Scriv on iPad, Redux?

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Merovech
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Thu Sep 15, 2011 12:05 am Post

I just saw a graphic today. There are now more tablets and smart phones than PCs today. I know the past stance has been no Scriv on iPad; but if the market is heading that way...is there a possibility to reconsider?

FWIW, I published my novel Scintilla a couple weeks ago. I didn't start the writing on Scriv (I used Textmate), but am working on other books in the series that are all Scriv.

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AmberV
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Thu Sep 15, 2011 12:39 am Post

There are more ballpoint pens on "the market" than mobiles, tablets and computers combined. :)
.:.
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Thu Sep 15, 2011 12:56 am Post

Rocks are free, you fools, and petroglyphs last for centuries. :P
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Merovech
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Sun Sep 18, 2011 2:07 am Post

AmberV wrote:There are more ballpoint pens on "the market" than mobiles, tablets and computers combined. :)


Wow, that's a crude and poor analogy. I appreciate you were trying to be dismissive, but there is a more professional way to respond. (smiley face aside) There's no way to distribute Scrivener on a ballpoint pen.

My point is an apparent trend that the traditional desktop computer is on the decline against other similar options. That would suggest, at some time, that either the desktop would cease to be a profitable platform to distribute Scrivener on, or that Apple will eventually merge the OS used on the desktop with the OS on its mobile offerings.

In either case, Scrivener would need to migrate to remain a viable product. While that may not be the plan in, say, the next year, some thought may be valuably put into considering what in Scrivener's architecture would have to change in anticipation of that shift.

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kewms
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Sun Sep 18, 2011 2:30 am Post

Merovech wrote:My point is an apparent trend that the traditional desktop computer is on the decline against other similar options. That would suggest, at some time, that either the desktop would cease to be a profitable platform to distribute Scrivener on, or that Apple will eventually merge the OS used on the desktop with the OS on its mobile offerings.


You can see the beginning of that migration with Lion, on which Scrivener runs just fine....

The applications that traditionally use desktop machines aren't going to go away. Editing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases are all core tasks for pretty much any business, and all of those tasks require capabilities that resemble desktops and laptops, not tablets or phones.

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KB
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Sun Sep 18, 2011 9:47 am Post

Exactly. A full version of Scrivener could never run on a tablet without the tablet developing all of the functionality of a laptop or desktop. And iOS with all the capabilities of a laptop or desktop is... Mac OS X. I think some users may not realise that tablets are not full computers, but are in many ways more like large smart phones (they're a a hybrid, really, I suppose). Their screens may look invitingly similar to those of netbooks, but they are not capable of running half of the tasks a netbook can run, and nor are they intended to.

And this is why Ioa's analogy is spot-on - a ball-point pen cannot do what a mobile phone or computer can do, but that is not its purpose and no one would expect it to. There are more ball-point pens around because they are generally useful, and easy to carry around. When you say that there are now more smart phones and tablets than laptops and desktops, the figure is misleading because it conflates smart phones - which you would expect to be about as popular as ball-point pens these days - with tablets. There are certainly not more tablets alone than laptops and desktops. These statistics are telling, too - tablets are included with the smart phone figures, because they are more like smart phones than full computers.

I certainly understand some users wanting a stripped-down version of Scrivener for taking notes on their iPads while out and about, so that they can sync back with the full version of Scrivener when they return to their main writing machines, even though I have no interest in the iPad as a writing machine myself (I can't see why anyone would choose to take an iPad with them instead of a MacBook Air, for instance, which is the choice I have). And thus, as it says on our "About" page, we are certainly open to developing an iPad version should we find the right iOS developer to come on board, on the right terms, to work with us and develop it.

But that's a whole different kettle of fish to what you are talking about - you seem to be talking about "porting" Scrivener so that it remains "viable", as though you expect laptops and desktops to die a death and be completely replaced. I expect that tablets will indeed become more popular and that eventually, yes, there may well be more tablets than laptops and desktops - because most casual computer users just write a few emails, update social websites and suchlike and so don't need the bulk that comes with a full keyboard. Like many professionals, however, serious writers - even those who use a tablet for occasional note-taking - are always going to need a machine with a full keyboard (and don't tell me that carrying a separate keyboard along with the iPad is more portable than just taking an MBA), and if they want to bring in research - hundreds of PDF documents, images and suchlike - they will need a larger screen and more power too. And that is where Scrivener fits into the process. If desktops and laptops completely disappeared, then Scrivener would become unviable - it would be a sad day but it's just not the sort of program that would run in its full glory on a tablet. It is designed to take advantage of a full computer; I'd have no interest in dropping the features I wrote it for in the first place just to squeeze some more money out of it. Fortunately, I don't think that will ever happen, as it would be a massive step backwards. There will always be users who need the full power of a desktop or laptop computer (truck-drivers, to paraphrase Mr Jobs), writers among them, and that's why I think all those iPadophones heralding the demise of the desktop and laptop may be premature. (MacBook Air sales have apparently been phenomenal, and the iPad and iPhone have actually increased the number of Mac users rather than reduced it.)

As I say, a stripped-down version is on the cards if we can find the right person, though.

All the best,
Keith
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Sun Sep 18, 2011 1:33 pm Post

KB wrote:As I say, a stripped-down version is on the cards if we can find the right person, though.


