Using Scrivener with Dropbox

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KB
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Sun Feb 13, 2011 5:11 pm Post

Hello,

Our support thread on "Working off of network drives" has understandably left many users concerned about using Scrivener with Dropbox. However, the problems with storing .scriv files on Dropbox have been somewhat overstated, mainly because we want to ensure users know that no syncing method is 100% safe. So, here are some guidelines on using Scrivener with Dropbox that should keep you out of trouble.

Sharing a Project Between Computers Using Dropbox

If you want to access a project on more than one computer, the most straightforward way is to use Dropbox, storing your .scriv file in your Dropbox folder. The project will then be available on any computer you have set up to sync to your Dropbox folder, and because a Dropbox folder is no different to any other folder on your Mac, other than for the fact that it automatically syncs to your Dropbox account, you can open your .scriv file directly from there on whatever computer you are using.

However, if you do this, there are several things you need to make sure of - if you don't follow these guidelines, you could run into problems with projects getting corrupted or files not showing up correctly:

  1. Never, ever open the same project on more than one computer at a time: be sure to close your project on one computer before leaving that computer and trying to open it on another machine. The good news is that if you forget, when you go to open it on your other computer, Scrivener will warn you that it thinks the project is open on another machine. Always heed this warning. It is possible that you will see this warning when the project isn't open on another machine - for instance, if Scrivener crashed the last time it was used or wasn't closed properly, or if the project was copied while it was open - but always read read the warning and double-check. Only proceed with opening the project if you are sure it is not open on another machine. If you're not sure, Scrivener gives you the option of making a copy of the project to work on instead.
  2. Do not open the project before your Dropbox folder is fully synced. If you try to open the project while your Dropbox folder is still syncing, you could be opening it in its old state before it has downloaded the changes made from your other computer - and by opening the project, you will overwrite those changes with the older version you have opened. So be sure the tick in the green circle is present in the Dropbox icon in your menu bar - if it's not, don't open the project: wait until Dropbox is fully synced.
  3. Turn on automatic backups (in Scrivener's "Backup" preferences), setting Scrivener to back up your project on open or close (or both), preferably with the "Compress automatic backups as zip files" option ticked. Choose a backup bath somewhere on your local hard drive. This will ensure that your project has backups on every machine you use it on, as well as the "live" version in the Dropbox folder, so that even if the worst happens and the project gets corrupted somehow, you will have a recent version to return to.

Follow the above guidelines and you should be good to work on your projects directly from Dropbox.

Caveat: Although these guidelines should keep you out of trouble, no syncing solution is 100% reliable, and every computer and piece of software is fallible. We can take no responsibility for work lost through syncing problems (or for any other reason, for that matter - always be sure to back up!).


Note on External Folder Sync

External folder sync is intended for working on files in other programs and then being able to sync them back to Scrivener. You should never try to use external folder sync to synchronise Scrivener projects between machines - if you do so, you will corrupt your project and see some very odd results.

Hope that helps.

All the best,
Keith
"You can't waltz in here, use my toaster, and start spouting universal truths without qualification."

As
Ash
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Fri Feb 18, 2011 7:58 am Post

backing up to Dropbox on a computer works fine but I can't open it on my dropbox iPhone app. I like to read my work on the go.

Is there a way of making this work?
I've tried zipping it and keeping it unzipped
we really need a scrivener iPhone app:)

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MimeticMouton
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Fri Feb 18, 2011 8:07 am Post

This is the scenario when you do want to use the External Folder Sync. Forgive me if I misunderstand, but the way you mention backing up and zipping/unzipping sounds like you're working with the whole .scriv file, whereas for accessing your project files on the iPad/iPhone/iWhatever you want to set up your Draft (or select files in a collection, etc.) to sync with new folder you create on Dropbox. You'll also need to set the files to sync as plain text, since unless something's changed recently, there aren't iOS-Dropbox-linked editors that read RTF.* §13.2 in the manual explains how to do all this and gives some important notices for the plain-text conversion, so definitely check that out. :)

* If all you're doing is reading, not editing, you can probably leave it as RTF, but I don't know off the top of my head. Shouldn't be hard to find out.
Jennifer Hughes
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karmjack
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Sun Feb 27, 2011 7:10 pm Post

Thank you for this information. Is it possible to use the external folder sync (with Plaintext) on two machines? I know how to either keep my laptop & desktop in sync (through Dropbox) or one or the other with my iPad (through Plaintext). Any suggestions?

ETA: I have tried to do this by implementing the same sync settings on both computers but when I do this on the second computer, I run into a problem because the Plaintext folder is not empty.

Ha
Harbourlite
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Sun Mar 13, 2011 5:58 am Post

I'm wondering if anyone could help me address an issue I am having. I have scrivener on my iMac, I have plaintext on my iPhone, and I am attempting to sync using Dropbox. I'm new to all of these things and everything was fine but now, on my iPhone, my project has all the headers or "notes", but they are empty! Im hoping I can fix this, and that syncing is possible! I am a sailor and I would like to write while at sea and update once I'm home.

