More news and info about iOS version

mi
mikefulton
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Sat Jan 25, 2014 1:39 am Post

I really like Scrivener but I need a solution where I can go seamlessly back and forth between my MacBook Pro and my iPad with the same document. I need to be able to SAVE from my MacBook Pro, jump out the door with my iPad and while I'm out and about, open an app and start writing on the same document. As much as I like using it, I simply can't do that with Scrivener right now.

I started using Scrivener in large part because we were told an iOS version was imminent. That was well over two years ago. How much longer do we have to wait? Actually, that question reveals the larger problem. It's not just that the iOS version isn't out, it's that we have no reliable and timely information about the status of the project.

Right now, the most recent bit of info in the forums I can find is over 3 months old. The last blog entry with any information over 9 months old. I have no idea if the iOS release is expected to happen next week or if we're looking at 2015.

Why is there no section on the forum dedicated to news and updates regarding the iOS version? Seriously, if there can be a "Scrivener for Linux" section of the forum, why not a "Scrivener for iOS" section?

I understand delays in development, I really do. But I can't help wondering if the delay for the iOS version is because you're being too ambitious about what needs to be in a 1.0 release. I don't know about other users, but for me the main concern is simply being able to work with my documents and go back and forth seamlessly. I could live without things like cork boards and index cards in a 1.0 release and I'd bet you'd find that a lot of your other customers would tell you the same thing.

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KB
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Sat Jan 25, 2014 2:12 am Post

The iOS version is in development and will be out this year (no fixed date). There is no news because we'll only start talking about it when it is nearer to completion (which isn't to say it's not a good way along). While you may want only this or that feature, you have to remember that you are not the only user and others may have different expectations. As with all software, and as we explain on our About page, you should only buy based on what is currently available. It is already possible to sync with iOS apps using folder sync, but if you require full, native iOS syncing *right now* then obviously you should use something else since we have not announced a release date for our iOS version and won't be for a while yet.

We've explained the reasons for the delays in development elsewhere, but it is not over-ambitious -what many don't understand is just how deep Scrivener is and so even a basic iOS app that can do a fraction of what the desktop version can do is a lot of work - although the iOS version is shaping up amazingly.

There will be more news when we are ready to share what we've been working on - it would be frustrating for users if we kept on about it months ahead of release.

Thanks for your interest in the iOS version. Let me reiterate that if you only want text sync that is already possible using the very useful folder sync feature.
"You can't waltz in here, use my toaster, and start spouting universal truths without qualification."

mi
mikefulton
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Sat Jan 25, 2014 4:47 am Post

Keith, I didn't mean to indicate that I only wanted this feature or that feature. The reference to cork boards and index cards was merely an example. The point was that I would be perfectly happy with a fairly minimal feature set in the initial release.

it would be frustrating for users if we kept on about it months ahead of release.


Dude, that ship has sailed, been around the world a few times and is now on its fourth trip through the Panama Canal. Right now it's the LACK of news that's most frustrating. I'm not looking for details of how feature XXX will work, or if feature YYY is included... I just wanna know you guys are still cranking away and making progress.

Have you ever had a conversation on the phone where the other guy hasn't said anything for awhile, and it's so quiet that eventually you start to wonder if maybe the connection was dropped? That's where we're at. This thread's purpose is basically me saying, "Hey man, you still there?"

Ph
Philipp
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Sat Jan 25, 2014 10:15 am Post

mikefulton wrote:Have you ever had a conversation on the phone where the other guy hasn't said anything for awhile, and it's so quiet that eventually you start to wonder if maybe the connection was dropped? That's where we're at. This thread's purpose is basically me saying, "Hey man, you still there?"


Now this perfectly describes my feelings, too. A constant flow of wip-infos would be lovely.

And nobody said, that it absolutely had to be the final and perfect version from the beginning. As longs as it doesn't eat up words it should be ok ;) You know, keep it agile and WAGNIN (We ain't gonna need it now) and LIG (Later is great) and KIC (Keep it coming).

Cheers
Philipp

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KB
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Sat Jan 25, 2014 10:54 am Post

Well, as I say, we most certainly are still cranking away at it and it is coming along nicely, although there's still plenty to do. We would have said that development had stopped if that were the case. I don't really see the point of saying, "Hey, we're still working on it!" every month.

