Aeon Timeline: Scrivener Sync Alpha Available

ma
matt
Posts: 1180
Joined: Mon Jul 30, 2007 9:35 am

Tue Jul 19, 2011 2:25 pm Post

I have just uploaded a new release of Aeon Timeline. It contains several bug fixes, plus the addition of a text readout when dragging events, but by far the most important new addition is the synchronization with Scrivener.

The synchronization system is designed to do the following:
  • Allow you to export Events from Aeon Timeline directly into your Scrivener projects as new Documents (these get dropped in a special folder called 'Aeon Timeline Exported Documents' or something equally long-winded).
  • Allow you to import Documents from Scrivener to become new events in Aeon Timeline.
  • Allows you to link events within Aeon Timeline to document in Scrivener.
  • Adds meta-data to Scrivener projects that display the linked events and the dates the events occur.
  • If you modify a date in Scrivener and then synchronize, it will update the date in Aeon Timeline also.
  • If you modify a date in Aeon Timeline, it will update the date in Scrivener also.
  • Each time you synchronize the files, Aeon defaults to present you with options only for what has changed.
  • The system is designed so that the one Aeon Timeline file can sync with multiple Scrivener projects.
  • However, each Scrivener project can be synced with just one Aeon Timeline file.

At this stage, there is a bare minimum information share between the two applications (event titles and dates are displayed in Scrivener) so that I can ensure the underlying syncing process is workable, user-friendly, and safe to existing Scrivener projects.

Consequently, I am looking for volunteers to act as Alpha testers for this functionality. It is very important that you backup both the Aeon Timeline file and the Scrivener file before each sync takes place, and to keep an eye out for anything that might have gone astray after a sync - that way, we will get a better idea of when anything might have become corrupted.

Aside from this basic "does it break anything" testing, I am also interested in feedback on the user interface, and what other information users might want to be synced down the track (at present, entities and characters are completely ignored, event notes, labels, tags etc. are all not synchronized).

Anyone who is interested in testing the new version can download it from the following link:

http://release.scribblecode.com/AeonTimeline_0_7_0.dmg

This update is not yet available through the auto-updater, as I want to ensure it is only available to users who have read this forum message. Once the sync feature gets the tick from enough users, I will make it available more generally.

Thanks,
Matt


(If anyone is not interested in the Scrivener Sync but does want the most up-to-date bug fixes and the text readout, then feel free to download it and avoid the sync feature altogether).

nb
nbfilms
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Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:23 am Post

Very cool!

Q: When I add a new event to Aeon timeline after synchronizing the 1st time & then synchronize again, the newly added Scriv doc is listed at the bottom of the previously synced docs in Scrivener. Is there a way to get the subsequent syncs to recognize the date assigned to the new Aeon event and place them in the correct order alongside their previously synchronized companions in Scrivener? This would be great, rather than having to manually reorder all newly synced events.

Q: Is there any way to see Aeon's meta data on a newly created document(s) besides selecting the whole folder and using the group outliner mode?

Observation: When I click on the "action" selector of an already established link in the Synchronize Timeline panel, nothing shows but a check mark above the "remove link" option.

Some sync Ideas for THE FUTURE!
  • Aeon notes = Scriv document notes
  • Aeon tags = Scriv keywords
  • Aeon Labels = Scriv Labels
  • Aeon dates listed on document heading or at the top of main document text for clear reference.
  • Info fields for filling out all possible Aeon meta data when creating from a Scriv document first.
  • Newly created synced documents are placed in subfolders by Story Arc. (Until Scrivener gets an awesome Story Arc labeling mode?)
  • Entities/Characters synced into their own subfolders (same as events by Story Arc) with their documents listing participating dates/events/ages. This could serve as the beginning of a character sheet.

Thanks again. This sync functionality is going to be awesome!

ma
matt
Posts: 1180
Joined: Mon Jul 30, 2007 9:35 am

Wed Jul 20, 2011 2:00 pm Post

nbfilms wrote:Very cool!

Q: When I add a new event to Aeon timeline after synchronizing the 1st time & then synchronize again, the newly added Scriv doc is listed at the bottom of the previously synced docs in Scrivener. Is there a way to get the subsequent syncs to recognize the date assigned to the new Aeon event and place them in the correct order alongside their previously synchronized companions in Scrivener? This would be great, rather than having to manually reorder all newly synced events.


Are you referring to the order they are placed in the destination folder in Scrivener? I probably could make it sort them, but I hadn't considered it previously because I was thinking of that folder as a temporary destination until the events are dragged elsewhere in the Scriv project (eg. To the Draft folder somewhere).

