Collaboration

cr
creactiv
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Mon Mar 15, 2021 3:51 pm Post

Well,
i know, there are a lot of questions about collaboration. I would like to emphasize, that Scrivener could do a lot more better if there would be any sort of collaboration feature. In my company, i work with, we have to create documentation and it is nearly impossible, to find out who is working on which document at any given moment.

Besides, that you cannot only create fiction or novels with Scrivener, i really like the typewriter approach not having to move my head all the time to follow what i am typing.

So i would like to come up with this:

After opening a project it will tell you:

Somebody else is using this document; you can open the document in read-only mode or quit working

Alternatively:

Notify other User to hand over the document

Would introduce a .lck file which could trigger that message and i think not too much work to implement, but would be more userfriendly than having to figure out, when somebody is working on the document and checking calender entries and the like.

Another option would be to not be able to edit the document someone is working on, but being able to add more content... which would be held in a separate file with a merging after the other editor has closed the document.

This could do the trick for files being on a shared storage like on a NAS or in NextCloud or OneDrive or whatever.

I am pretty sure, that this would appeal to others as well, following the "keep it simple" Approach...

Any thoughts?

Best

Ja
JackSchaeffer
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Mon Mar 22, 2021 12:38 am Post

I asked this question YEARS ago, and many people asked the same question YEARS before me. Collaboration with other writers/editors is a key requirement for MANY writers. It's just not a thing in Scrivener world.

Simultaneous collaboration is not even on the radar for Scrivener (at least that was what I was told when I asked.)

Part of the challenge, I suspect, is the way Scrivener works, with a project composed of many different files stored in an unreadable collection in various folder directories. While this was efficient and game-changing years ago - and admittedly solved many of the challenges in writing long works - things have progressed in the software world. Most word processors and every new writing app has embraced a cloud-first strategy. Not Scrivener.

While taking FOUR years (so far) to deliver the next version of the Windows desktop app, I fear they've also misjudged the long-term design requirements of the market. Perhaps they still have a corner on some of their unique functionality, but how much of what fed their claim to fame in the past is now passé? For example, Compile. It's still confusing to most Scrivener users. It's overly complicated. And with a plethora of FREE book formatting tools out there, why would anyone even bother (aside from some very specific situations). Stitch together an RTF of my book and I'll take it from there.

I wrote my last book completely in Google Docs. I tried Scrivener along the way, but I couldn't function without collaboration with my editors. With Google Docs all four of us can be in the same chapter document at the same time. And I don't have to merge comments or manually compare two or more documents.

If only Scrivener would have realized the changing needs of the market...

I hope they figure out their mess with Version 3.0, but even when it's PERFECT and the die-hard believers proclaim victory, it still won't have collaboration tools to speak of, making it virtually unusable to anyone needing that feature, which is a shame.

Ru
RuffPub
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Mon Mar 22, 2021 9:04 am Post

JackSchaeffer wrote:Most word processors and every new writing app has embraced a cloud-first strategy. Not Scrivener.

While taking FOUR years (so far) to deliver the next version of the Windows desktop app, I fear they've also misjudged the long-term design requirements of the market. Perhaps they still have a corner on some of their unique functionality, but how much of what fed their claim to fame in the past is now passé? For example, Compile. It's still confusing to most Scrivener users. It's overly complicated. And with a plethora of FREE book formatting tools out there, why would anyone even bother (aside from some very specific situations). Stitch together an RTF of my book and I'll take it from there.

I wrote my last book completely in Google Docs.
If only Scrivener would have realised the changing needs of the market...


Most word processors are NOT cloud first. - Word, Pages, Word Perfect, Nisus, Open Office, all local first. Google Docs is indeed cloud first, and if you are happy with Google having access to all your words, good for you. If you want a cloud based collaboration with privacy/security, try Pages (and a Mac) which has better dtp functionality than Docs.

They may have misjudged the long term design requirements of your market, but most of us work in isolation and many who do collaborate work in tandem, so their current strategy suits just great. Don’t assume the world at large thinks the same as you. I for one, and most of those I know, want our words on our device, not hostage to some cloud system that may go tits up. I had a play with one that did just that. Lucky for me I was just playing with it and comparing. All I lost were a couple of test projects full of lorem ipsum.

Compile is a doddle if you take 10 minutes to get to know it (ok, perhaps 30). Not over complicated at all. It also allows you to quickly compile to many formats, included the dreaded Word that editors and agents seem stuck on. I don’t need to tack on any FREE book formatting tools. What I have in Scrivener works just fine.

