Scrivener should become subscription

Ta
TadeoBlanco

Sat Aug 08, 2020 1:08 am Post

Thanks for the comprehensive response Keith.

I have no desire to see Scrivener move to subscription. While I have an aversion to subscriptions, if that were forced on you by Apple policy, I’d probably stay, though to be totally honest would look for other non-sub options, not that I can think of any candidates.

I’m not fussed about the lack of iCloud. I have a free 2TB iCloud but apart from backups and a few work files don’t trust it for active syncing.

My extensive iCloud exposure has given me a healthy scepticism of its ability to safely handle much beyond the simplest of storage tasks. Will that change? Apple has the resources to turn iCloud into a best in class solution and with added focus on services may well make the commitment, however for now I recommend treating iCloud like a rattly old ‘spinner’ that may crash the heads into the disc at any moment.

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rayl
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Sat Aug 08, 2020 8:08 am Post

To respond to Keith's hypothetical question about a trade offs in a "cut down" version of Scrivener and specifically the example that research material might be excluded in the interests of synch via iCloud. I use Scrivener mainly for research (Economics and Art History) and keeping research sources and write up together in a project is one of its greatest strengths. It enables easy cross referring between drafting and research plus seamlessly working on a project across several machines through the excellent dropbox link.

Ray

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Sun Aug 09, 2020 12:52 pm Post

Hi Katherine

Literature & Latte's public, unaudited accounts are visible via Companies House. The last set of accounts posted was up to March 2019.

I'm no accountant, but your "we are fine" statement aligns with my impression things weren't going too badly for the Directors at the last reporting period.

Rgds, J

kewms wrote:Since we are not a public company, it's not clear where your supposed insight into our finances might be coming from.

Thank you for your concern, but we are fine. Hiring more people, in fact.

I think Keith has previously expressed his lack of interest in the subscription model.

Katherine

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Sun Aug 09, 2020 4:37 pm Post

johnnyalpha wrote:Hi Katherine

Literature & Latte's public, unaudited accounts are visible via Companies House. The last set of accounts posted was up to March 2019.

I'm no accountant, but your "we are fine" statement aligns with my impression things weren't going too badly for the Directors at the last reporting period.

Rgds, J


I've edited your post to remove the links. As a limited UK company, our accounts are indeed public via Companies House, and anyone who is interested can go and look them up there. I'm a little uncomfortable with them being posted directly on the forums, though.

All the best,
Keith
"You can't waltz in here, use my toaster, and start spouting universal truths without qualification."

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Sun Aug 09, 2020 4:50 pm Post

mbbntu wrote:I don't do much writing these days, but Scrivener as it is serves me just fine. I look forward to a series of posts stating which features are absolutely indispensable, and each post being completely different from the others ;)


rayl wrote:To respond to Keith's hypothetical question about a trade offs in a "cut down" version of Scrivener and specifically the example that research material might be excluded in the interests of synch via iCloud. I use Scrivener mainly for research (Economics and Art History) and keeping research sources and write up together in a project is one of its greatest strengths. It enables easy cross referring between drafting and research plus seamlessly working on a project across several machines through the excellent dropbox link.


Thanks, both. We're putting together a survey to get more information about how users use Scrivener and which features they find the most vital, and what sort of payoffs they would be happy with for some of the most common requests. I'm genuinely interested in the answers. Also, I do find myself thinking about a simpler version of Scrivener, if only to make the code base more manageable on my end!

Astaff wrote:I’m not fussed about the lack of iCloud. I have a free 2TB iCloud but apart from backups and a few work files don’t trust it for active syncing.

My extensive iCloud exposure has given me a healthy scepticism of its ability to safely handle much beyond the simplest of storage tasks. Will that change? Apple has the resources to turn iCloud into a best in class solution and with added focus on services may well make the commitment, however for now I recommend treating iCloud like a rattly old ‘spinner’ that may crash the heads into the disc at any moment.


iCloud certainly doesn't "just work" quite as well as it should. There are known issues with it getting "stuck" and not syncing between two machines sitting next to each other on the same network for hours in some situations. And, in doing more testing with iCloud recently, I've found all sorts of issues still extant in the app document architecture and iCloud, that require all sorts of workarounds (stuff like an app being told that there have been changes made to a document on iCloud and so to update the UI, when the changes were made on that very machine).

Login wrote:Dear Keith

Our lives are dependent on so many other lives: family, friends, the people who bring us into this world, provide health care, food, water, power, products, dispose of our waste, educate us, etc, etc , etc. There are so many people in the web of our existence that the number of interdependencies we all rely on just boggles my mind. I cannot identify all the people who have made my life better, but in your case I can say unequivocally that you have had a major impact on my life, and one that I will be forever grateful for.

