If it’s Tuesday, This Must Be Scotland

Oddly enough for a travel blog entry, I won’t be adding a photo today. That’s because the free unlimited data from T-Mobile is slow, and ship’s Wi-Fi is slower. I can’t upload a photo without it being cancelled due to a network timeout. I’ll consider myself lucky to get a blog entry posted at all.

As usual, I find the cruise-with-edifying-port-excursions format frustrating. I get but a tiny taste of something I’d rather sit down with and savor. All I can say for it is that it’s far less stressful than trying the same thing with land transportation.

I can’t complain about our cruise provider, though. Viking Cruises is serious about “all-inclusive”—aside from our fare, we need pay for nothing besides gratuities. The staff is always courteous and eager to provide anything—extra pods for our in-cabin espresso machine, 24-hour room service—that we might reasonably request. Shipboard laundromats are free.

On the other hand I’ve managed to have some experiences that I thought I never would:

  • Seeing the Northern Lights
  • Being at sea during a North Atlantic gale
  • Seeing icebergs
  • Watching a Swedish customs officer get really pissed with a clueless American who thought he could wander back and forth through checkpoints at will

Mind you, none of these was actually on my “bucket list”; in fact, I would put “being at sea during a North Atlantic gale” on my anti-bucket list—an experience that I would happily have gone to my grave without. I’m usually a good sailor, but I needed Dramamine that night. There was nothing the ship’s captain could have done—Hubby pulled up the marine weather forecasts, and the blasted gale actually formed around our position. We had to skip a port-of-call because it would have had the full force of 50-knot winds slamming us into the pier.

Sadly, I had bought my Dramamine from the ship’s shop before I found out I could have gotten a dose by just asking at the passenger desk.

Note to self: Never again attend a presentation in the ship’s theater when said theater is in the forecastle, has no horizon reference, and we’re pounding through forty-foot waves.


Packing For the Cruise == Madness #amwriting

My brain creates chaos while packing...

The floor of my room looks like this now… (Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at http://FreeDigitalPhotos.net )


I love travel.

I hate packing.

I envy Tim Ferriss’s mad lightweight travel skillz—but even if I were going to live abroad for months, I’d likely still pack to live out of my luggage for a week or three. Yes, yes, unlike my mother I know that non-USA cities have toothpaste and mouthwash and even toilet paper for sale, but I’d rather have some time to scope out the local shops so that I’m not getting ripped off in tourist traps.

And since I’m not doing the lightweight, living in a hostel or couchsurfing thing, but going on a freaking cruise ship, I had better have all the socially and climatically required clothing available even if I have to use the laundromat aboard every three days.

But—how many sets of underwear? Will there be enough USA-compatible outlets in the the stateroom for both Hubby’s electronics and mine? How cold is it in the North Atlantic in September? (Pretty darn, by South California lowlands standards.) What should I wear for shipboard dining? Dancing? Swimming pool or spa? (Should I even bother? Am I too fat and too old to wear a swimsuit? If so, how can all the other old farts on the cruise stand showing up at the pool?) How can I get the ridiculous variety of dietary supplements I take past security and customs?

Then I must answer the most agonizing question of all:

Which electronics should I take and which should I leave behind? Will I get to write? Is it worthwhile schlepping the MacBook Air? Can I get by with the iPad, or should I take the iPhone as well? Is there T-Mobile data service in Greenland? (Not really, no. Not even T-Mobile covers Greenland.)

The fact that I’m in the middle of switching all my wireless devices from Verizon to T-Mobile doesn’t help. Yes, T-Mobile has vastly superior travel support, but right now I’m sweating transferring each line as it comes off Verizon contract. (T-Mobile’s offer to pay off your Early Termination Fees isn’t as good as it sounds. It only applies if you buy all new devices and trade in your old ones. I just bought the iPad Air 2 in May so I’m not trading that in, and I happen to really like my green iPhone 5c. Besides, the point of the carrier change is to save money, not spend gobs of it on new toys.)