As for a minimal feature set, well, everyone will give a different answer as to what they consider minimal based on their usage of the program. We've had just as many users say they "just" want to be able to restructure their projects on the go using the corkboard or outliner as we have had users asking for "just" basic text editing. Minimal for one set of users will be pointless for another. Which isn't to say that we are trying to include everything and the kitchen sink, but we are building in the core features and creating Scrivener for iOS here, not just another text editor that happens to sync better with Scrivener.

Even if we had chosen to make it incredibly basic, having it sync with Scrivener's complex project structure and file format would have been a considerable task.

Believe me, we are as anxious to release the iOS version as anybody. And I understand that it's difficult for users to understand just how much time it can take to develop (what I hope is) good software (for instance, the text editor alone has constituted over three months' work - subclassing the standard text editor to support comments and footnotes etc, post-processing Apple's RTF converters to support these features and images, creating a customisable keyboard row giving easy access to punctuation, formatting and better text navigation, getting the icons designed for all these actions, testing and refining all of this). It's easy to say we should just get it out and do more later, but do you really want us to skip the weeks spent testing, breaking, bug-fixing each feature added, for instance? So, yes, we'd love to have it with you right now, and it's frustrating that we lost nearly a year of development as explained elsewhere, and we've certainly made mistakes and learned things along the way, but we'll have more news when it is closer to release.

(In retrospect, it would have been better if we had never announced we were working on it until we were nearly finished, but it wouldn't have made much difference; whereas now we are bombarded with questions about when it will be finished, previously we were bombarded with requests for us to develop an iOS version and emails expressing frustration that we didn't seem to be doing so.)
"You can't waltz in here, use my toaster, and start spouting universal truths without qualification."

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ptram
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Sat Jan 25, 2014 3:30 pm Post

OK, no more questions on why the iOS version is not out yet, and when it will.
But, Keith, may you please tell us something about the upgrade path to Scrivener for iOS version 2? :P

Paolo

dr
druid
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Sat Jan 25, 2014 3:47 pm Post

I hate to say it, folks,
but starting threads like this
is a waste of time.
Especially of Keith's.

He should hang out
a permanent sign:
It will be ready
when it's ready

And not
before.

After all,
he owns
the place.

Ph
Philipp
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Sat Jan 25, 2014 4:21 pm Post

True, true, true, but it's sooo difficult to not react when wiggling around in front of hungry donkeys with some tasty carrots.

So either feed them poor starving donkeys from time to time or keep all carrots out of sight.

Everything other than that is pure torture, abuse, cruelty...

Hee-haw...

lo
lolajl
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Sun Jan 26, 2014 12:27 am Post

Let me chime in as tech director for a social network site that we run - we developed a very simple mobile app and it is not easy work, even when using a framework. And, then there are the hoops that one has to jump through with Apple to get an iOS app accepted. I'm guessing L&L has to plan for that in their development timetable, and Apple reviews can either be short, or extremely long with them coming back with "no, you need to change this or that before we'll approve this". THAT is why L&L is not able to give you a timetable because they don't know how long the approval process will take.

ma
marcoiac
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Sun Jan 26, 2014 2:42 am Post

I think L&L has been very clear on the following:

1. They are working on iScriv
2. It'll be released one day
3. They do not know when
4. They cannot even predict a ballpark timeline

What's the point of these posts requesting 'more information' or complaining about the fact that iScriv is not out yet? More useful posts are about *current* methods to work on your Scrivener projects with your iPad. As Keith said, to do so you only need to sync with an external folder. That's it. If you want to keep the RTF format, your only current option on the iPad is Textile. If you sync in plain text there is a plethora of options. I do use plain text (but admittedly my use of Scrivener is as if I am using a plain text editor). I like Editorial best, but find both Byword and 1Writer pretty good. There are many other options, including Daedalus Touch and IA Writer.