Although I might never be a good writer, you - through Scrivener - have made me a far better writer than I was and would otherwise have been, and for that fact alone I am both grateful and indebted. I don’t have heroes, but if I did, you would, without a doubt, be wearing a cape around your shoulders and underpants over your tights.

I have complete and utter respect (and some envy) for what you have achieved, and admiration for the way you have benevolently helped others to strive and achieve.

I feel some personal shame in speaking so candidly about my recent experiences with Bear, and I in no way mean any disrespect to you or the company or any other users. I am just trying to explain that my needs (in part because you “trained” me to be a better writer) have changed over time, and that in changing I have progressed along a path that has for the moment diverged a little from the L&L one. No malice. No agenda. Just my personal, unimportant experience.

Apple has, especially with the improvements made to the last couple of OS releases, made me lazy. I take a photo on my iPhone and it is there on my iPad and Macs, without thinking. The same goes for emails, messages, contact details, notes, books, PDFs, calendar appointments, reminders, films, music tracks, etc.

Through sloth and some tech issues with Dropbox, I have found myself sorting out the IT of getting Scrivener for Mac and iOS to play perfectly together, rather than just getting on with writing. Bear works like my other Apple apps: everything, everywhere, without thinking.

So, yes, if there was a simpler version of Scrivener that worked between my Apple devices as other Apple apps do, I would certainly be a customer. We waited a fair amount of time for iOS Scrivener to be released, but when it was, it was a thing of elegance and beauty. On first release, Dropbox wasn’t an issue: just so glad to have Scrivener available on an iOS device. But now, with Apple getting me into ever lazier habits, Dropbox and the need to sync manually are just small grains of grit that get in MY way. I emphasise MY because I completely accept that my laziness is MY own fault and that many other users are completely happy with the way things are now. Also accept that I am an ass for letting a little grit grind me down, but I am what I am, and I just want to get as much grit out of my life as I can. No disrespect meant. Apologies if this analogy grates in any way.

So I am not imploring you to make any changes: your vision, your company, you know what works for the greater number of users, and so all that matters to me is that you should drive ahead with whatever makes you happy and successful. I would love a version of Scrivener that worked through iCloud like other Apple apps, but far more than that, I want you to do whatever is best for you, your happiness, your welfare, your family, and your company. My feelings and workflow don’t matter at all. I will always be thankful for the positive impact you have had on my life, and I am in no position to ask for anything when it is clear that you are far smarter than I will ever be.

All the best.


Again, thank you for your polite and thoughtful feedback - and for your very kind words. I certainly do not take offence at anything you say or find it disrespectful in any way, and the perspective is useful. I'm curious about how many others feel the same way who haven't stuck around to tell us.
"You can't waltz in here, use my toaster, and start spouting universal truths without qualification."

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Mon Aug 10, 2020 9:26 am Post

KB wrote:Thanks, both. We're putting together a survey to get more information about how users use Scrivener and which features they find the most vital, and what sort of payoffs they would be happy with for some of the most common requests.

I think there are, somewhat simplified, two kinds of users: those who, like me, just use the software without spending time thinking about what might have been possible had the software been different or had other features, and those who do spend time on this.

I test new apps every now and then just to see if they might be better in some way than the ones I use. When I come to a situation where I observe that something I tried to do isn’t possible or didn’t function the way I expected, I don’t pursue this observation in any way. I basically accept that apps are the way they are. I adapt to their inner quirks and very, very seldom wish for additional features. There are loads of things in Scrivener I don’t use, partly because I’m not very organised in the way I work. All this stuff with linking and bookmarks and stuff requires that I remember how I was thinking when I set them up, and I seldom do. I don’t have specific workflows, repetitively doing certain things, like others seem to do.

So, where does that put me in relation to one-time-purchase and subscription? Well, it doesn’t really matter as long as the total cost is acceptable. Would I buy Scrivener 4 if it was released in, let’s say two years? Probably not. Scrivener 3 already has more than I need. Would I pay for a Subscription if the business model was changed? Yes, if it was reasonable, like 5-10 USD per year.

A new but interesting model is the one chosen by the team behind the Agenda app. When you pay, you get the app in its current shape, plus any new features added within the next 12 months. When the 12 months have passed, you keep your current version, but you don’t get any new features until you decide to pay again. The only problem is that this requires lots of users that want new features, and the more feature-rich the app becomes, the trickier it will be to come up with new features that a lot of users would want to pay for.

