you!

Alexandria
Inspiration is for amateurs...the rest of us just show up.
-Chuck Close
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Sun Feb 25, 2007 9:41 am Post

I'm actually contemplating dropping DevonNote, an app that's been extremely useful to me for three years, and just putting all my info in Scriv. I know Devon products are wonderful for users who have to manage a lot of info, but for my needs, I think Scrivener and Spotlight may be enough. So I'm migrating all my in-progress files over to Scrivener and will henceforth use it exclusively for clipping info, unless I find that Devon gives me something I need that Scrivener doesn't. I may even try this with my book, when I get back to it. I know this community teems with Devon-tees, so if anyone wants to warn me away from my apostasy, please do so soon. I'll report back here if I change my mind; maybe I'm overlooking something.

It's hard to believe that the two apps that really boosted my productivity three years ago, Devon and OmniOutliner, have been superseded by Scrivener. I still recommend them to anyone, but for me, Scrivener may be enough now.

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Sun Feb 25, 2007 1:11 pm Post

I am with you on that one, brett. I moved my Devenotations over to SCR about 6 months ago and have not looked back. The proprietary nature of Devonote files always bothered me and you cannot beat the SCR interface, and the fact that you can have multiple databases where DN allows only one. For the sorts of things that I relied on DN for (er....taking notes on random topics for later use), SCR works just fine and has some nicer features, not to mention a responsive and excellent developer.

Because DN uses only one database, Creating new clippings via Services is a simpler task in DN than in SCR (where it is necessary to have your document open to add a clipping to it). If you have SCR Preferences set to 'Reopen recent projects on program launch', then a clipping will be appended to a recently opened file (sometimes). This clipping behaqviour is actually somewhat erratic so probably worth discussing in more detail separately. For those reasons, though, I still use DN via Services, then transfer the files to the appropriate SCR file.

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Sun Feb 25, 2007 2:31 pm Post

Like other recent converts to Scriv, I was an early adopter of DT products and expect to stay with them. They are responsive as developers, but as their customer base grows, that becomes more difficult. A saint named Bill DeVille handles most user queries, often at great length and with good humor, but he's greatly overworked.

I have mixed feelings about DTP Office. Yes, it archives e-mail, which is useful, but I'm not running a scanner to digitize paper files, so that part is overkill for me. Lately the DT forum is nearly all queries about scanner glitches; gone are the lively discussions of writing and research, so I come to L&L for that fodder (fans of Deadwood notwithstanding). :wink:

I still use DevonNote to gather research files, and I prefer to keep that material separate from Scriv writing, just out of an old eggs-in-many-baskets mentality. I would happily abandon Word but for one feature, the Outline View, which lets me crunch long files into a single screen. If Scriv could import those files, and let me view them as outlines, I'd be a total convert.