EDIT: I forgot to mention Drafts, which is an excellent iOS writing app. It doesn't sync with Dropbox, but you can import from and export to Dropbox
Last edited by marcoiac on Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Philipp
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Sun Jan 26, 2014 9:14 am Post

Editorial is great. It has become my most beloved editor on the iPad.

iScriv? cool now we have a name :mrgreen:

Tu
Turgon
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Sun Jan 26, 2014 3:21 pm Post

It must be a blessing to have created such amazing software (not saying this lightly, because its invaluable to me) and a curse to be the one to field questions about when the next version will come out.

Its so good, having it be portable and reliable and safe makes people a bit nutty with anticipation.

How does one small group achieve so much? I can't wait to buy Scrivener iOS mainly to support the entire Scrivener project.

sp
spankybus
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Thu Jan 30, 2014 5:42 pm Post

Been watching threads like this for awhile now and do not post very often. But Keith made a few comments that I'd like to respond to, as a User and a program manager for simulation software.


Specifically, to Keith's comment, "I don't see the point of posting 'we're still working on it. every month." and the follow up regarding the constant influx of emails asking when it will be ready.

First, the OP is right on one point...the ship really has sailed regarding the development of an iOS version and peoples expectations. the influx of emails you referred to and threads such as this confirm it. You stated you don't see the point in posting progress to your users. This is probably because you are neck-deep in the development process, know exactly whats going on and have no way to understand why all these people just can't wait for it to release.

Well, lets put you in their shoes for a bit. Lets say you hand off development of iScrivener and have no involvement in the process. Lets say days, weeks and months go by without any updates what-so-ever. As a PM, I'd be livid and looking for a replacement. I can't not know whats going on with my software, i own it damn it! :-) But that's us, the developer and manager of a project. We're paying for the work that's being done and are entitled to news.

What you may or may not understand, is that for many of your users, Scrivener is a kind of club. Its an amazing program for writing and not as many people know about it who should. So like being the cool kids at the concert of the band no one has heard of but soon will, they have a chip on their shoulder about it. "Have you heard of this program, its way better than Word, you have to try it." .."Bitches, please...I've been using scrivener for years, BEFORE it was trendy." They have taken almost cult-like ownership of it. I see it anytime I speak to other writers when I say I started using scrivener...some of them suddenly look at me like I am finally human. its really bizarre.

Are they entitled to do this...certainly not. But is it really in your best interest to shut them down? Like it or not, you are the head of a cult! A subculture revolving around writing software. Maybe you didn't wanna be, but you are...your fans have taken ownership of your program without your permission...kind of like Star Wars fans. Maybe you don't understand their needs for updates, but I think it really spills into the desire to feel 'Involved' in the development process of this tool they have come to claim.

My lame advice, for whatever its worth, is to go ahead and post a monthly blog on what yal are up to, tell some fun development anecdotes, show a few screenshots, all with the caveat that its WIP and subject to change. At no point will you say when its going to release, just show what yal are up to...keep your cult involved, don't over hype it, don't deflate it, just maintain it. I'd bet that the influx of mail will fall off, as will posts like this. You would actually spend less time addressing the issue and more time where its needed...in development.

While this may sound like a waste of time to you, and given that it does nothing towards development, I can understand why you'd think that. But it is 2 things for you...a bit of marketing....and two, the amount of effort you spend in forums posting on threads just like this probably equals more time than the blog would take you. Now, you have something to point your iOS fans towards:

"Where are we, what we're doing, Ugg, you won't believe what happened this month, etc etc."


Hell, you might even come to enjoy sharing the experience with your worshipers :-)

Signed-
nobody :P

Jo
Jordi Mora

Thu Jan 30, 2014 6:00 pm Post

I think it's probably right to say that Scrivener has a kind of `club' status - and like other such software - Tinderbox for example - it generates a nice sense of camaraderie among users and loyalty to the product and the producer. That's what I've been seeing in the more measured posts here. The petulant posts are actually in the minority.
Last edited by Jordi Mora on Thu Jan 30, 2014 7:50 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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KB
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Thu Jan 30, 2014 7:24 pm Post

spankybus wrote:This is probably because you are neck-deep in the development process, know exactly whats going on and have no way to understand why all these people just can't wait for it to release.


