Syncing between Mac and Scrivener for iOS BEFORE having Scrivener for iOS

Ug
UgoM
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Sat Jul 16, 2016 8:09 am Post

I have this problem: I'm writing a novel with Scrivener for Mac (and keeping it synced with my iPad via Dropbox and PlainText, working but tricky). I've been waiting for years for Scrivener for iOS...
I've downloaded Scrivener 2.8, I'm ready to download Scrivener for iOS but... next wednesday I'm leaving for a ten days vacation!
So, how can I prepare my novel on Dropbox in order to have it ready for my iPad when I'm far from my Mac?
I've created a folder "Scrivener" in Dropbox-Apps, then I've synced the novel into it... is that enough?
Please, help...
Ugo
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KB
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Sat Jul 16, 2016 10:00 am Post

Hi,

You don't need to have your project in /Dropbox/Apps/Scrivener, but that is the default, so ti sounds as though you're all set. Basically:

1. Put any projects you want to sync in a subfolder of Dropbox somewhere.

Er, that's it. :) When you download the iOS version, you just choose the folder on Dropbox where you placed the projects, and it will sync. The iOS version defaults to /Dropbox/Apps/Scrivener, but you can choose any folder on Dropbox if you want (it's just recommended that you only have Scrivener projects in that folder, because it will download to your device everything in the selected folder).

All the best,
Keith
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UgoM
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Sat Jul 16, 2016 10:43 am Post

Thank you very much! :D
Only one more question: when you say "put any project into a subfolder" you mean I have to save a project there or sync it?
If I save (File -> Save) my project into the folder I find a file *.scriv, if I sync (File -> Sync -> With External folder) my project I have a folder called Draft, containing a bunch of txt files. Which is right?
Thanks again
Ugo
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making other plans" - John Lennon

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KB
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Sat Jul 16, 2016 10:46 am Post

Sync wth External folder is an entirely different feature - that's for using Scrivener with other apps. Don't use that. Just move your actual .scriv project into the Dropbox subfolder.
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UgoM
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Sat Jul 16, 2016 11:20 am Post

Thank you again :D
Ugo
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"Life is what happens to you while you're busy
making other plans" - John Lennon

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especiale
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Sat Jul 16, 2016 7:13 pm Post

Some questions. I have a project inside a folder that contains the .scriv project and some folders with inside "Research Files as Aliases". These folders contain pdfs or that are about 30 mega each and few jpeg. Questions:

1. Would it be better to have real files not as aliases inside the Scrivener project? And have one single .scriv file?
2. Or should I keep the folder structure inside Dropbox?
3. In this case, the path of the folder could it be Dropbox/Apps/XXFolder/xxx.scriv+pdfs folders?
4. In this case, what about if I wish to have multiple projects inside different folders? Should I tell Scrivener for iOs to point to different .scriv projects inside different folders? Is this possible?

I hope that my questions are clear! Any help would be appreciated…

Thanks for your wonderful work!
ES

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xiamenese
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Sat Jul 16, 2016 8:29 pm Post

Hi, especiale.

For the reasons Keith has given, you shouldn't have Scrivener for iOS pointing to a folder on Dropbox that has a lot of non .scriv projects in it, as they will fill up the limited memory of your iOS device, even though they are inaccessible on that device. Also, as I understand it—and in my experience—Scrivener for iOS can only link to a single folder on Dropbox, so all the projects you want to work on with Scrivener on your iOS device will "have to be" in that folder.

That said, assuming that folder is the default ~/Dropbox/Apps/Scrivener/ folder, within that you can create separate folders for each of your projects, and Scrivener for iOS will sync with them and they will appear as if they were in the parent folder ... you won't see the folder hierarchy. That would be fine, with the caveat of not having loads of non-Scrivener files in there. But there is another solution.