So I’d just decided that I definitely would NOT take either phone or MacBook Air, but would schlep my iPad, its keyboard, and a Real Camera (not a DSLR, but a nice upscale point-and-shoot—the Canon Elph 190 IS.) Hubby then raised the issue with some friends as to the possibility of voice calls while we’re in Canada, and I considered the issue opened again. Finally, I decided that if Hubby wants to take voice calls in Canada on his work AT&T phone, he’s welcome to do so and work it out with his management after. The green iPhone stays in California.

So that means packing spare batteries for my noise-cancelling headphones, my Misfit Flash activity tracker, and my Logitech iPad keyboard. I’ll need a Lightning cable and charger for the iPad, and a charger for the camera battery. I’ll be working with iOS Scrivener without a net, as I don’t expect that I’ll have enough bandwidth to either sync with Dropbox regularly or save zipped backups to Google drive. Besides, I upgraded to iOS 10, and the zipped backups function of iOS Scrivener is crashing until Keith is sure that there are no further bugs related to iOS 10 and releases an update.

Foo. The good news that I’ll have even more experience using iOS Scrivener in isolation from the Mac version. If I find out any good stuff, I’ll let you know.


The Great Blogging Tool Quest of 2016 (Editorial wins!) #amwriting

Editorial for iOS

Editorial is my iOS blogging tool-of-choice


I have nearly 250 posts on this blog. At a rate of about one post per week, that’s more than four years of posts. Until recently, I’ve used the WordPress browser-based editor to create my articles. Easy-peasy, and the iOS WordPress apps have allowed me to compose and niggle at my posts on the go.

Until I accidentally deleted a post, that is.

It wasn’t a great post. It was from about two years ago, and embarrassingly snarky. But there it was, or rather it wasn’t; I deleted it by mistake and had no backup.

I’ve therefore been playing with various offline blogging tools for the past six weeks, in addition to recording my iOS Scrivener workarounds and writing fiction. (Yes, I have been writing fiction. Honest.) I’ve been looking for tools that meet the following criteria (in rough order of their importance to me):

  1. Posts are stored on Dropbox or other cloud service (Google?) in a format that will let me change tools at will—preferably a widely-used dialect of Markdown. PHP Markdown Extra (used by WordPress) would be ideal, but MultiMarkdown would work for me, too.
  2. The tool set enables me to work both on my MacBook Air and on my iOS devices.
  3. These tools let me have the kind of control over post format that I’ve enjoyed with the WP classic browser tools.
  4. The tools help me keep my posts and research material, such as it is, organized.
  5. The tool set permits me to publish directly to WordPress.
  6. Said tools are dead cheap.

I haven’t been able to meet all six criteria, but I’ve come close. All but four of the tools I investigated were ones I’d already had on hand because of iOS Scrivener investigations. Three of those had free trials available.

For editing and publication on the iOS side, I’m using Editorial. This app is one of the best $10 USD I’ve ever spent. I haven’t been able to get it to upload graphics yet1, but posting Markdown to WordPress is one of the many Python scripts available for this expandable wonder. Since it publishes Markdown, once I get my image set up the way I like, it stays that way. It’s not perfect; it’s not compatible with any cloud service except Dropbox, and it doesn’t support iOS 9.x multitasking. Still, it serves my persnickety purposes.

For storage, I’m using Dropbox (free level). It’s all Editorial uses, but it’s already well-integrated into my workflow so it’s no hassle.

For a research database, I’m using Evernote (premium level). It still has the virtues that first recommended it to me: It’s available everywhere, it searches everything it’s got, and it accepts an astonishing variety of input. I use it for everything else; why not this?

For editing and publication on the Mac side, I’m using TextWrangler (free), Marked 2 ($9.99 USD), and copy-and-paste to the WordPress browser editor. Oh, well. Most of my blogging is done on the iPad, anyway.