I have two other apps I really like: 2Do (task manager) and BusyCal (calendar). They are one-time-purchase, but this means that no matter how much I like them, the creator won’t get any money from me unless he releases a new version, which isn’t very likely (because they are already so damn good). I would gladly pay a small annual fee to support this developer to make sure the apps keep existing.

Alfred is an app where I, as an original power user, have free future updates. But when I update, I am asked if I might consider supporting further development by paying a small fee, which I have so far gladly done.
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

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Mon Aug 10, 2020 9:47 am Post

Thanks for these insights Keith, much appreciated. I'll keep an eye out for the survey if it's intended for public posting, and will happily contribute. Earlier this year I published the third academic monograph I've written entirely in Scrivener, so you can count me as another extremely satisfied customer/user. And I'm managing just fine without deeper reference software integration :D

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Mon Aug 10, 2020 11:53 am Post

Hi Keith

I think that the cracks are starting to show in Scrivener's current development methodology. This is leading to larger, more complex, but longer releases, instead of the more agile sprints and quick releases that modern users expect. But the problem is the majority of your user base are legacy users who don't want frequent changes made to their well-loved and nurtured software tools every month or quarter (Despite having worked in IT for 25 years, I'm one of them!). Yet your future revenue streams will increasingly depend on the 'quick to create/consume' brigade, not the latter - older writers don't write (or live) for ever...

But there's a paradox I know you already are aware of : The disconnect between Scrivener's traditional desktop GUI hooks and backend textual data structures with modern cloud service APIs is becoming obvious. The bug fix list speaks of a tangled web of externally forced interdependencies. But Scrivener is good at what it does because of the former! Writers don't want or need event based message queues and REStful data services. Our content is not designed to be shared on-the-fly. The book publishing industry is still a dinosaur in terms of modern process workflows and data transfers. Printed paper is still valued more than screen-based presentations.

So Scrivener has to balance itself on this wobbling, flexible divide between the old and new, the traditional and the modern, the quick hit of an expresso feature vs. the maturing of a fine product. It's not about cloud, or subscription models or even the greater, still unrealised threat, of AI tools becoming part of a writers' toolset and audio becoming mainstream for curation, production and publishing. It's instead fundamentally about management of change for Scrivener to successfully adapt to incorporate these new creativity and publishing paradigms. It's always been about this, for as long as the technology bandwagon has been on the road. Candlemakers and light bulbs, livery stables and internal combustion engines, Scrivener and more automated processes for creating written content?

But, luckily, you have built the best asset of all : your user base. Build an ark, be Noah and take us with you on whatever journey it takes. Losing us will kill your product and your reputation faster than any product cycle delay.

This is all I can say in this medium without getting too technical or long-winded about future architectural decisions

(btw, no prob with taking down the accounting links I posted. I'm really pleased you're successful - all my writing eggs are in your basket!)

Best, J

Thanks, both. We're putting together a survey to get more information about how users use Scrivener and which features they find the most vital, and what sort of payoffs they would be happy with for some of the most common requests. I'm genuinely interested in the answers. Also, I do find myself thinking about a simpler version of Scrivener, if only to make the code base more manageable on my end!

Again, thank you for your polite and thoughtful feedback - and for your very kind words. I certainly do not take offence at anything you say or find it disrespectful in any way, and the perspective is useful. I'm curious about how many others feel the same way who haven't stuck around to tell us.

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Mon Aug 10, 2020 9:18 pm Post

Hi, @KB. Dang. I keep starting drafts of this post, and they keep coming out as rants that will ignite a flame war. :| Not my intention.

For me, Scrivener could change in the following ways and still be my go-to writing software. I will say that the corkboard / synopses are core to how I use Scrivener; the Outliner, less so but still important. I would be disappointed if stacked corkboards disappeared!

  • I don't use Scrivener as a research repository, so don't feel that users have to be able to dump everything into Scrivener in order to keep me as a user.
  • There are many similar sets of features that enable users to do almost the same thing: for one example, the term "notes" can mean about seven different features – and has in various forum posts. Please feel free to delete near-duplicates. I will cope somehow. :wink:

Regarding ease of sync: have you looked at how Ulysses handles its external folders feature? It's a different sync paradigm that might be a better fit for Scrivener projects. It can be used with any cloud service that's accessible via the iOS Files app, including but not limited to iCloud, Dropbox, et al. It might be easier on Windows users. It would involve changes to the Scrivener project structure, but what wouldn't? :wink:

Finally, some suggestions about UI. You are right that users seem less and less inclined to read doc – and the same can be said for developers wanting to provide it! The problem I see with Scrivener is that when I start an empty project, I get a document pane that looks very similar to a document pane in Word, or Pages, or even TextEdit. The Tutorial looks like a polished Word doc. The temptation is to assume that that I already know 90% of how to use this software, when in fact I probably know about 10%.

