Using Scrivener with Dropbox

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mary
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Thu Feb 06, 2014 3:38 am Post

An update - I do now have Scrivener 2.5 on both machines. And my work is also on both of them -but I haven't dared to try writing in Scrivener on the macbook. Here is why:

I've never been able to tell exactly where Scrivener stores its files. So perhaps I haven't dragged the right thing into Dropbox? In any case, once I got the new program working well on the iMac, I did some writing in Scrivener. When I went up and started the macbook, Dropbox did open, and my work was there - but it didn't, and doesn't, open in Scrivener on the macbook. It is saved as a series of folders, not one file, and it opens in text edit.

Obviously, I'd rather this didn't happen, and I'm not at all sure what I'm doing wrong. Does anyone have any ideas?
TIA!

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AmberV
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Thu Feb 06, 2014 5:12 am Post

I've never been able to tell exactly where Scrivener stores its files


Whenever you create a new project, you are given a choice of where to put it, and then of course after that point you can move them and make duplicates or trash them just like other files (though projects are really folders, which I’ll get to below)---this isn’t up to the software. If you are unsure of where you have left them, then there is a handy command in the File menu that will attempt to use Spotlight to locate them all. This usually works well, so long as you save projects to drives that Spotlight indexes (if you don’t use external drives for work then in most cases it will find them fine).

Another trick you can use in nearly any Mac program to find where the thing you are editing is located is to Cmd-click on the title bar for the window, up where the “traffic light” buttons are. This will show a descending path menu, any folder you click on will be opened.

When I went up and started the macbook, Dropbox did open, and my work was there - but it didn't, and doesn't, open in Scrivener on the macbook.


It sounds like Scrivener is not correctly installed on the MacBook. As I was saying above, a project is just a folder with a bunch of files in it (some organised into further folders), and yes, on a default Mac some of its files (RTF format) will open in TextEdit. So that is what you will see on any machine that does not have Scrivener installed (or on a Windows computer for that matter, since it lacks the ability to make a folder look and act like a file).

It could possibly be that Dropbox did not transfer the whole thing over correctly (for example, if a computer was shut down before it finished syncing), I would suspect the Scrivener installation first though, especially if the project folder has a “.scriv” on the end of its name. Here are some installation instructions that may be helpful.
.:.
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ma
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Fri Feb 07, 2014 2:21 am Post

Um - wow! That's interesting. I'll check this and let you know what I discover when I next use the macbook. I certainly thought I'd installed Scrivener correctly. :oops: And I have been able to open the program and type in it, and some of the shorter files have come through just fine.

Thanks for the help, in any case! I will let you know what happens. To me, the main thing is that the new version is working well on the iMac, which is my everyday machine, and that all the files are actually on both computers. That's progress. Hopefully, I'll actually be able to work on the novels on the macbook eventually!

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AmberV
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Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:02 am Post

Okay! If you've opened Scrivener on the MacBook and used it, that's a pretty good sign it is installed. ;) It could be that the larger project just hasn't fully copied. I'd be very careful about it until you know for sure. Make sure the little icon on the Dropbox status bar indicates no activity on the iMac, and then allow the MacBook to fully sync as well.
.:.
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Thu Feb 20, 2014 3:17 am Post

AmberV, I want to thank you very much for your help and patience! This is an odd situation. I think my problem may actually be the way I saved the book on the iMac. If I may, I'd like to share a few screenshots of what's happening. While my other two books show up (in various drafts) as discrete Scriv files, my current novel is a whole bunch of RTF files within a folder within another folder. I'm going to try to add links to these files so you can see what I'm talking about.

This is a children's book, and not terribly long. So I thought perhaps I could just open a new Scriv project, rename it, and paste in the book chapter by chapter, letting the program save as it would prefer to. That might solve my problem. What do you think?

Screenshot 1: https://www.dropbox.com/s/5dw15j72z7gax ... .07.41.png
Screenshot 2:https://www.dropbox.com/s/lgl9zutd27r11a7/Screenshot%202014-02-19%2022.08.17
Screenshot 3:https://www.dropbox.com/s/k93qpxrkzlvebuv/Screenshot%202014-02-19%2022.08.40.png

I hope these will come through okay and won't cause my reply to be seen as spam! thanks again.

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Thu Feb 20, 2014 3:20 am Post

I see only the first link went through. Sorry! Here is the last one, so you can see the full oddness-

https://www.dropbox.com/s/k93qpxrkzlveb ... .08.40.png

Mary

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AmberV
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Thu Feb 20, 2014 10:30 pm Post

All right, I seem to be looking at the results of the File/Sync/with External Folder menu command, not a project. This only exports elements of the Binder you designate as text files, of one format or another, so that programs other than Scrivener can be used to edit the contents of your Binder. It is designed so that edits made to these files will be detected and synced back into the project when you return home. This is not a tool for using the same project on more than one computer. There is not near enough data here to reconstruct a project out of it—it’s literally just the contents of the text window for each item in the binder that was exported this way.

