Scrivener for Android?

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simonthepilgrim
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Tue Feb 25, 2014 6:19 pm Post

Dear KB,

As a 70 year-old who has finally got around to working on one of the 5 uncompleted novels I have hanging around, I was introduced to Scrivener about 6 weeks ago. After a brief use of the trial, it became clear that this was both the best tool I could find and, because it is beautiful as well, a daily joy to use.

I shall hope that, when you have completed such a thing to your high standards, an Android version might become available before I achieve Nirvana but, in the interim, when obliged to use my new tablet, I simply resort to a text editor. Returning to my laptop, I simply drag and drop. If an old git (my grandson's description) like myself can do this, who cannot?

More power to your elbow, young sir, and please accept my deep gratitude. You achieve much merit by your efforts.

Simon

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twinkerzzz
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Thu Feb 27, 2014 4:40 pm Post

I'm sorry you wont be prioritising even a stripped down lite version of scrivener for android just so the basic main bell & whistle of scrivener (the ability to write in undefined chunks) can't be achieved on a scrivener file in android for later use on scrivener proper on a pc or laptop. I for one have taken the leap into tablet land and there's no denying a tablet's fantastic portability for the budding write-anywhere kind of person.

Considering the time frame of what looks like a good 2 years before you launch a scrivener for android, and with the current sudden increase in range and significant drop in tablet prices as well as the increase in their popularity i would say your android release time-table is in danger of getting out of sync with trends in technology.

:D Could you not just keep us writers happy with a useful tie-in lite version for the next 24 months which iron out current inelegant methods regarding working between 2 OS platforms ? Surely a lite version of scrivener is possible ? :wink:
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robertdguthrie
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Thu Feb 27, 2014 5:44 pm Post

Take a look at page two of this discussion for a long, involved explanation of how a "lite" version would not work, and therefore will not happen. The tl;dr version: programming is hard, takes a long time, and more developers does not equal faster coding, and the iOS version will be the design template by which the Android version will be created.
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twinkerzzz
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Thu Feb 27, 2014 6:51 pm Post

My experience of the scrivener team is that they generally stick close to their often quite considered position on development.

However from page 2:
kieth:
"You can't just "knock up" good software in a matter of weeks or months, not unless it's a very basic application that just uses stock controls "

with regards page 1:
stupidusATmailDOTcom
"and could just do with a light Android (and WP) app that would have simple split view (enabling adding and arranging text files in the same fashion as in the desktop version) which would go full screen when editing text. That's it."

and lastly back to page 2:
Rayz:
"The mistake you make here is assuming that a bare bones program would satisfy anyone other than yourself. "

Well i for one back exactly what stupidusATmailDOTcom proposes. He's right on the button. An android app - a multiracial adopted son of a half sister once removed version of Scrivener........
- Scrivenoid - scrivtablite - scrivdroid .....which simply allows undefined text arranging - i would even be happy to drop the split screen - just the ability to create a scrivener file output. It's about setting up the psychological and tenuous but important creative link between tablets and pcs / macs.

so a wish list for a first android scrivener lite for me is very simple:
1. just 1 classic typewritter font will be fine
2. basic undefined text capturing and arranging
3. ability to accommodate links and images (because this is a huge part of the tablet thing)
4. one screen able to go full
5. scrivener file output and rtf output (rtf being rather peculiarly catered for on android.)

that's 2 more specifications than stupidusATmailDOTcom's 3, 2 of which i agreed with anyway.

A simple writing capture app. The simplicity is the feature not the hindrance.The quaint dinky tie-in that keeps continuity alive during the waiting period. It could be so simple you could make it free. At least you would have a presence at the android store.

Not a full blown editing and composition app (yet.). I note Scrivener has become something of a gargantuan Photoshop equivalent of writing apps so it doesn't surprise me that the team blows a gasket when asked to blithely knock up a mobile version.