For the record, here are the tools I tried and rejected:

  • iA Writer. iA Writer insists on translating Markdown into HTML before publishing to WordPress. This means I can’t use WordPress’s proprietary shortcodes (which look like Markdown, but aren’t.) The HTML translator chokes on the stuff, so I have to go into the WordPress editor at least twice to get my images to display the way I want. If I weren’t so picky about how my images are displayed, I might have been able to use it, but—I am picky. Very picky. My tools have to deal with that.
  • Byword. Yeah, I spent the $10 USD to check this out. See iA Writer.
  • Blogo. Fails criterion 1 above. In its free version, it is merely an alternative to the WordPress app or browser editor. In its subscription version, it’s more oriented to the writer who has many blogs to update. It uses its own proprietary cloud service, and saves only a limited number of posts. To be fair, it’s not intended as an archive, but as “One app to blog them all.”
  • MarsEdit. Another “One app to blog them all.” This one is Mac-only. It doesn’t meet criterion 1, either.
  • Scrivener. Yes, there is a writing task for which I find Scrivener unsuited. Try not to faint. Some of the folks on the Scrivener forums had used it for blogging with success. So I tried it, but getting my posts out of Scrivener’s native rich text format and into WordPress.com while satisfying criterion 1 was an exercise in frustration. To be fair, Literature and Latte have never claimed Scrivener to be blogging software, and have neither WordPress publication now nor plans to add it in future. Besides, using Scrivener for a blog post—even with 240 other blog posts recorded—feels like swatting a fly with a cannon.
  • Ulysses. Ulysses (demo for Mac) is closest to what I really want in an offline blog editor—closer than the solution I chose. It uploads graphics but doesn’t do captions or alignment, so I would still have to tweak with image display, but at least Ulysses wouldn’t sabotage my efforts afterwards. I rejected it partly on its closed iCloud storage format (its Dropbox integration doesn’t have the features I want), partly on my intense dislike of its proprietary Markdown dialect, but mostly on its comparatively hefty price tag. I don’t need to sink $70 USD into yet another long-form writing solution—which also feels like swatting a fly with a cannon. Besides, despite its “distraction-free environment” I tinker with its interface even more than I do with Scrivener’s.

  1. In order to do my images the way I want (uploaded with captions, alignment, and other metadata, with the WordPress identifier as well as full display code returned), well, heck. I might even do what I swore never to do again, and learn Yet Another Programming Language (Python). Probably not, though. 

Who Crosses the Atlantic by Boat Anymore? (Cruising the Atlantic)

Atlantic Cruise Map

We’ll travel “In the Wake of the Vikings” starting 18 September 2016 (image from http://www.vikingcruises.com )


It seems I cross the Atlantic by boat. Or I will.

Both Scrivener techniques and writing are taking a back seat to preparation for our upcoming two-week adventure with Viking Ocean Cruises. We’ll start in Bergen, Norway and travel by . . . ocean cruise ship (squee!) to:

  • Lerwick, Shetland Islands, UK
  • Torshavn, Faroe Islands, Denmark
  • Reykjavík, Iceland
  • Nanortalik, Greenland
  • Qaqortoq, Greenland
  • L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, Canada
  • Saguenay, Quebec, Canada
  • Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
  • Montreal, Quebec, Canada

So I’m arranging for international data service for my iPad, while setting it up to write for extended periods without an Internet connection. (I know better than to rely on the shipboard Internet—on our river cruise in Europe it was . . . feeble at best. It’s a desperation alternative only.) I’m increasing my daily walking miles to be ready for those shore excursions. I’m checking my winter wardrobe, replacing a few pieces and adding others.—What’s that you say? It won’t be winter?

I live in Southern California, folks, and I don’t ski. Therefore, autumn in Greenland looks like winter to me. Layering will be my friend, here, because I don’t want to invest in the really heavy stuff that the forecast for Greenland would suggest to a cold weather wimp like myself . . .