My suggestions: make it obvious from the start that there is a learning curve. Don't call styles "styles" unless they're to be used the way styles are in Word – think up another name. Put those "outline boxes" around them; lose the way to make a style without them. Hide the format bar by default, and bury how to make it visible in the menu system, except possibly for character attributes and a "styles" pulldown. And somehow apply changes to the default formatting automatically to all extant documents in a project. Do it to different projects as they're opened.

And make "as-is" a hard-to-access compiling option.

In short, I suggest you make Scrivener look and act more like a markup-based writing app. No one expects to send what they see in the Ulysses editor to their audience, be that audience readers, a professor, or a judge. I suggest it be the same with Scrivener. I know that this is contrary to how you envisioned Scrivener in the beginning – I've butted heads with you on this before! – but I believe it would help new users have realistic expectations.

:D Of course, you will do exactly as you decide, and I will likely remain your customer and loyal user.
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Mon Aug 10, 2020 9:49 pm Post

Silverdragon wrote:Hi, @KB. Dang. I keep starting drafts of this post, and they keep coming out as rants that will ignite a flame war. :| Not my intention.

For me, Scrivener could change in the following ways and still be my go-to writing software. I will say that the corkboard / synopses are core to how I use Scrivener; the Outliner, less so but still important. I would be disappointed if stacked corkboards disappeared!

  • I don't use Scrivener as a research repository, so don't feel that users have to be able to dump everything into Scrivener in order to keep me as a user.
  • There are many similar sets of features that enable users to do almost the same thing: for one example, the term "notes" can mean about seven different features – and has in various forum posts. Please feel free to delete near-duplicates. I will cope somehow. :wink:

Regarding ease of sync: have you looked at how Ulysses handles its external folders feature? It's a different sync paradigm that might be a better fit for Scrivener projects. It can be used with any cloud service that's accessible via the iOS Files app, including but not limited to iCloud, Dropbox, et al. It might be easier on Windows users. It would involve changes to the Scrivener project structure, but what wouldn't? :wink:

Finally, some suggestions about UI. You are right that users seem less and less inclined to read doc – and the same can be said for developers wanting to provide it! The problem I see with Scrivener is that when I start an empty project, I get a document pane that looks very similar to a document pane in Word, or Pages, or even TextEdit. The Tutorial looks like a polished Word doc. The temptation is to assume that that I already know 90% of how to use this software, when in fact I probably know about 10%.

My suggestions: make it obvious from the start that there is a learning curve. Don't call styles "styles" unless they're to be used the way styles are in Word – think up another name. Put those "outline boxes" around them; lose the way to make a style without them. Hide the format bar by default, and bury how to make it visible in the menu system, except possibly for character attributes and a "styles" pulldown. And somehow apply changes to the default formatting automatically to all extant documents in a project. Do it to different projects as they're opened.

And make "as-is" a hard-to-access compiling option.

In short, I suggest you make Scrivener look and act more like a markup-based writing app. No one expects to send what they see in the Ulysses editor to their audience, be that audience readers, a professor, or a judge. I suggest it be the same with Scrivener. I know that this is contrary to how you envisioned Scrivener in the beginning – I've butted heads with you on this before! – but I believe it would help new users have realistic expectations.

:D Of course, you will do exactly as you decide, and I will likely remain your customer and loyal user.

WOW! I don't agree with a word of what you're saying. There are hundreds of apps out there that do exactly what you are proposing Scrivener to become. Another markup editor? Really? And how is Ulysses syncing related to the cross-platform Scrivener requires?

One of the main reasons I use Scrivener is its ability to store all research related to a project in one place. The other is the outline. Cut those out and Scrivener becomes just another text editor.
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Mon Aug 10, 2020 10:55 pm Post

Thank you for your prompt response, krastev!

The Ulysses external folder sync doesn't use iCloud sync for the whole freaking library. Rather, it syncs the individual files (read: Scrivener docs) in the folder and all the folder's sub-folders. It maintains that folder structure in its presentation to the user. I believe that much of the sort of information that is stored in the .scrivx file is maintained in hidden files distributed throughout the folders and sub-folders.