As I said, don’t assume your specific desires are what the world at large wants/needs. If what you prefer works for you, that’s great, but assuming that’s what the majority want.......

Ja
JackSchaeffer
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Mon Mar 22, 2021 3:27 pm Post

JackSchaeffer wrote:Most word processors and every new writing app has embraced a cloud-first strategy. Not Scrivener.


Allow me to clarify my first statement. Most new/updated wordprocessors (including Microsoft Word) and new writing apps (developed in the last five years) have embraced a cloud platform strategy.
Not Scrivener.

I agree that there are plenty of writers who do not want or need collaboration within a document. But that wasn't the question the original poster posed, was it? They were speaking to their need for collaboration. If you don't need it, so be it. But that doesn't mean a great number of people don't.

As for aversions to cloud platforms, I share that perspective in general - especially in the world of corporate censorship we face today. I would never want my work product help hostage to any particular third party - including Scrivener, for which there is no guarantee they will be business two or three years from now.

The real issue here is not an argument about nitpicking this or that generalization. It's about the fact that Scrivener made a choice to NOT include collaboration and that precludes a significant number of users from using the product.

I believe long-term that this will prove to be a big miss for Scrivener and over time could cost them customers, should a comprehensive cloud-based option (maybe with desktop app as well) come to the market.

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kewms
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Mon Mar 22, 2021 4:13 pm Post

Thank you for your concern about the long term health of Literature & Latte. For the time being, though, we are fine.

"Collaboration" is a funny word. It can cover everything from a volume of short stories or a technical treatise where each contributor writes a separate chapter, to simultaneous line-by-line review. Scrivener is extremely well-suited to the former, and not particularly appropriate for the latter. In between, there are as many different approaches as there are writers, and some of them will fit more comfortably with Scrivener than others.

In my own work, the most successful collaborations have been those where a single author consolidates input into a draft, sends that draft to the co-authors for review, and incorporates their input into a second draft. Scrivener works so well within that paradigm that I'd quit on the spot if someone attempted to force me to use a different tool.

While simultaneous line-by-line review can be helpful as a work is being finalized, in my experience trying to write an initial draft in that manner is a waste of everyone's time. So I think it would be more accurate to say that Scrivener becomes less useful for "collaboration" as the work progresses toward its final state, just as Scrivener is less useful for final page layouts than it is for initial drafts. We have always seen our role in that light: "writing" and "publication" are different tasks, and our focus is on the first.

Katherine
Scrivener Support Team

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kewms
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Mon Mar 22, 2021 4:17 pm Post

Incidentally, shortly after I first joined the forums, someone posted a lengthy screed about how Scrivener was basically a cute toy, but totally inadequate for "real writers." And that our survival as a company depended on rewriting the software to this user's specifications.

That was in 2007.

Katherine
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Ja
JackSchaeffer
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Mon Mar 22, 2021 6:19 pm Post

kewms wrote:Thank you for your concern about the long term health of Literature & Latte. For the time being, though, we are fine.



Katherine,, your sarcasm is always much appreciated.

Glad you have a writing process that works for you, and Scrivener is just perfect for it.

For some of us, not so much. It is what it is, and from the usual responses, thinking outside the box is frowned upon.

My apologies. I do sincerely wish L&L all the best. Didn't mean to imply otherwise. And I don't regret my $45 or whatever I paid for 1.9, or the gift subscription I purchased for a college journalism student. Every little bit helps, I suppose.

Happy writing! :)

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devinganger
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Mon Mar 22, 2021 6:43 pm Post

JackSchaeffer wrote:Glad you have a writing process that works for you, and Scrivener is just perfect for it.

For some of us, not so much. It is what it is, and from the usual responses, thinking outside the box is frowned upon


But that's not it at all. It's not that "thinking outside the box is frowned upon" (whatever that means).

It's simply that KB has a very strong vision of what Scrivener is intended to be and how it is intended to work. He has very clearly stated what Scrivener's design goals have been. *All* software design is a process of compromise -- you pick specific goals (or have them picked for you if you start with technology) and those impose specific limitations on your project going forward. Some of the properties of Scrivener that KB considers core impose limitations that would be prohibitively difficult and/or un-fun to work around.

All of the "big" changes I've seen in Scrivener over the years have resulted from people demonstrating to KB that they fit *within* that vision, NOT that they require that vision to be scrapped.