Aside from the Aeon metadata columns, everything else (document title, location, etc) can be changed without affecting the sync.

nbfilms wrote:Q: Is there any way to see Aeon's meta data on a newly created document(s) besides selecting the whole folder and using the group outliner mode?


[Edit: see tinu's reply below for correct instructions]

nbfilms wrote:Observation: When I click on the "action" selector of an already established link in the Synchronize Timeline panel, nothing shows but a check mark above the "remove link" option.


the empty option is selected by default, and does nothing. In the case you are describing, everything is up to date, and so there is no action to perform unless you want to remove the link. If you change the date in either Aeon or Scrivener, you will have Update and Skip options also.

nbfilms wrote:Some sync Ideas for THE FUTURE!
  • Aeon notes = Scriv document notes
  • Aeon tags = Scriv keywords
  • Aeon Labels = Scriv Labels
  • Aeon dates listed on document heading or at the top of main document text for clear reference.
  • Info fields for filling out all possible Aeon meta data when creating from a Scriv document first.
  • Newly created synced documents are placed in subfolders by Story Arc. (Until Scrivener gets an awesome Story Arc labeling mode?)
  • Entities/Characters synced into their own subfolders (same as events by Story Arc) with their documents listing participating dates/events/ages. This could serve as the beginning of a character sheet.

Thanks again. This sync functionality is going to be awesome!


thanks for the suggestions. I have already considered some of them, but need to work out how to make them user configurable (optional in cases where people want them to be different) and safe. So far, nothing is changed in a Scrivener document, only new fields added, so there is no risk of overwriting important data.

But if you start syncing labels and keywords, and worse, notes, then it becomes a lot more likely you will mess with important data. For notes, you can always append the two (but implementation would be difficult as you would need to avoid appending existing content on subsequent syncs - messy).

Not saying they can't be dine, just need to be thought through.

Matt

ti
tinu
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Wed Jul 20, 2011 2:49 pm Post

Is there any way to see Aeon's meta data on a newly created document(s) besides selecting the whole folder and using the group outliner mode?


They can be viewed in the inspector under "General-Meta-Data". Just click on "General-Meta-Data", a pulldown-menu opens to switch to "Custom-Meta-Data" and there they are.
MacBook Pro 2.0 GHz 8GB | OSX 10.9.5

nb
nbfilms
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Thu Jul 21, 2011 5:34 am Post

Great info Matt. That helps me see where you're coming from. It sounds like I'm going in the wrong direction. Thanks for the "inspector info" Tinu... very helpful (I'm a noob at both programs).

This may be where you're headed:
If Aeon-only "label/story arc/entity" metadata can sync & show in outliner mode (as Aeon event/date/id do now) then I can column sort and drag clusters of the Scrivener event-docs into folders elsewhere in Scrivener, sorted by story arc/label/characters, etc.— speeding up my organizational process.

This still leaves the issue of manually re-entering/assigning tags as keywords in Scrivener (shudder). Perhaps a tags sync could be copy/pasted into keywords for the document? not sure.

-----

Here's my current workflow (please, anyone pitch in if you can see a better way to do this!):

  • In Story Arc View I create a new event in Aeon, assign it a date, story arc, label (usually a primary, secondary, or tertiary character label) and a bunch of tags for later sorting. I type a bunch of notes (usually ideas that the writing group agrees upon for the event).

  • I flip to Entity View and set entity associations with the new event. I then sync the timeline to Scrivener and have an ordered list of events as documents (sitting at 234 event-documents at the moment... you can see why the idea of having to retag/keyword/label each of these new documents sucks ^_^). Each of the writers is given an event or two to write about for the week. Their work will be copy/pasted back into the newly-made Scrivener document for that event.

    It would be GREAT to have the notes I have already typed in Aeon ready & waiting in Scrivener after sync (sitting in the main body text or document notes or somewhere) and all the tags I've assigned the event synced (as keywords for the document) and the labels correctly labeled, so forth and so on... all to avoid redundant organization in Scrivener. For those starting in Scrivener, that may not be such an issue (although I should think that one would want their Scriv labels and tags to translate over to the timeline to avoid needless work).

    Our writers group loves mapping out ideas on the timeline first. It's a lot of fun, especially with 8 people clamoring over ideas. Any suggestions of efficiently getting notes, labels, data out of Aeon in into Scriv would be much appreciated. Perhaps I'm missing a clearer creative path here. My apologies!

Anyway, my $.02. (Feel free to throw this in another topic if not appropriate for this one)
I appreciate your hard work, and am loving where this is going!

ti
tinu
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Thu Jul 21, 2011 5:50 am Post

Yesterday I had an afternoon to play around with the new syncing-feature. I'm impressed and I like it very much.