But every time i do a search of the free lite simple writing apps currently at the google store i keep seeing a special place for a lite n easy scrivenoid and i break into a :D - it just seems so right.
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robertdguthrie
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Thu Feb 27, 2014 7:42 pm Post

You're not reading what Keith wrote very carefully; you're picking out only what seems to support your argument. A 'basic' program couldn't interface with Scrivener's file format, nor allow you to edit the documents in it. Your semantics are not going to make the complexity of developing Scrivener for another platform suddenly go poof.

But go ahead and try. I wish you luck. :roll:

twinkerzzz wrote:But every time i do a search of the free lite simple writing apps currently at the google store i keep seeing a special place for a lite n easy scrivenoid and i break into a :D - it just seems so right.

Maybe you should search through the paid apps then.
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kewms
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Fri Feb 28, 2014 8:13 am Post

twinkerzzz wrote:so a wish list for a first android scrivener lite for me is very simple:
1. just 1 classic typewritter font will be fine
2. basic undefined text capturing and arranging
3. ability to accommodate links and images (because this is a huge part of the tablet thing)
4. one screen able to go full
5. scrivener file output and rtf output (rtf being rather peculiarly catered for on android.)


Right. Trivially easy. Knock it together in a weekend.

"Arranging text" is part of the core functionality of Scrivener, and one of the things that sets it apart from other applications. To do it in a Scrivener-compatible way, you pretty much have to have an application that understands the Scrivener project format. So that alone is a significant undertaking. Please do let us know if you find a free application that comes anywhere close to your wish list. For that matter, the Scrivener project format is pretty well documented. Feel free to take a shot at writing such an application yourself.

For what it's worth, the fine folks at DevonTechnologies went the "lite" route, with DevonThink To Go. I love DevonThink; I helped beta test DevonThink To Go. Honestly, it's a disaster. They've basically admitted as much, and I think are effectively throwing it out and starting over.

Katherine
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kewms
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Fri Feb 28, 2014 8:27 am Post

stupidusATmailDOTcom wrote:So, I'd have to disagree here. In this regard at least more developers (another team) would actually have been beneficial if getting the app out in a timely fashion had been your top priority.


Please go read the Mythical Man Month page that Keith linked. The idea that adding people to a late project makes it later has been well-known (and proven over and over again) in software development circles for decades.

Katherine
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pigfender
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Fri Feb 28, 2014 8:47 am Post

kewms wrote:
stupidusATmailDOTcom wrote:So, I'd have to disagree here. In this regard at least more developers (another team) would actually have been beneficial if getting the app out in a timely fashion had been your top priority.


Please go read the Mythical Man Month page that Keith linked. The idea that adding people to a late project makes it later has been well-known (and proven over and over again) in software development circles for decades.

Katherine



I stopped following this thread (indeed, considered cancelling my subscription to the LitNLat newsletter entirely) when KB failed to confirm (despite being prompted) that the "cool and major improvements" for the next upgrade would include Robot Space Pirates. So forgive me if I weigh in here without having read every single post.

It seems to me that our good chum Katherine has succinctly encapsulated the entire point here. In particular, I'd draw attention to the key phrase in the Stupidus quote which underlines the key philosophical difference between the two factions... Getting the app out in a timely fashion is not the top priority; getting the app out in the best possible form is.

Now, this thread is supposed to be all about Scrivener for Androids, so can we please stay on topic and get an answer to the Robot Space Pirate question?!
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Fri Feb 28, 2014 9:29 am Post

kewms wrote:For what it's worth, the fine folks at DevonTechnologies went the "lite" route, with DevonThink To Go. I love DevonThink; I helped beta test DevonThink To Go. Honestly, it's a disaster. They've basically admitted as much, and I think are effectively throwing it out and starting over.
Katherine


I agree - this is the one of the best examples of a `terrible warning' of what comes from acting in relative haste. DT Pro is wonderful and has an excellent reputation and a loyal base; DT to Go is hopeless and has diminished that reputation and done no-one any good. Any programme of complexity suffers the same e.g. Tablet Yojimbo is just a reader, and until recently tablet VDPad was too. Even tablet OF isn't yet a worthy companion to the Mac version ...

I'll start to think there's some unnecessary slacking over at L&L just as soon as there's a tablet Tinderbox.