I said "have to be" within quotes, but there is a way round that if, like for me, some of your projects have to be elsewhere on your HD; in my case, projects on which I collaborate with friends in China have to be in Cubbies as Dropbox is blocked by the GFWoC. The solution is to put a symlink to each of the projects you need to work on on your iOS device into the designated Dropbox folder. So, in my case, the projects are in Cubbies and ~/Dropbox/Apps/Scrivener/ only contains symlinks to them. Having been part of the Beta testing team since the beginning, I have had no problem working like that, and my collaborators in China have been able to access our shared projects as normal.

HTH :)

Mark
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de
derick
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Sat Jul 16, 2016 10:11 pm Post

The solution is to put a symlink to each of the projects you need to work on on your iOS device into the designated Dropbox folder. So, in my case, the projects are in Cubbies and ~/Dropbox/Apps/Scrivener/ only contains symlinks to them. Having been part of the Beta testing team since the beginning, I have had no problem working like that, and my collaborators in China have been able to access our shared projects as normal.


Wait....you create the symlinks on the Mac, but do they work when a device accesses your Dropbox folder via an iOS device? I get that they would resolve if you opened that Dropbox folder via the Mac filesystem, but they wouldn't work via direct access to Dropbox, right?

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KB
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Sat Jul 16, 2016 10:22 pm Post

especiale - my advice would be to have your research files in a parallel folder (this may require re-importing them as aliases, of course, since moving them will break the alias link to them). E.g.:

/Dropbox/Research/ - PDF files etc
/Dropbox/Writing/ - Your Scrivener files.

Then you sync the /Dropbox/Writing folder with Dropbox. This way, all those alias files are available on the Mac but not taking up room on iOS.

derick - that's right. Aliases point to a particular path, so if you import research files as aliases on your Mac, they will not show up in the iOS version, and you'll just get a little icon telling you that the file can't be opened in iOS.

If you want files available on iOS, they will need to be inside the project and not aliases.

All the best,
Keith
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xiamenese
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Sun Jul 17, 2016 8:07 am Post

derick wrote:
The solution is to put a symlink to each of the projects you need to work on on your iOS device into the designated Dropbox folder. So, in my case, the projects are in Cubbies and ~/Dropbox/Apps/Scrivener/ only contains symlinks to them. Having been part of the Beta testing team since the beginning, I have had no problem working like that, and my collaborators in China have been able to access our shared projects as normal.


Wait....you create the symlinks on the Mac, but do they work when a device accesses your Dropbox folder via an iOS device? I get that they would resolve if you opened that Dropbox folder via the Mac filesystem, but they wouldn't work via direct access to Dropbox, right?

They absolutely do work. I have been working on some four or five projects on my iPad Air 2 by this method. The only actual Scriv projects in my ~/Dropbox/Apps/Scrivener folder are two projects that I set up related to Beta testing Scrivener for iOS. All the others are symlinks to the actual projects in two different Cubbies. If I put those projects in a Dropbox folder, my collaborators in China would not be able to access them, but by using symlinks, on my iPad Air they behave exactly like the two Beta-testing projects and I can work on them absolutely normally. Here's screenshot of Scrivener for iOS on my iPad Air and a screenshot of a finder window on the Dropbox folders on my Mac, and if you look carefully, only "Scrivener.scriv" and "Test.scriv" have the normal project icon, the others have the symlink icon. (NB where attachments get placed in this new forum is more opaque than it was in the old forum!)

How it works under the hood, I don't know. I'm not sure that I could open them by going to Dropbox on my iPad, choosing them to say "Open in …", but as far as Scrivener for iOS is concerned, they are just normal projects. Mind you, not knowing how it works under the hood, it is possible there could be issues I don't know about or which haven't surfaced so far for me. A more geeky guru than me might have some knowledge worth sharing on that. So, if you want to try it, I'd recommend you start by using a symlink to a copy of any major project until you're sure you're not going to hit any problem; my projects are pretty simple, though they may contain many documents in the Draft. My research folders are virtually empty, and I don't have images, either embedded directly or as aliases, so I don't know if that would cause a problem.