Many times, a lot of the same people who are most upset about KB sticking to his design vision for Scrivener are some of the same ones who like to complain about software from larger companies that doesn't have such a vision and tries to be everything to everyone, as a result, pleasing very few. Writing that kind of software takes lots of money and lots of developers and lots of compromises. A *lot* of that code is just no fun to work with. I've known people who work in the Office team at Microsoft, and they don't have the same passion. They certainly don't stay writing the same software for 10+ years.
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kewms
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Mon Mar 22, 2021 7:13 pm Post

JackSchaeffer wrote:Glad you have a writing process that works for you, and Scrivener is just perfect for it.

For some of us, not so much. It is what it is, and from the usual responses, thinking outside the box is frowned upon.


Every piece of software defines a particular box. It's the nature of the beast.

You're welcome to suggest ways in which Scrivener's box might be expanded. You're also welcome to use other tools if you find that the developer's vision is not a good match with your needs. Or to write your own. That's how Scrivener itself got started, after all.

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kewms
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Tue Mar 23, 2021 12:13 am Post

It occurs to me that the point of my post appears to have been lost.

"Collaboration" means different things to different people, and so it is difficult to know exactly what people who want "better collaboration in Scrivener" are looking for. Concrete examples are more helpful to us than complaining that Scrivener is not buzzword-compliant.

Katherine
Scrivener Support Team

cr
creactiv
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Tue Mar 23, 2021 6:32 am Post

Well,

i might be mistaken, but i outlined my way of collaboration in my original post. Given, that people can live without collaboration is ok, and it is also ok, that people need that and want to use scrivener for it. So what? As i said before: I would like to work with my mates on ONE document. I did NOT emphasize the features of GoogleDocs like 30 people working on the same line, just to make sure, that we can work together. When you are writing novels for yourself, your workflow is different than writing non-fiction where you might have different authors working on different parts of the document over time.

I was only asking for a locking mechanism, telling me, someone is using the document in the first place, so i dont crash my mates work. Second i was asking for being able to add content to the document in a secluded area, given, that i cannot work on the document parts another person is working on. Lets say, mate 1 opened entire document and i am working on a new chapter, this would be merged, as soon as both of us close the software.

It is literally impossible for us to make sure, that each one of us is only working within a given time frame. If i have spare time, i want to write a new chapter, We cannot plan the day down to the minute, because all of us have different jobs and different tasks to accomplish to make a living.

I didn't ask for support of Google Drive, it is common place with my writing mates, that we are using a self-hosted nextcloud server, so the only ones having access are the people working on the project.

@Katherine: Would that be impossible to do?

I really like the approach of Scrivener to help writing. I do not say, that LL will die within one year, if they don't work on collaborative efforts; but i think, you are missing a good opportunity to boost your sales. which might help in getting in more money to support your development of v3 :-)

Best

Ja
JackSchaeffer
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Tue Mar 23, 2021 2:19 pm Post

creactiv wrote:When you are writing novels for yourself, your workflow is different than writing non-fiction where you might have different authors working on different parts of the document over time. I was only asking for a locking mechanism, telling me, someone is using the document in the first place, so i dont crash my mates work. Second i was asking for being able to add content to the document in a secluded area, given, that i cannot work on the document parts another person is working on. Lets say, mate 1 opened entire document and i am working on a new chapter, this would be merged, as soon as both of us close the software.


Though this concept presented by Creactiv is not part of the current Scrivener "box", it hints at something that I think would be an awesome addition to Scrivener and open up the product to that group of writers who do NOT fit the current mold of lone-ranger writers working mostly in isolation with only temporary, scheduled sharing of projects.

If I understand the underlying structure of a Scrivener project, each "document" that makes up a whole book or finished piece is physically separate from every other "document." If there were a mechanism to "LOCK" a "document" checked out by a user (it could be viewed but not edited) then other users could likewise "LOCK" a "document" and edit that one at the same time.

At least conceptually this would not require a breaking of existing functionality. A new layer of access could be configured on top of what's there to do a simple check to see if the "document" is available for editing or not. I know I'm over-simplifying, but it's also not totally crazy.

However, where the wheels fall off is common storage. Where would you physically put the Scrivener project so multiple people could have access to it at the same time? We're back to cloud storage.

Hence my comments above that by making the no-cloud decision, Scrivener has cut off this path for future development, and in so doing, have "chosen" to not cater to people who write in groups or otherwise have a need for shared access to their work.

For the moment, this decision seems to the powers-that-be to be the correct decision for Scrivener and it's customers. So be it. Perhaps there will always be plenty of writers that fit the Scrivener mold, as in the past.

