My dream: web services for Scrivener

ar
armand
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Thu Apr 26, 2012 12:16 am Post

Hi,

(I'm french so excuse my english)

First of all, Scrivener is by far the best writing software ever. It lacks 2 or 3 tricks but has more features than all other programs... combined. Still it's fast and easy to use. So my suggestion is not meant for filling any void, it's meant for completing, if possible, the dream that Scrivener is.

There is a lot of screenwriting web apps, but very few come with a desktop app for offline working.
So far, only 3 names come in mind: Adobe Story, Celtx and Screenwriting pro. Screenwriting pro is not even ready for collaboration; Celtx is fine (and free) but the collaboration is not good: you have to manually lock a document to avoid overwriting by someone else, and manually unlock it. Adobe Story has automatic locking... but the web interface is confusing and laggy, and the desktop app cannot compete with Scrivener. (same for Celtx and Screenwriting Pro)

Obviously my wildest dream would be a web service for Scrivener users like Adobe Story. A user account where I could store all my scrivener projects, share them with other writers with control (read only, read and write...) and edit them in my desktop app or in the web app. When someone works on a project, the project would be locked so nobody else can make changes in the same time, only read. Even better: only the part that is being edited is locked (since any scene or sheet in Scrivener is a single RFT file). EVEN BETTER: real-time collaborating like in EtherPad or the collabowriter feature in Final Draft, I don't even know if it's technically possible, especially if desktop sessions and web sessions are mixed together.

I know, I'm asking so much. But I'm so ready to pay the price. And can swear i'm not the only one:

http://ask.metafilter.com/150210/Collaborative-Screenwriting

Again, your software is the best AND one of the cheapest. Unbelievable. So even if you never come up with a new version or new services, Scrivener is still the best and I plan to keep using it. But man, if it had those features... I know you would need an entire team and some time. Even just a web service (no web app) that manages the storage, sharing and locking would be great.

Keep in mind that I suggest this because I don't see how Scrivener could be improved otherwise.

Thanks for your magnificent piece of software.

Best regards

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kewms
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Thu Apr 26, 2012 5:19 pm Post

Many of our users use Dropbox for file sharing. It seems to work pretty well.

I would say that a web version of Scrivener is unlikely. Web-based real time collaboration is *hard* -- my understanding is that it was the single most difficult aspect of Google Docs, and of course Google has far more resources to devote to the problem than any small software company.

Katherine
Scrivener Support Team

ar
armand
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Mon Nov 12, 2012 10:50 pm Post

Thanks for your answer.

I allready use Dropbox for many other purposes but with Scrivener it has 2 problems

1 when the same project is open by two different users, it generates a conflict.

2 a scrivener project is made of multiple files that dropbox synchronises one by one. So multiple growl notifications and sometimes multiple conflicts inside the same project...

So the solution for those two problems would be a file-locking function in Dropbox. But it doesn't exist (Or I'm not aware of it).

Anyway, I understand that a web-based app seems unlikely. And I know that my expectations are very high. I will look for "custom solutions" in Dropbox features to satisfy my demands.

Thanks again for your answer,

Long live Scrivener

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Siren
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Mon Nov 12, 2012 11:08 pm Post

Hi Armand,

Just to say, you must never have a Scrivener project open on two machines at once, as this may cause data loss. Please note these fairly commonsense guidelines when using Scrivener with Dropbox (or similar solutions): http://www.literatureandlatte.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=11725

All the best,
Astrid
Literature & Latte support team

ar
armand
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Mon Nov 12, 2012 11:37 pm Post

Thanks for the advice !

My best

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jeffmcneill
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Wed Nov 21, 2012 2:06 am Post

Being able to have Scrivener open on two different machines that are using Dropbox for storage, would be amazing. The idea of having the files updated by Dropbox and having any conflicts turn into actionable notifications (Scrivener detects that an update has occurred which is different from the file you are working on). This is not the same level of difficulty of collaboration, but more about synchronization, such as Evernote has. Granted, not an easy task, but would support the reality of multiple devices having access to a set of files, and changes coming from any one of the devices at any given time.

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AmberV
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Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:09 am Post

Well the concept of having what amounts to a multi-user project is something we would like to approach at some point in the future. Even something as "simple" as being able to lock an item in the binder so you can work on while other people are working on other portions of the manuscript, or assistants gathering research for you, would be great. But it's important to understand even these implementations are pretty complicated, and without a very tight integration between everything---they are risky. Using something like Dropbox as a communication medium for this would be very risky. It would be conflicts galore and that's not an experience that anyone wants to have to put up with while they are in the middle of creative work. You don't want to get boxes flying up in your face telling you that the last 500 words you wrote in a moment of inspiration are out of sync with the section because someone else experiencing a network hiccup deleted 120 words, some of which you were amplifying on. Then you have to stop, get out of the flow, and piece together the mess over the phone or what have you. Nor do you want the safer alternative, which is waiting for every item you click on to take 2 or 3 seconds to click as the request travels out, waits for confirmation, is approved, and then granted. What happens if someone uses Scrivenings on "Part I" while someone is editing a scene in chapter 13 of Part I? Stuff like that. These are problems that need solving, they do have complicated solutions, and they have well documented solutions at this point in time. The main problem with implementing any of them is expertise and time. Right now each platform is tended by one to two programmers, and they all spend their time keeping the software tidy with OS updates, and coming out with improvements to suggestions and so on. The rest of us help keep them coding. :) There isn't a lot of slack is what I'm saying. We're having to struggle to find time to do things we know we can do, let alone theoretical things that we know would take a lot of time, and potentially expertise we don't have, to solve them.