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KB
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Fri Feb 28, 2014 10:54 am Post

I think I should chime in here, just in case my previous replies seem as though I don't consider an Android app important, that our Windows team is chomping at the bit to create an Android version, as the Windows code base can be ported to Android. In fact, Lee once showed me the full (desktop) Scrivener running on an Android tablet. Of course, it was terrible to use, because the interface is designed for a mouse interface, and there was waaaay too much interface for a tablet, but it was a demonstration that the code base can be used, so we hope that the Android version won't take as long to develop as the iOS version.

I've mentioned elsewhere the problems and mistakes we have made during iOS development. We're a small team and we're not perfect, and I would say that we could have cut a year out of our iOS development had we been more savvy at the time. It's now coming along beautifully, although it's still not a fast process, and we want to get the interface right there before moving on to Android, because of resources. And when I say resources, I don't necessarily mean developers. Creating a new version of Scrivener for a mobile device isn't just about development, it's about the design, and when it comes to the design, the buck still stops with me. (Although Ioa and Tammy have a huge amount of input, as did Jen, our original developer.)

That's the thing - we don't have whole teams or creatives with flowcharts showing how this or that should be done, but just me and a couple of others putting together designs and then testing the heck out of everything that is done and refining the design. Which means we have to get one mobile version right before we pass on the design to the team that will be creating the Android version, otherwise we'd be feeling our way through two versions and taking up twice as much time for both teams as they had to rewrite or refine what didn't work.

Now, as for making a simplified app, this has already been discussed above, and I think Katherine hit the nail on the head - maybe some users would be happy with this, but for many it would be a huge let-down. They'd see the name Scrivener and expect so much more. Even if that weren't the case, a simplified app would be more work than you think. Just in order to write and read the .scriv file format, it would need to know about the entire binder and corkboard structure. It would need to be able to write and read the comment and footnotes information. It would need a custom text editor that is capable of dealing with comments, footnotes, inline annotations, images. It would need a different interface for dealing with all of these things, too - popups for comments and footnotes and so on. Then, if you could write in chunks, it would need some navigator for these chunks - it would need, in fact, the binder. But if the binder is there, then what about all those image files and other research files in the binder - it would be weird not to be able to open those.

When you put it all together, all that would be missing from any hypothetical simplified app would be the corkboard and inspector. But if the inspector wasn't there, then you wouldn't be able to edit your synopses or titles (because on a mobile device you need to drill down from the outliner rows and don't edit them in situ). So you'd need the inspector... Meaning that all that would be left out is the corkboard. So as soon as you work out what would be needed for a simplified app that could still work with a .scriv file, it actually needs pretty much everything except the corkboard. So you put that together, and users download it and ask, "Hey, where's the corkboard? This is rubbish!"

simonthepilgrim - thank you for the very kind words! I hope Scrivener helps you complete one of those five novels.

All the best,
Keith
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pigfender
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Fri Feb 28, 2014 11:25 am Post

There's your headline, folks:
Literature and Latte CEO refuses to rule out
Robot Space Pirates from future updates
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Fri Feb 28, 2014 1:39 pm Post

pigfender wrote:Literature and Latte CEO refuses to rule out
Robot Space Pirates from future updates
Careful there Piggy baby! :shock: Young Kevin and his team of Mods, have been known, in the past, to have 'RULED OUT' certain irritant members of the crew. I can't vouch for it being a quick and/or painless process though. Obviously, I don't belong to the 'vulnerable/at risk', category of crew members.
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twinkerzzz
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Fri Feb 28, 2014 1:47 pm Post

so i re-quote my own previous "symantics":

"My experience of the scrivener team is that they generally stick close to their often quite considered position on development."

"it doesn't surprise me that the team blows a gasket when asked to blithely knock up a mobile version."

There's no point flaming contributors to this discussion. (Bar Kieth who manages as ever to keep a convivial head.) Users of Scrivener are most probably generally not software programmers and so education and communication goes much further in helping scrivener users to understand why things happen the way they do.