I’m excited! Not only am I crossing the Atlantic in a way I’d thought I’d been born too late for, but I’m also getting to hike in Scotland—a delight I missed on our last visit.

Hubby’s birthday falls on the day we’ll be in Reykjavík. I wonder how they do birthday celebrations in Iceland?

Scrivener iOS-only Workflow: Tables and Lists @ScrivenerApp

Harvard_notes
It was the first entry in the Scrivener iOS Knowledge Base: Scrivener iOS doesn’t support creating or expanding indented bulleted lists, indented numbered lists, or tables. Check out the linked Knowledge Base article if you want to know why; but such a high percentage of the beta testers asked about this that I immediately thought—“How can I work around this?” Answering that question took me through a lot of iOS productivity apps and got me into long discussions with the developer, Keith Blount. Here are the answers I found:

If you have Mac or Windows Scrivener and have access to it regularly, your best practice is to use your Mac or PC Scrivener to deal with tables and lists. But if you’re an iOS-only Scrivener road warrior or you spend extended time away from your PC or Mac, read on.

In iOS Scrivener you can edit line items in indented lists, and cell contents in tables. You just can’t add list items, change list indentation, or modify table structure. Again, if you have Mac or Windows Scrivener and can live with the list and table structures you’ve got—until you get back to your computer—your best practice is to do so.

If you can live with unformatted lists and tables, another option is just to defer adding or formatting these visual elements until after you’ve compiled your project, and can use Pages or Microsoft Word to add final formatting.

But maybe that won’t work for you. You need these elements in your iOS-only project. Be aware that full formatting for Harvard-style lists is astonishingly rare on iOS. Table support is more common, but still hard to find—Scrivener is hardly alone in this. Read on for ways to add them while making certain that they’ll come out of Scrivener’s compile process in reasonable order.

The apps I mention below are NOT a complete list—they are only the apps I’ve tested for list and table integration with Scrivener iOS. If you have an editor that I haven’t tested, give it a try! Please let me know how it works! (By the way, I get no money if you buy any of these apps.)

Apps for Markdown (HTML) Lists and Tables

A good Markdown editor will let you compose simple tables, and indented lists (without complex formatting). Scrivener can import either HTML files or RTF files, but retains more formatting if your Markdown editor can export in RTF.

Choose a Markdown editor that supports tables and that will export either RTF (preferred) or HTML via Open in. Two that I’ve tested that work are iA Writer, and Matcha (NOT Matcha 3! Only the older version works.) I prefer Matcha because it will export in RTF, while iA Writer will only do HTML. Byword’s documentation suggests it will work as well as Matcha, but I haven’t tested it myself.

Two Markdown editors that will not work with tables are Daedalus Touch and Ulysses. If you already have these—they’re fine for lists, but have no table support. They also export only HTML, not RTF.

Apps for Harvard-style numbered lists

The only app I’ve found that will export well-formed Harvard outlines in .rtf format is Notability. Pages, Word, and Google Docs all insist on exporting in .docx, and .docx documents run afoul of the same problems that keep Scrivener iOS from doing its own tables and lists to begin with. If you’d prefer these, be aware that you will need to export to a document converter such as Doc Convert, and export from there into Scrivener.

Apps for more complex tables

I had good success with OfficeSuite Free by MobiSystems. That’s right, free. The default table style works fine when exported to Scrivener as .rtf. The fancy table styles I tried didn’t work so well, but I didn’t stop to play with all of them, and there are quite a few.

The bad news is that OfficeSuite Free has plenty of ads and refuses to export to some obscure file types unless you pay for an in-app purchase, but it is nonetheless usable as it stands. (You can buy the upgraded OfficeSuite Pro for $14.99 USD if you like.) Note that its nested bullet lists and Harvard-style lists won’t work in Scrivener—this is a solution for tables only.