No, I totally understand why people can't wait for it to be released. But we most definitely will not be posting lots of information about what is going into the program or what we are working on now, not so many months before release. The time to do that is shortly before release. All we have said so far is that we are working on it, and that's all we are prepared to divulge until it's closer to release. This isn't out of meanness or disrespect for our users, but because there is nothing worse than developers going on and on about a product that isn't even close to being released. It's frustrating for users - even more so than not hearing enough - and over-hypes the product. It's also much more difficult to develop software when parts of it are being scrutinised publicly. All this stuff about "that ship having sailed" is nonsense, because we haven't done anything so far other than announce that we are working on it and that it has taken a lot longer than we hoped.

We're paying for the work that's being done and are entitled to news.


No one has paid for the iOS version yet because it is not on sale. No one is "entitled" to news about what is happening with it any more than they are "entitled" to know what we'll be putting into Scrivener 3.0 or what top-secret products Apple are working on. The only thing users of software are entitled to is to expect bug fixes for problems in software they have paid good money for and decent support from the developers.

Are they entitled to do this...certainly not. But is it really in your best interest to shut them down?


I'm not comfortable with the "cult" comparison, but I do understand that we have a loyal following and am very grateful for it. I'm not shutting anybody down, though. We're very open about how development on Scrivener works (see the About page) - namely, we develop the program we want to use primarily, and users should purchase based on what the software can do *now*. If an iOS version is crucial to your daily routine - well, don't buy Scrivener. Check it out again later in the year if you're still not happy with the writing software you use.

We take into consideration many user requests and evolve the software based on user feedback - which is of course incredibly valuable - but the software has never been user-driven in the sense of it being software-by-committee that gets features added based on how many votes there are for this or that feature. That's not how we work and nor is it how we would want to work, and also I don't believe that would lead to quality software.

My lame advice, for whatever its worth, is to go ahead and post a monthly blog on what yal are up to, tell some fun development anecdotes, show a few screenshots, all with the caveat that its WIP and subject to change.


Posting screenshots long before release is a really bad idea. It's the beginning of hype for the product and despite whatever you may or may not believe, we have not in any way started to hype the iOS version. We have simply said that we are developing it. Any hype surrounding it is because of our fantastic enthusiastic users looking forward to getting their hands on it. Contrary to your belief, posting screenshots will only increase the number of emails we receive asking about when it is released, because screenshots will give the impression that it is closer to being ready than it is (no matter what we say). We know this from experience - any minor updates we post cause an increase in support traffic.

While this may sound like a waste of time to you, and given that it does nothing towards development, I can understand why you'd think that. But it is 2 things for you...a bit of marketing....and two, the amount of effort you spend in forums posting on threads just like this probably equals more time than the blog would take you.


It's not that I think it's a waste of time - I have never, ever considered communication with users a waste of time as many forumites will tell you. We have a support team in place these days so there is no reason for me to read or post on these forums at all any more - I could just leave our support team to deal with the forum and pass on to me anything I need to know. But that's never how I've been interested in working; I much prefer communicating with customers personally, even when they are posting demands or telling us that we don't know how to run our own business (not that you are doing that). No, it's not that it would be a waste of time so much as that it would be counter-productive. It would increase the number of emails we receive and also, we have no interest in marketing a product that does not exist yet. That begins a few weeks before we know it will be released.

The iOS version is shaping up incredibly. I would absolutely love to boast about all the things we've been putting into just the rich text editor over the past few months, and just how much it is capable of (thanks to iOS 7.0 providing the TextKit, we've been able to use the extensive - if I do say so myself - knowledge of the Cocoa NSText system that I have learned over the last few years). I'd love to show you why I think it is going to be one of the best rich text editors available on iOS, let alone all the other features you only get with Scrivener. But now's not the time for that. I don't want to show you how cool our editor is when you might not get to use it for six months or more (during which time, other editors could use some of the ideas we showed, of course). We understand the impatience of our users and are grateful for it, and we will show all of this stuff - but all in good time.

We choose to develop our iOS version behind closed doors and only reveal it when we are ready, and we ask that users respect that and to trust us that we know what we're doing. I hope that the evolution of Scrivener over the years shows that we are not clueless. :)
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