To summarise the over all reply to the request as i understand it so far :

As i already stated and acknowledged in what i regard as a fair and reasonable post - the position regarding the full blown scrivener version for android is already clearly stated in this post. It's happening ! (Good!) It's going to take time. (Understood and reasons explained)

The position regarding a stripped out android lite app to cover the 18-24 month wait was not so clearly conveyed. It's still not entirely past the post in my mind,, though perhaps nearly as good as.

The strongest reason for why a lite android wont be happening is stated page 4 - Dr Dog
regarding Devon think - Here he explains his own involvement in exactly such an app and how it didn't work because it appears to have served no purpose as an app and because it also damaged the reputation of a respectable piece of software.

The second strongest reason is stated page 4 Kewms and in part previously Keith- who at least to some extent explains that the basic binder mechanism as well as the ability to save to scrivener file format are far from simple short term work activities. However he stops short of indicating the timeframe required to develop an app that could only do have those abilities.

I'm sure others will see more reasons but im not aiming to be comprehensive here.

So there are 2 requests kicking around this thread. One for the full blown (already covered) and one for the stripped down (getting there) So there's alot of white noise here too. It's not unreasonable for S users to make a request for a stripped down android app - For certain users there is an articulated logic for that and Keith acknowledged that demand exists. 2 examples of stripped down features were offered and they were exactly that - maximum features of 3-5. In Keith's last post he numbered 11 or so. So the debate shifted to who thinks what is meant by stripped down because it was clear we weren't thinking about it in similar ways at all.

I still support the case for a stripped down app or portable add-on which isn't called scrivner but something else like scrivenoid. I still think as a basic writing capture tool which can save to scrivner file BUT not a composition and editing tool - such a call has it's uses. I still think that tablet culture has exploded over the winter of 2013-14 so calls for a S android presence is likely to increase over the 24 months not recede and meanwhile issues for writers who now work between different platforms will continue to raise ideas about a nifty app that can help facilitate docs created on tablets so they are scrivener ready. I don't think that's unreasonable of users - i think it's logical and it reflects the change in technology writers use.I don't personally see a lite android app as competing with scrivener but rather as acting as a portable bolt on for those who already use scrivener. I think a lite android between now and the full blown release date wouldn't serve as a universal stripped down app but rather a specialist add-on for those already in the know and negotiating these issues. So the way im beginning to look at that is totally different to the view of it representing scrivener itself. I'm only getting to that perspective being able to discuss it here. I like that shift - a temporary portable plug in set. Even if you don't do it - it's a cool idea. You shouldn't knock it and it reflects your customers needs very pertinently.

Finally i do get the counterpoint to that demand in all your very reasonably stated concerns about the app serving no purpose, being misunderstood, damaging your reputation, still being very time consuming and impractical to produce. However it's most probably best that this thread remains in the forums so others like me speculating about the whys and wherefores of this issue can understand why the 18-24 months approach to scrivener being released on android may be a frustrating experience which will require 3rd party work-arounds because for reasons made clear no such facilitation occurred via L&L.

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Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:12 pm Post

twinkerzzz wrote:there's alot of white noise here too.

I'm not just being random. It's satire.

It's supposed to subtly imply that every party seems to be very well aware of the positions of the other side, that a decision has clearly been taken that isn't going to be changed by continued discussion, and that every time the powers-that-be have to craft a long response re-iterating this it delays all the other things they could be doing towards the ongoing development and support of Scrivener, Scapple, and Scotoma (their new software which blocks out all distractions and allows the writer to focus on just the task at hand).
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Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:42 pm Post

erm sorry i didnt quite get the drift.

white noise is part of what happens when discussion occurs. Nobody has absolute positions - we're all just making noise - communicating. It's always hit and miss.

Personally, i think it's unavoidable and ubiquitously a part of the creativity of software culture that users who know no better will need to let off hot air and float ideas and responses. Forums catch that material. You can see it as an infernal repetitious demand or a pool of interesting feedback. Whichever, It wont stop happening. If it's a drain on your time you'll need to manage how & when you read the forums.

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