Again, you can work with Pages or Microsoft Word if you don’t mind using a conversion utility to convert from .docx to .rtf.

Workflow pointers, or best practices:

Your general approach will be create and edit your table or list in your external editor of choice. Then, export an .rtf (or .html) file to Scrivener (via a conversion app if needed). Once in Scrivener, you can move the file to where you want it in your project.

  • I advise against copying and pasting into an existing Scrivener file; it means more work if you need to edit your table or list in your external editor and re-export. Instead, split your Scrivener document if you need to, and drop in the table or list as a separate file.
  • Always leave a blank line, plus a line with some dummy text (like “Delete me!”) below a table or a list in your original editor. For some reason, there needs to be that bit extra for the RTF file creator in iOS to properly end the list or table. Once you’ve exported to Scrivener, you can delete the “Delete Me!” line but still leave one blank line after.
  • Keep copies of your tables and lists in whatever editor you’re using for them. That way if you need to edit further, you don’t have to try to copy and paste out of Scrivener (or re-export the file back to your external editor.) You can just edit and export again.



iOS Scrivener — Resolving iOS-Only Sync Conflicts @ScrivenerApp

ID-100264847

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at http://FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Last week in iOS Scrivener — How to Resolve Sync Conflicts I talked about Scrivener iOS sync conflicts and presented a method of resolving them based on using Mac or Windows Scrivener.

But what if you don’t have either Mac or Windows Scrivener?

Once again, none of your words have disappeared. You can go forward with resolving sync conflicts using iOS-only tools. Again, you will need to spend a few minutes checking the versions of your file(s) with each other, and manually merging changes.

On each iOS device:

  1. Get to your projects screen inside Scrivener.
  2. Manually tap the Sync icon.
  3. Quit the app. (Double-click the Home button to reveal the app gallery, and slide Scrivener up to remove it from the gallery.)

You should have a “Conflicts” folder on each of those devices in the conflicted project — perhaps more than one. No worries, we’re on our way.

On your iOS Device with the biggest screen:

  1. Open the project that’s conflicted. Go ahead and open a Conflicts folder, now that you’re sure that your iDevices are not hiding un-synced changes.
  2. Dig down inside the Conflicts folder if you need to, to find the actual file shown as conflicted. Don’t open that right away.

Directions For iPad Resolution:

Setting up Quick Reference

  1. In your Binder, find the “original” file. Open it in the Editor. This is the version that Scrivener thinks is the best version. Slide right on its name in the Binder and tap the “More” button. Select Quick Reference.
  2. Go back to the version in the Conflicts folder and open it. You will have had to remove the original file from the Quick Reference sidebar.
  3. In the Binder sidebar, tap on the name of the project (at the top). In the Quick Reference list which appears, tap on the top item — your Binder copy of the conflicted file.
  4. Now you have your Binder copy on the left and the Conflicts folder copy on the right. Read through them and make needed changes to the Binder (left-hand) copy.
  5. Repeat Steps 2 through 4 for every file in the Conflicts folder(s). You may have to do it more than once for the same Binder file, in order to pick up both iPad and iPhone changes.

Now that you have your changes incorporated, move your Conflicts folder(s) to the Trash — you no longer need them. Delete them from the Trash, as keeping them around could cause conflict detection to get confused. Close your project and sync. Quit Scrivener as above.

On all your iOS device(s), just to be sure, go to the Settings app. Tap Scrivener > Reset Scrivener > Clear Dropbox Sync Cache. When you start iOS Scrivener again and sync, Scrivener will rebuild its date comparison information to be sure that all the dates agree everywhere.

