Scrivener, my blogging companion

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werebear
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Thu Nov 22, 2007 6:34 pm Post

Blogging is writing, after all, so it was natural for me to turn to Scrivener when I started my blog. I just didn't expect for it to show as many uses!

When Blogger (hey, I liked the price :) acts wonky, I can grab what I've written so far and tuck it into Scrivener. I plant seeds for future posts into Scrivener and can expand them with their HTML code, knowing they will get backed up with my usual procedures.

I can archive with the Import a Web Page feature, always a tricky thing with a blog.

But perhaps the biggest thing was the way the blog itself has transformed the writing process for this non-fiction book, my first. I thought 75,000 words would cover the territory I had mapped out, but within a few weeks of posting, I discovered I was wrong. I had the words, but more and more I'm convinced they were not always the right ones.

There's the feedback from readers, which is a rare thing to get from a work in progress. There's the increased research from things I figured I would get to in second draft, and indeed I am. But there's also an increased recognition of how much is out there on the web, how it's organized, and how much hunger for information is still floating around like Freudian anxiety.

Writing shorter, pithier posts on subjects of interest has revamped my whole outlook on the book. I knew it needed a second draft, things always do, but this second draft has expanded into whole new countries I hadn't imagined.

I'm looking at the book in a whole new way, and when I'm done and ready for shopping it around, I think it will bring to the table not just an audience, but a sharpened point of view.

Blogging is an extraordinary way to connect with present and future readers. But it's become a lesson in the role of books in the Information Age, and how books still have compelling things to say in a time when we think Everything Is Out There Somewhere.

Indeed, it is. But most people will still need a native guide.
WereBear

A work in progress...

http://wayofcats.com/blog

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fldsfslmn
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Tue Nov 27, 2007 11:00 pm Post

So what would a blog powered by Scrivener actually look like? I'm interested in going from Scrivener to the web with as few intermediate steps as possible. In effect I want Scrivener to be my administration console. I think that, with a little luck, I can do something with scripting or Automator that will suit me better than purpose-built blog editors like MarsEdit, etc.

The answer seems to be to export to MMD onto the webserver (or via Subversion), and then have the little website I'm building in Ruby on Rails do the heavy lifting. RoR's MySQL integration is flat-out charming, though, and I really wouldn't want to waste one of the key features of my chosen development environment. Hmmmmmm. Maybe the question is how I get my Scrivener project into a MySQL database.

werebear wrote:Blogging is an extraordinary way to connect with present and future readers. But it's become a lesson in the role of books in the Information Age, and how books still have compelling things to say in a time when we think Everything Is Out There Somewhere.


2001/02 called. They want their outlook on computing back!

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fldsfslmn
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Tue Nov 27, 2007 11:22 pm Post

I just discovered BlueCloth, a Ruby implementation of Markdown. Anybody used this?

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werebear
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Wed Nov 28, 2007 10:13 pm Post

2001/02 called. They want their outlook on computing back!


Ah, well, they can't have it.

Can't be of help with more sophisticated uses like the Markdown, at least, not yet!
WereBear

A work in progress...

http://wayofcats.com/blog

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fldsfslmn
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Wed Nov 28, 2007 10:44 pm Post

:D Heh heh, thought you might like that.

I still think Scrivener will be the best admin console ever if .... I ... can ... just ... figure ... out ...... how .... to ...... do ..... it.

mi
mikep
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Sun Dec 30, 2007 6:10 pm Post

fldsfslmn, did you get anywhere with this?

I've been struggling with writing tools for my own MovableType weblog, and turned to Scrivener, but I've not had much luck. I hated Ecto, I'm ambivalent on MarsEdit, and Journler's dropped support for weblogs.

What I like about Scrivener (and liked about Journler) was the the ability and ease of keeping related research attached to a post. But short of having a separate Scrivener document per post, I can't see a way around keeping bits of research for disparate topics separated.