Meanwhile, several strong writing apps on the iPad provide good tools for research, drafting, and exporting to a laptop or desktop. Besides SimpleNote, PlainText, and EverNote, I'd recommend Index Card, Notebooks, and the new Writers App. The last one lacks strong export tools (has e-mail only), but it lets you set up notes on plot, characters, places, and chapter elements. An iOS version of Scrivener may not offer much more, given the limitations of iOS.

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Mon Sep 19, 2011 7:29 pm Post

There is a way to use Scrivener with an iPad -- I use Notebooks and edit the Scrivener backup saved on Dropbox (you could use any iPad text editor, but Notebooks is especially nice because it syncs well). Then when I open the doc file on Scrivener, it tells me the files that have changed and offers to change them in the doc. Unfortunately, there seems to be no rtf API for iOS, and there is currently no way I can discover to edit and save a rtf file on the iPad. I'm hoping iOS 5 will change this, but so far I haven't heard anything. It would be virtually impossible to implement a usable version of Scrivener on the iPad without rtf -- my system only allows straight text editing of backed-up docs, so there's no way to specify colors, italics, etc.

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Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:06 pm Post

KB wrote:As I say, a stripped-down version is on the cards if we can find the right person, though


Are you currently "looking" ?

Last I heard (from David in March) was that an iPad version was being worked on, but sidelined until scheduling and/or rtf support made it more viable.

If you are looking to move forwards with this, then I'd still be interesting in discussing your criteria for "right person".

Regards.
Feed me chocolate, I'm developing Scrivener for iOS.

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Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:32 pm Post

Initially Ioa was going to be working on an iPad version, teaching himself Cocoa as he went (he's has various other programming skills). But the rest of his L&L responsibilities are full-time enough - we had initially planned this before 2.0 came out and we announced the Windows version, both of which have expanded our user-base significantly - and he is less enthusiastic than he once was about writing on the iPad, so we're now looking at getting someone else to do it.

The "right person" would be someone willing to work on a profit-share basis (rather than salary), enthusiastic about Scrivener with a sound knowledge of the ins-and-outs of the program, and able to show some talent for coding for the iPad (because it would be a tough challenge); it would also be someone in it for the long-haul. It's difficult, because I have no idea how much profit there would be in an iPad version, but we'd want the lion share. :) While iPadophiles from time to time like to tell us that an iPad version would make us rich, from what I hear from iPad developers, you only make big bucks if you're constantly in the top ten; the profit margin on iOS is much smaller than on OS X and Windows so you have to sell in volume, and we're talking about a fairly niche product...

All the best,
Keith
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Jenny_Y8S
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Wed Sep 21, 2011 10:35 am Post

Well Keith, I'd be very interested in discussing this further. I do believe an iOS version of Scrivener has a lot of potential and I will shortly be focusing all my time back on iOS development. I understand fully the need for profit sharing, and given there are now other iOS + Desktop writing combinations out there I also feel a presence in the tablet space would assist desktop sales (to some impossible to measure degree). This is of course if the mobile version is appropriate for the platform. As you've said, the iPad isn't a laptop so replicating 100% of the desktop software isn't the way to go, but I as a platform I think the form-factor and UX can contribute a great deal to writers / content compilers and as of yet I don't think anyone's really leveraging the iPad correctly.

As you may have gathered, I've already given this quite some thought.

Regards.
Feed me chocolate, I'm developing Scrivener for iOS.

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KB
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Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:06 am Post

Hi Jenny,

Please drop me a line at kb-tech-support AT literatureandlatte DOT com with your thoughts, and also a little about your previous iOS experience, and we can discuss it from there.

Thanks!

All the best,
Keith
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bargonzo
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Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:28 pm Post

Would this be the Holy Grail of iPad app expansion (if it were ever produced)?

http://www.tuaw.com/2011/10/03/run-phot ... -appblast/
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Sun Oct 30, 2011 1:00 pm Post

Can I just add something, as a non-techy who just wants to write?

I have many apps on my iPad2 which are mobile versions of desktop software. They don't offer full functionality, and I wouldn't expect them to. But what they do offer is the ability to synch easily with the desktop app. I said I wasn't techy, so here's what I would expect from a Scrivener for iPad (and to be honest, it is needed with the growth of the tablet industry, Scrivener itself, and the quantity of other apps that do what I am about to write.)

I want to be able to open a Scrivener app, and write. Maybe view my character profiles, save a picture into it if I'm on the go and see something useful. Then I want to be able to synch that to iCloud so I can edit fully on the desktop. That's it. Too many people want it all singing all dancing and practically doing the writing for them. I just want to be able to access the file on both devices. Am I making any sense? iPad is a mobile device, which has far exceeded it's original promises, but it is still mobile... I'm happy to turn on the desktop to write but just want some things to be done on the iPad.

If Notebooks for iPad can be used in conjunction with this, and there is plenty of chat about it on the internet, then the market is there.

The rumour on the iPad forums is that iPad 3 is going to be smaller, lighter, and cheaper... this industry is going to balloon, and I would love to see Scrivener take a piece of that action because they are a hardworking, customer oriented company, like Apple itself.

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Sun Oct 30, 2011 4:58 pm Post

I will second that, but ask that you do it for Android. At the risk of starting an Apple v the world string, Andriod tablets are no longer the other tablet.

I currently compile into a .doc and write in documents to go which syncs through Sugarsync. Then I copy the new text into the scrivener project. The only problem is occasionally the compiled doc won't open in docs to go.