Thankyou!

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AmberV
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Sun Mar 13, 2011 6:14 am Post

Have you checked the files in your Dropbox folder while on the Mac? If they are not empty, then it must be some glitch between your iPhone editor and the Dropbox server.
.:.
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Mon Mar 14, 2011 2:03 pm Post

Ash and Harbourlite - have you looked into using Simplenote? Scriv 2.0 allows you to sync specific documents with Simplenote, which in turn makes them available to edit on your iPhone. Any changes you make can then be sent back to SN which can then be pulled by Scriv.

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mepelman
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Mon Mar 14, 2011 9:00 pm Post

Hi! I have the following related question: I have two Macs, along with a couple of iDevices. I am currently using Dropbox-based sync of various projects between the Macs, exactly as described in this post. However, I would like to add the ability to sync and edit the drafts portions of my scrivener projects on, say, my iPhone one the go. I am thinking that something like the Simplenote Sync, or sync with external folder, which itself lives in Dropbox should work. However, I need to be able to sync the edits I've done on the go on the phone with the the Scrivener project that resides on my computer on either and both Macs. (I often use one or the other of these computers for days at a time, e.g., when I travel for several days in a row, or work from home for several days in a row, so picking only one "designated" computer that handles folder or Simplenote syncronization wouldn't work for me.)

Any suggestions for how I might be able to safely set this up?
Thanks all!
-- M.E.

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Harbourlite
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Tue Mar 15, 2011 10:54 pm Post

Thank you all for your suggestions... I have remedied myself. I was not using scrivener correctly. And yes thank you I now have simplenote as well.

K.

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bakari45
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Wed Mar 16, 2011 5:15 pm Post

I just started using Scrivener with Dropbox. So in reading through this thread, am I to understand that when I sync a project from Scrivener on my laptop to my Dropbox account, I can’t open that project in Scrivener on my desktop? I can only edit the files in another text editing application? For when I try to import the project in my Dropbox account into Scrivener on my desktop, it won’t allow me to do it.


what do you mean by "sync a project from Scrivener on my laptop to my Dropbox account"? If you mean using File > Sync > with External Folder... then no, definitely not - that can't be used to sync two projects; it's not intended for that and will quickly corrupt your projects if you ignore the warnings and try to force it to do so.

So would/could it be easier to just save project files on Dropbox and then open them in different computers?


Yes, exactly as described in the first post, this is the way to share a project between machines. Just be sure you follow the guidance in my first post regarding backing up and making sure not to open the project while Dropbox is still syncing.

All the best,
Keith

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KB
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Wed Mar 16, 2011 6:12 pm Post

mepelman: If you have a .scriv file saved in a Dropbox, then you can set that project to sync to the same external folder on both machines. That is the exception, because in that case the project is always being synced by Dropbox. But, the rules above still apply - if you sync the project with the external folder on one machine and then close the project and open it on the other machine, be sure to allow Dropbox to sync before you open it. This ensures that the project will always be identical on both machines. Problems with syncing two copies of a project to an external folder arise when you use the external folder as a means of trying to keep them in sync - if the projects are already in sync then it shouldn't be a problem.

As with all syncing, though: be sure to backup obsessively. No syncing routine is 100% safe.

All the best,
Keith
"You can't waltz in here, use my toaster, and start spouting universal truths without qualification."

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bakari45
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Wed Mar 16, 2011 6:41 pm Post

So would/could it be easier to just save project files on Dropbox and then open them in different computers?


Yes, exactly as described in the first post, this is the way to share a project between machines. Just be sure you follow the guidance in my first post regarding backing up and making sure not to open the project while Dropbox is still syncing.

All the best,
Keith[/quote]

Yep, Keith, thanks. Sharing a project between computers easier than the Sync with External Folder method. I now understand the difference between the two.

Ch
Chuck
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Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:56 pm Post

I believe this may have been covered and apologize for duplication.
I am not interested in working on the same Scrivener project on multiple machines. However, I recently had a scare where I thought my computer hard drive had died.
Is there any problem with setting my Dropbox folder as the place to store the compressed Scrivener backups?
That way I would be protected from a machine failure (I do use SuperDuper to make backups, but they do cover my very latest work).

Thank you.

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MimeticMouton
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Thu Mar 17, 2011 8:08 pm Post

Chuck wrote:Is there any problem with setting my Dropbox folder as the place to store the compressed Scrivener backups?


Nope; that's a great way to proliferate your backups, especially if you also have another computer syncing the Dropbox account, since you'll get the backups stored on that hard drive too.
Jennifer Hughes
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sophifire
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Fri Mar 18, 2011 9:04 pm Post

Hi,
I've managed to sync my Scrivener project on my Mac with Dropbox, and thence with the Plaintext app on my iphone. The draft & notes folders were working fine, have been writing on both mac & iphone, but since I've outlined a bunch of scenes (which show up in the NOTES folder), none of the files in the NOTES folder have any content in them -- just the titles.
Can anyone tell me what's going on? (without getting too technical!)
Thanks