In short, it maintains the outline. It's a less complex outline, to be sure, (we are talking Ulysses here) but the outline is maintained. In addition, each file within the structure is edited "in-place" so syncing "to" the cloud happens continuously in the background. (I haven't tried it offline so I don't know what happens then. Presumably something reasonable.) I assume those distributed outline info files are continuously updated as well. It will do this for any folder structure that iOS Files app supports, including iCloud Drive, Dropbox, and Google Drive to my certain knowledge. The ability to use anything besides iCloud has to help out Windows users. :D

So no, I am NOT advocating losing the outline. Or the metadata. (Ulysses has less extensive metadata than Scrivener but it still has a good deal. Keywords, attachments, and document notes for sure. Somehow that is maintained in its external folder system.)

Nor do I suggest that full rich text not be available, merely that it be hidden by default. Mac Scrivener 3 can already hide the formatting bar; I suggest that be the default. I suggest, not that named styles be eliminated, but that they be called something else (so that it's less tempting for former Word users to style everything in sight) :wink: . I suggest styles have a visible outline, as they already may in Mac Scrivener 3.; I suggest that be standard.

In short, I don't think I've suggested the removal of a single feature from Mac Scrivener except unmarked style spans. Rather, I've suggested a different appearance and presentation so that it's obvious from the start that Scrivener isn't intended as a WYSIWYG system.

As for research, it's unimportant to me as an individual. I know there are many like yourself to whom it's core. One thing about Ulysses ' external folder approach is that, like Scrivener's current Dropbox sync, nothing gets downloaded to my iOS device unless it's changed. I can confirm this for sure – I've used Ulysses external folders with Dropbox for years to manage my blog.

Don't confuse my Ulysses suggestion with Scrivener's external folder sync, which as you say flattens the outline and loses any non-text research. My suggestion is merely that KB have a look (if he hasn’t already!) at how Ulysses maintains its outline and metadata in Ulysses’ external folder system and consider whether such an approach might work for full-up Scrivener projects.
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Tue Aug 11, 2020 5:58 am Post

Silverdragon wrote:In short, I suggest you make Scrivener look and act more like a markup-based writing app.

I almost never use the cork board, seldom the outliner, sometimes synopsis, do use the format bar, keep a limited amount of research in each project, have fairly small projects, and hate markdown!

But I agree on the part about not having a GUI that resembles Word or other wysiwyg word processors. Don’t initially display margins, a ruler, page view, and use a font that people don’t automatically connect with printing i.e avoid Times New Roman and all those and use something weird like Menlo. And I agree about hiding any formatting except bold, underline and italics.

About formatting at the Compile stage, there is one detail which creates confusion. You decide on font size and a lot of stuff in the formatting pane, but then you suddenly have to use the Format menu commands for paragraph spacing and a few other things? That’s not logical. You should either have all formatting options in the compile window, or none. Display the window but let the user use the usual menu or formatting bar options. Either or, not both.
I am a user, writing non-fiction and science, using:
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* iOS Scrivener 1 on an iPhone 11 Pro, iPad Air 9.7”, and iPad Pro 12.9”, all running the latest iOS

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Tue Aug 11, 2020 6:39 am Post

Hi, Lunk. I don’t hate Markdown, but I get that many Scrivener users may. :D As you observed, my point was not to advocate a markup editing environment as such, but to co-opt some of those characteristics to make Scrivener more obviously Not Like Word. Or Pages. And look like something that will require some effort to master, or at least some effort to figure out how to format output.

(Menlo isn’t weird. Try Recursive Casual Mono sometime—it’s like Menlo and Comic Sans had a baby... )

I totally agree with you that all the formatting commands should be available from the compile format dialog. It just doesn’t make sense to have to go to the menu system while in a modal dialog. OTOH, the dialog is pretty crowded already; where would you put them?
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Tue Aug 11, 2020 6:46 am Post

Silverdragon wrote:I totally agree with you that all the formatting commands should be available from the compile format dialog. It just doesn’t make sense to have to go to the menu system while in a modal dialog. OTOH, the dialog is pretty crowded already; where would you put them?

A pull-down menu in the dialog window, like a menu in the window itself? :D
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

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Tue Aug 11, 2020 6:50 am Post

lunk wrote:About formatting at the Compile stage, there is one detail which creates confusion. You decide on font size and a lot of stuff in the formatting pane, but then you suddenly have to use the Format menu commands for paragraph spacing and a few other things? That’s not logical.


It's also not accurate. The line spacing dropdown in the Section Layout -> Formatting pane has all the same options that the Format menu does. (Click "other" down at the bottom for things like paragraph spacing.)

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