What you need to do is upload the entire project to your Dropbox folder, the same way you did for the other two projects it sounds like. That way it becomes a universally available project.
.:.
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Mon Feb 24, 2014 4:06 am Post

Thanks, AmberV! As I began to suspect (and as you explained), the problem was really in how I'd saved the file on the iMac. I resaved, replacing the messed-up file with the up-to-date one, and then let Dropbox fully sync as you suggested. it's all okay now. :D

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kdbertel
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Sat Apr 05, 2014 6:14 pm Post

What is the current recommendation regarding using Scrivener with Dropbox on OS X?

Currently, I keep my .scriv file (err, bundle? I forget the term. Whatever a glorified folder is) in a folder on Dropbox. I pause Dropbox's syncing (Menu Bar -> Gear -> Pause Syncing) before opening Scrivener, and unpause the syncing after I'm done with my writing session.

This works for me, though it's a bit onerous, and kind of gets in my way, especially if I want to open Scrivener for a minute to quickly dash out another card or note or something.

I found here a way to have launching/quitting Scrivener also shutdown or start up Dropbox automatically. However, I'm not really sure I want something so drastic and heavyweight; Dropbox starting up takes a bit of time because of the amount of files I have on mine (due to needing to re-index upon start up).

Are there any thoughts or recommendations on this?

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AmberV
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Sat Apr 05, 2014 7:11 pm Post

Nothing has really fundamentally changed with the technology, since this original post here. The advice there remains sound. One can, if they wish, go further than that, using the pause button or not even putting "live" projects in Dropbox at all and just using it to store backups. I would say it's all about what you're comfortable with and how much risk you're willing to take.
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kdbertel
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Sat Apr 05, 2014 8:26 pm Post

That's pretty much what I expected, unfortunately. Thank you for the quick response, even if it was a pretty stupid question most likely.

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Tue May 06, 2014 2:21 pm Post

(I apologise if this has already been covered in this topic ) :

All this talk of losing stuff in Dropbox... I once lost everything (my own fault!) but I discovered when panic mode was subsiding, that Dropbox do archive everything you've had in the folder and keep it for 30 days after deletion, including individual files you have deliberately trashed. So, you don't lose anything with Dropbox - just download from the archive anything you want : that could be a pre-corruption Scrivener project, or anything at all.

By the way, from reading through these posts, I feel I should not have Dropbox active while working on a Scrivener project - if not, why not? I'm not sure - as a newbie - that I quite 'get' that.

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robertdguthrie
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Tue May 06, 2014 2:58 pm Post

Pausing dropbox is a way to exercise an abundance of caution that some see an insufficient and others see as overkill.

The reason you would want to pause is to avoid letting any rapid-fire saves cause conflicts.

Let's say you have a file in your project and you paste in a large amount of text (and maybe even pictures). After the paste auto-save to kicks in. With dropbox active, it will begin to upload that pasted data. Unfortunately, there's a network slowdown for some reason; maybe dropbox didn't pay your ISP for high-speed access to its customers (see: Net Neutrality issues in the US), or maybe it's just network congestion. Regardless of the cause, it's going to take a while, maybe longer than a minute, to upload the changes to your file.

You decide you didn't mean to paste the text & graphics that you did into your file, so you hit undo (CMD-Z on the mac), grab the text you really wanted and paste that into the document instead. Autosave kicks in again. Locally, there's nothing wrong, but the Dropbox program has a problem; it needs to upload the changes right now, but it's still in the process of uploading the previous set of changes. So it creates a "conflicted" copy of the file inside your project and saves your latest version there.

Scrivener has no idea about the new conflicted file that was created, and the file that it thinks has the latest changes in it actually has the older version. So now there's a conflict between what Scrivener has loaded into its editor and what is stored in the file that it thinks contains that data. Meanwhile, there's a file inside the project bundle that you can't see, and Scrivener may not ever notice.

See how that could be bad? By pausing the sync, you avoid at least this one scenario where conflicts can arise. Re-enabling the sync after you've quit scrivener means that there's plenty of time for all of your changes to be uploaded without any interference from Scrivener itself.

With all that said--I don't pause dropbox. But I don't import large documents very often, and I don't make rapid-fire decisions about changing them, and I'm always sure to let the dropbox sync finish before logging out of the computer I'm on.
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ScriverTid
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Tue May 06, 2014 4:45 pm Post

That's a helpful answer.

So, to put it in a nutshell, if I add a load of new stuff to Scrivener, I should pause Dropbox just before, then when I'm happy about what I've just pasted, unpause Dropbox? (And possibly make Scrivener's auto-save interval something fairly lengthy, e.g. like FileMaker's 5 minutes, to give Dropbox a chance to do its thing?)

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r6d2
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Tue May 06, 2014 5:30 pm Post

robertdguthrie wrote:You decide you didn't mean to paste the text & graphics that you did into your file, so you hit undo (CMD-Z on the mac), grab the text you really wanted and paste that into the document instead. Autosave kicks in again. Locally, there's nothing wrong, but the Dropbox program has a problem; it needs to upload the changes right now, but it's still in the process of uploading the previous set of changes. So it creates a "conflicted" copy of the file inside your project and saves your latest version there.

Robert, have you ever experienced such a thing? And are you able to replicate it at will?

AFAIK Dropbox is clever enough to manage a change queue and do the things in the correct order to avoid this...
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