This topic comes up now and then, and the answer is always the same: it's not that idea is a bad one. It's a great idea, and I think a collaborative Scrivener would be fantastic and let it creep into areas of use that it currently has trouble approaching, particularly in sciences and business, where the product is a often group effort. So it is something we definitely want to do, and when we can we will look at it seriously.

But as far as in regards to two people editing the same document at once, that will probably always be outside of the realm of reality, unless this type of technology becomes something commonly available to all developers, in the same way that the automatic spellchecking systems we have in Scrivener are, that is. It's easy to forget how many things modern programs are built upon. You go back in seven or ten years and no independent developers had spellchecking. That was the realm of expensive business software or add-on tools made by companies that only did that one thing. Today Scrivener for the Mac can use predictive typing to complete words for you, check your grammar, and even speak your text out loud using a voice that isn't all that half bad. With Windows we have spell checking thanks to the many hundreds if not thousands of volunteers who have pitched in over a decade to make aspell. Even just simple spell checking is a tough thing for one person to sit down and code and that's not even counting up to date dictionaries for dozens of languages (most of which are expensive copyrighted assets). Right now, collaborative editing is like spell checking was 12 years ago. Big companies do it, hundreds of people pooling together do it, but some guy writing a program that solves a niche problem doesn't. Hopefully some day collaborative editing will be the spellchecking of today. A switch in the Edit menu that you flip on. I wouldn't be surprised if it came to that, but until that point its really too big of a problem for indies to tackle and do anything else like write and maintain the program it sits in.
.:.
Ioa Petra'ka
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ar
armand
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Wed Nov 21, 2012 7:40 am Post

Very well put, I get it. Let's hope this "switch" will show up soon !

Best regards

dr
druid
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Thu Nov 22, 2012 3:44 pm Post

I've been exploring the Google Chrome browser and its web services as a way of learning to write on a Chromebook. Chrome has many advantages over Safari, especially in speed and variety of extensions.

I agree with all that's been said about Scrivener and whether it can/not function on the web.

But: Scripito strongly resembles Scrivener, plus has the ability to share and export projects.
And: Google Docs allows sharing, commenting, and collaborative editing of files.
Plus: Google Drive, DropBox, Box, SkyDrive, iCloud, etc are all available as cloud storage.
So: the web services already exist, though they don't auto-synch to/from Scrivener.

Maybe one day they could?

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jeffmcneill
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Mon Nov 26, 2012 5:50 am Post

I still think collaboration is much more difficult to achieve and should not be the initial goal. I've got two computers in the house. If I could have Scrivener open on each and in that moment of inspiration update from one computer and then have the other computer detect the update and insert it (and give a warning if there would be an overwrite), that would add a lot of functionality without requiring support of collaboration.

This already works to some degree with the sync process where I can edit a text file and have the change synced back into Scrivener. The new functionality would be to allow two Scrivener instances with one file set. Or have two different Scrivener .scriv files by a shared Sync folder.

dr
druid
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Mon Nov 26, 2012 11:38 am Post

I collaborate with a writer, who works one floor below.
Here's how we synch Scrivener files:

1. Use the  File: Backup: Backup To... command.
2. Check the "Backup as ZIP file" option.
3. Direct the backup to a cloud folder, like Dropbox, Box, etc
4. Let Scrivener show the date/time of the file in filename.
5. Or not. Click the old filename to get the same one. (System will show date/time.)
6. Save, agreeing to the Replace file query.

The collaborator then replaces the old Scriv file with the latest one.
It's a manual system, but it works well for updating and archiving.

TA
TAnthony
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Fri May 09, 2014 5:33 pm Post

Is zipping the file still the best "workflow" for collaboration with another author in a different location?

dr
druid
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Fri May 09, 2014 9:28 pm Post

TAnthony wrote:Is zipping the file still the best "workflow" for collaboration with another author in a different location?


It's the safest way to back up and share a Scrivener project, especially a large one.

If you only want to share particular files, I recommend using Google Docs.

la
laughfactory
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Tue Aug 12, 2014 5:13 am Post

Yeah, as one poster said, I don't necessarily need full real-time collaboration--just being able to "check in" and "check out" a project would be good enough and being able to store that project on Dropbox. Yes, we can store a project on Dropbox as it is, but there are risks (nay, likelihoods) that one person's file will get overwritten by another person's file. If we could both work on the same file at different times by having some sort of explicit "check in" and "check out" functionality, this would achieve 80-90% of most collaborators needs, I think.

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xiamenese
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Tue Aug 12, 2014 8:42 am Post

[quote="laughfactory”]… If we could both work on the same file at different times by having some sort of explicit "check in" and "check out" functionality, this would achieve 80-90% of most collaborators needs, I think.[/quote]
As someone who has collaborated extensively (according to Jaysen), may I point out that you have that essentially already. When the project is opened, a “User-lock” file is created. If anyone attempts to open it on another computer, an alert comes up saying it is already open and would you like to open a copy — madness lies that way, as your copy and the other copy would differ — so simply click “Cancel” and wait till it has been closed on the other computer.

See viewtopic.php?f=4&t=28339

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