This was the task Aeon had to fullfill:
- I made a new Aeon timeline with custom calender
- synced an existing Scrivener project to get all the events
- sorted out events that I wouldn't have in Aeon
- added date and time to the remaining events
- while doing this I synced the two files several times

All this worked without failure and I didn't find corrupted files. The Scrivener project and the Aeon timeline lie both in the same folder. One little trouble I had, but that was due to a fault of mine. After some syncing I made a mistake in one or two events, got back to an autobackup and renamed it to the original Aeon file. Then Aeon told me, that this file was already synced to another Scrivener project and that all the events would be overwritten. Well, in that case that was no problem.

Because I had to sync nearly 150 scrivenings to Aeon and sort them out some additional functionality would have been helpful.
In the second syncing-dialogue (where I can choose the scrivenings to sync) I would liked to have a filter that let me see all the Scrivener binder, just the draft-folder or just the the research-folder. In my case I just wanted to sync files in the draft-folder.
A sorting feature in this dialogue would have been helpful also. Let's say I click on the column header and I get that column sorted alphabetically.

As I'm using a custom date format it would be nice if I could choose it in the first dialogue under "Timeline Date Format". But maybe that would lead to some problems with Scrivener.

One thing however puzzles me. After yesterdays operation I got my folder filled with autobackups. Well, im going to delete them. But maybe there's a way to limit the autobackup to just one.

As nbfilms pointed out I also like some additional metadata to be synced. But in my case I would prefer the syncing of the Scrivener synopsis to Aeon notes. And here arise difficulties: every user has its own way of using meta data.

Anyway, thank you, Matt, for providing us with such a wonderful program.

Tinu

Ah yes, one more thing: Of course I'm going to pay for it...
MacBook Pro 2.0 GHz 8GB | OSX 10.9.5

ma
matt
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Thu Jul 21, 2011 6:29 am Post

Additional Meta-data
Certainly at the point of creating a new event from a Scriv Doc, or a new Scriv Doc for an event, then it is possible to pull across more information, such as keywords and notes. This would get over the initial hurdle of having data in one you want to pull into the other.

The difficulties arise when you then change the text in both, and want to see the changes synced from one to another.

* Keywords/Tags are easy to merge by just ignoring duplicates, so I will probably introduce this.
* Aeon Labels can be added as an extra custom meta-data field to Scrivener, but I am not sure I would want to use the Scrivener Label system - people might have different uses for each and want them separate.
* Notes are the big problem that would be quite nasty.

Too many backups
The Aeon auto-backups will go - that is just me being cautious during this beta phase and saving the project out each time before the sync takes place. I will make this more manageable when I am comfortable that there are no major losses of data lurking around the corner (Stuff gets backed up within Scrivener projects too, in a way a Scrivener project will be able to recognise and pickup).


Navigating Scriv Docs
One option I am thinking about is changing the "Scrivener Title" to include the full path...
eg. "Draft / Chapter 1 / Charlie gets a dog" instead of just "Charlie gets a dog".

The next step would be to be able to select multiple rows and modify their "Action" together (eg. you could pick a whole bunch at once and choose "Ignore").

Filtering to just Draft folders or Research folders etc. is certainly another option I will look into.

I will need to give it some more thought for how to make it a little more user-friendly, but glad that the basic underlying approach is holding up to some testing beyond my own expectations.

nb
nbfilms
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Thu Jul 21, 2011 12:54 pm Post

That sounds very cool Matt. As Tinu says, things will get a bit complicated as we use it differently. Best to choose a safe way for all to use. Did a bunch more syncing today, and no problems arose. It's looking good!

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shorn
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Wed Aug 31, 2011 2:47 pm Post

Hi,

I have been playing with Aeon 0.7.0.

First, I created a new Aeon doc and a new Scriv doc and proceeded to create events on both sides, syncing back and forth with no trouble. Perfect.

Second, I duplicated a truly enormous Scriv file, with hundreds of entries, and then duplicated a corresponding Aeon document with about 35 events in it. I had created the Aeon file because I was having trouble visualizing a complicated series of historical events in the Scriv document. I wanted to see if I could now bring in the timeline data using the new sync function.

The problem was that at this point I only wanted to sync the Aeon events to Scriv, but not bring any of the Scriv documents into Aeon. In the Sync dialogue I would have to select each Scriv document and then choose "Ignore". I can't find any way to make a multiple selection and ignore them all at once. Could this be added?

In any case, a really good step forward, Matt. (The money has been earmarked to purchase Aeon as soon as you release it!)

By the way, I agree with the wish to sync keywords with tags. Notes would be good too, but I see the problem.

Best,
Simon
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