Mark
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The Scrivenato sometimes known as Mr X.
rMBP 13" (early 2015) 10.14.5, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSID
MBP17" (late 2011) 10.13.6, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSID
2017 iPad, iOS 12.3.1, 128GB, Apple Pencil
Scrivener, Scapple, Nisus Writer Pro, Bookends …

es
especiale
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Sun Jul 17, 2016 9:51 am Post

This is interesting. For Symlinks do you mean Aliases? If this is the case, we could keep our original (real) files on our hard drive and instead put an alias in the Dropbox folder. Is this right? I doubt… We will see!

Thanks
Emilio Speciale

PS and thanks Keith for the previous clarifying answer!

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mijalce
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Sun Jul 17, 2016 1:36 pm Post

I am using MacDropAny (http://www.zibity.com/macdropany.html) to have the (original/real) files on my hard disk and put them on Dropbox. As such is fully synced on Dropbox. I have not tested this with Scrivener for iOS, because I am not a beta tester, but it should function.
All the best,
Mijalche

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derick
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Sun Jul 17, 2016 2:34 pm Post

@xiamenese what happens if you try to view the aliased files from the Dropbox web interface?

@mijace MacDropAny deals with a situation where you want to symlink from other directories on the Mac to Dropbox, i.e. the actual files are in Dropbox but linked from elsewhere in the file system. If I understand @xiamenese correctly, this is the reverse -- there are symlinks in Dropbox but the actual files are elsewhere on the Mac (in the folders synced with Cubby). What I don't get is how or why Dropbox would be able to access the latter files. It seems to me there are two scenarios: 1) DB is actually storing them remotely in the DB folder, even though it shows them as aliases or 2) DB is recreating the file system (i.e. creating folders outside of the ~/Dropbox/ tree) on its servers.

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mijalce
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Sun Jul 17, 2016 2:57 pm Post

in my case. I use MacDropAny and this is the situation:
- my files are on my hard disk
- in Finder ~/Dropbox the files are seen but are not stored
- on Dropbox web the files that are in Finder ~/Dropbox are physically uploaded and present on Dropbox servers.

When I edit/add/delete a file (folder) through web or on my iOS Dropbox app it is synced with my files on my hard disk. The change is seen in Finder ~/Dropbox, but is not stored.

Hope it helps

de
derick
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Sun Jul 17, 2016 3:10 pm Post

Well here's what's going on, from my testing:

1) created a symlink from test.jpg in Dropbox on Mac 1 to original.jpg on Mac 1

2) viewed it on iOS, Dropbox web, and Mac 2. In all three cases, Dropbox had a copy of test.jpg , not a symlink

3) edited it on Mac 2.

4) viewed it on iOS, Dropbox web, and Mac 2. In all three cases, Dropbox had a copy of test.jpg , not a symlink, reflecting the changes in step 3

5) viewed it on Mac 1. Dropbox had replaced the symlink with a copy of the edited version of test.jpg . The file original.jpg in contrast was unchanged (whereas if I had edited test.jpg on Mac 1, the changes would have been reflected in original.jpg).

6) viewed it on the Dropbox web interface -- I could restore the copy that I saw in step 2, but not the symlink

Conclusion:
* creating a symlink in Dropbox leads to the linked files being copied to Dropbox, although it will still appear as a symlink on the filesystem on which the link was created
* if any changes are made to the Dropbox copies via another Dropbox client, the symlinks will be overwritten (even on the originating filesystem), and the original files won't be changed, only the Dropbox copies

This seems like a recipe for getting stuff out of sync, and potential data loss (or at least messy processes of manually reconstruction). If the stuff that you're symlinking from Dropbox will be read-only, it would probably work, but as soon as you change anything (via any Dropbox client other than the original) you'd lose the link.