But I do wonder if disruption is coming, and the four plus years spent trying to get Windows 3 off the ground might have been better spent taking a different path. Just my thoughts - which rest comfortably and happily outside the "box". :)

Ja
JackSchaeffer
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Tue Mar 23, 2021 2:34 pm Post

kewms wrote:
You're welcome to suggest ways in which Scrivener's box might be expanded.



Katherine,

All due respect, I'm not sure "welcome" is how people feel when suggesting ANYTHING beyond what has already been decided in regards to Scrivener. A tweak here or there, maybe. But check your own response to my first post in this thread. I felt mildly scolded (I wont's say attacked) by you for daring to share my opinion on the choices Scrivener has made in regards to the features they offer to their customers.

Given your sarcastic first response and then doubling down with a second - in case I didn't get the clear message - was that supposed to make me feel "welcome"? If so, it didn't work.
Last edited by JackSchaeffer on Tue Mar 23, 2021 3:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Ja
JackSchaeffer
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Tue Mar 23, 2021 3:06 pm Post

devinganger wrote:
But that's not it at all. It's not that "thinking outside the box is frowned upon" (whatever that means).


Devinganger,

"Thinking outside the box is frowned upon" means suggesting exactly what you wrote. Challenging the past vision of KB (whoever that is - I'm assuming the owner of Scrivener?) and suggesting future improvements beyond the "scope" of what already is.

devinganger wrote:
It's simply that KB has a very strong vision of what Scrivener is intended to be and how it is intended to work. He has very clearly stated what Scrivener's design goals have been. *All* software design is a process of compromise -- you pick specific goals (or have them picked for you if you start with technology) and those impose specific limitations on your project going forward. Some of the properties of Scrivener that KB considers core impose limitations that would be prohibitively difficult and/or un-fun to work around.

All of the "big" changes I've seen in Scrivener over the years have resulted from people demonstrating to KB that they fit *within* that vision, NOT that they require that vision to be scrapped.



These words illustrate exactly what I was saying - suggestions for improving the product, future-proofing it, expanding the market reach of it - these ideas are received with deep skepticism or rejected completely out-of-hand. You even list the reasons why:
1) Too difficult to work around what's already there
2) Outside of one man's vision for the software
3) Doesn't fit the presumed needs of the current customer base

I'm not suggesting for a minute that KB should kotow to every wish of every person who ever got a whiff of Scrivener. I've stated as clearly as I can, for example, that collaborative capabilities such as those suggested in this thread are not likely to be undertaken - for all three of the reasons you state. So be it. This is the status quo.

However...disruption is a very real thing. I believe there is a brewing disruption in this market, and the status quo will eventually hit a wall. Maybe it won't matter to KB. Or you. Maybe all the current Scrivener users won't care. Or maybe, like Wordperfect lovers back in the day, they will find themselves in a necessary migration to something else. Disruption is seldom pretty or comfortable.

Scrivener was a disruptive force when it first arrived on the scene. It captured - maybe even defined - the writer's software market. But all disruptors can themselves be disrupted. And the sure fire way to guarantee that disruption is to fight tooth-and-nail for the status quo and not listen to "outside the box" input from people who genuinely care about trying to help.

Lurking in these forums are people, like me, who want to do that. They are not "true-believers" but we do like the product and want to make it even better. Yet, too often they are verbally crucified for daring to speak up.

You are one of the first to shut them down, as you have done to me nearly every time I raise my hand.

In then end, you might not be doing as much good for Scrivener - which you clearly love - as you think you are. Some of what people share could be vital for the future success of Scrivener. Just something to think about...

Have a wonderful day.

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lunk
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Tue Mar 23, 2021 3:31 pm Post

JackSchaeffer wrote:I'm not suggesting for a minute that KB should kotow to every wish of every person who ever got a whiff of Scrivener.

Let's assume, just for the sake of the discussion, that you present a wish and L&L does not find your wish in line with the overall vision and structure of Scrivener. How would you like them to respond?

A: "No, this is not something we are likely to include."

B: "Thank you for your input." (i.e no indication about what they think about your idea)

C: - - - (no response at all)
I am a user, writing non-fiction and science, using:
* Mac Scrivener 3 on a Macbook 12”, MacBook Pro 13”, and iMac 27”, running different OS.
* iOS Scrivener 1 on an iPhone 11 Pro, iPad Air 9.7”, and iPad Pro 12.9”, all running the latest iOS