I know that Scrivener isn't meant to do this sort of thing and I'm looking to hammer a square peg into a round hole, but with anything else I feel like I'm hammering that peg right into my brain - if you'll forgive the hyperbole.

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fldsfslmn
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Mon Dec 31, 2007 9:54 pm Post

I know what you mean about square peg and round hole. I was trying to build a blog tool that would use Ruby (since I'm learning Ruby on Rails, but it could just as easily be PHP or something) to poke around inside a .scriv project and iterate through the .rtfd files looking for things to pull into a blog template. In this way a simple action in Scrivener—like dragging a document from a "drafts" folder to a "ready for the web" folder—could result in that item being picked up by the Ruby script the next time I save the project. Presto, hit refresh on the browser and my new article is up. No database, no extraneous blog control panels or cutting and pasting into text fields, just a Scrivener project (stored on my web server, obviously), a Ruby script, and some HTML.

The problem is that I'm still a bit naïve about all this web scripting stuff. We'll see what happens.

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adriandomenico
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Thu Mar 20, 2008 4:08 am Post

Hi,

This has been rattling around in my head for ages. I've stopped using Scrivener for blogging. I no longer use it because it presents no manageable way of pulling all my blog entries (published and unpublished), thoughts, images, research and notes together in a coherent, referenced way. There are IMS systems out there used by the 'big boys' that do all this with supreme style and elegance but it's just little old me here and an app like Scrivener suits the modest financial content of my pocket! It's so disappointing because I LOVE this application. It's simply beautiful. But I'm not a fiction writer and, try as I might, I cannot seem to adapt it to my needs.

I have read many times on this board about blog integration but I'm not sure that this is a direction for, or a need within, Scrivener. I see Scrivener as something of a journal, as well as an organisation, ideas, and, of course, a writing tool. The problem with it from a blogger's perspective, as I see it, is as mikep has already pointed out here. There is no coherent way to reference and store multiple unrelated blog entries. One can have a single project with multiple entries (documents) listed within it, but by the time one collects a few hundred entries, some of which have been published, others not, some are drafts with a sprinkling of research, and images that have been used in multiple entries, then the whole thing becomes too cumbersome to manage with any ease. One has to be meticulous about how documents are referenced, project references are useless because the whole collection is seen as a project by Scrivener, and one cannot reference folders as 'projects' so that they in turn can be referenced to each other if need be.

Blogging is indeed writing, and Scrivener certainly allows one to produce high quality finished blog entries. This is as far as Scrivener needs to go, I think. Output in plain text or HTML, and cut and paste in to the blog software or on-line entry interface. This, I think, is good enough. The content is finished, so one's main concern at the blog is presentation which, if the blog is prepared and coded correctly to suite the blogger's style and requirements, should be relatively easy. There are a few things that Scrivener could do for bloggers and web-writers. An HTML output optimised for blog use would be nice to maintain formatting on bold text, headings and emphasis, for example, and not adding header information; and it could produce web-ready images for upload to the blog, but these are trivial.

To me the main issue surrounds my actual work. The words, the images, the research, the notes, thoughts, ideas, snippets, web pages and url links. All the junk that I've collected because it may be handy or useful, or develop into an article or blog entry one day. I want to collate and reference within Scrivener so that I can browse and search.

A new topic occurs to me and I want to write about it. It would be fantastic to search Scrivener for things that could be related to this topic. Search for images, snippets, web pages, references and past thoughts and ideas that I may have had or come across two years ago and which are now long forgotten, until they turn up in a search result. A consummate article/blog writer's tool. One can enter full screen mode with thoughts, ideas and resources both past and present to hand. The drafts can be version mapped and the finished article, as I have already said, can be output in plain text, and marked as published in Scrivener.

I suggest leaving the blog/online formatting to a dedicated process outside of Scrivener and devising a version of Scrivener optimised for the tasks, thought and work processes of the blogger or magazine or newspaper article writer. One Scrivener 'document' or file containing projects and the resources needed to produce the work.

I hope this makes some sense. :D

adrian.