What to Do If You Don’t Have an iPad (or have long texts in your project)

Instead of steps 1-4 in the iPad resolution above, I suggest the use of iDiff ($1.99 USD). This will highlight differences between versions and let you merge your changes in a plain text environment. You will need to be cautious when copying your changes back to Scrivener so that you don’t lose your rich text formatting.

iDiff Workflow

iDiff example

  1. In your Binder, find the “original” file. Open it in the Editor. This is the version that Scrivener thinks is the best version. Select all the text and choose “Copy” from the Edit menu.
  2. Launch iDiff. Paste your Binder version text into the green area.
  3. Go back to the version in the Conflicts folder and open it. Select all the text and choose “Copy” from the Edit menu.
  4. Switch to iDiff. Paste your Conflicts version text into the red area. Tap on the differences button (circle arrows in the lower left corner of the screen.)
  5. Now you have your text with all differences highlighted in the white area of the iDiff screen. Edit the red and green texts until the WHITE version reads correctly.
  6. Select all the text in the WHITE area and copy it. Select all the text in the GREEN area and paste the text from the White area over it.
  7. Repeat Steps 3 through 6 for every file in the Conflicts folder(s). You may have to do it more than once for the same Binder file, in order to pick up both iPad and iPhone changes.

Now the white area in iDiff has the corrected version of your text. Copy and paste this back into Scrivener. If your text has no formatting, you can just replace it all; otherwise, copy and paste in chunks, using “unstyled paste” to preserve your formatting where necessary.

Now that you have your changes incorporated, just as in the iPad workflow, move your Conflicts folder(s) to the Trash and then delete them. Close your project and sync. Quit Scrivener as above on all devices, and reset the Dropbox caches.

Nuclear Option

In rare cases, you may get repeated sync warnings on iOS and continued creation of conflict folders, despite having followed the directions above. If this happens to you:

  1. Don’t proceed with sync!
  2. Quit Scrivener on both iOS devices as described above.
  3. Open the project in iOS Scrivener on ONE device (I’ll call this the master device) and make sure it’s correct. Follow one of the above processes if needed.
  4. Make a backup by going to your Projects screen, tapping Edit, selecting the conflicted project, and tapping the export button. Save the backup to Dropbox outside the Dropbox sync folder.
  5. Quit Scrivener on the master iOS Device as described above.
  6. In the Dropbox app, move the original project out of the Dropbox sync folder. This should have the result of deleting the project from iOS Scrivener.
  7. Back in iOS Scrivener, manually sync your projects. If the conflicted project reappears, tap Edit above the Binder, select the offending project, and tap Delete. Keep doing this until the project is completely gone on both iOS devices.
  8. Back in the Dropbox app, move the original project back to your Dropbox sync folder.

Now you may safely sync iOS Scrivener on all devices to get the clean project. If it’s a large project, be sure you’re on a good connection, preferably WiFi.

Next up: iOS-only tables.



iOS Scrivener — How to Resolve Sync Conflicts @ScrivenerApp

ID-100264847

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at http://FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It happened. You were working on your iPhone on your lunch hour, and you switched away from Scrivener to answer a text, forgot that you had your project open, and locked your phone. Then you went to a coffee shop after work and started work on the very same file on your iPad. You received no warning. You closed your Scrivener project and it was automatically backed up over Wi-Fi. Then you pulled out your phone to let your Significant Other know that you’re finally on your way home — and remembered.

With fear and trepidation, you opened Scrivener on your iPhone. You’re in the middle of the document you’d been editing all day — and none of your iPad changes were there. You closed the project, your automatic sync started . . .

And you got the dreaded “Conflicted Files” warning. When you tapped away the alert, a nasty yellow “Conflicts” folder appeared in your project.

Don’t Panic!

None of your words have disappeared. You will need to spend a few minutes checking the versions of your file with each other, and manually merging changes. That’s all. If you have Scrivener for Mac/PC, try this:

On each iOS device:

  1. Get to your projects screen inside Scrivener.
  2. Manually tap the Sync icon.
  3. Quit the app. (Double-click the Home button to reveal the app gallery, and slide Scrivener up to remove it from the gallery.)

You should have a “Conflicts” folder on each of those devices in the conflicted project — perhaps more than one. No worries, we’re on our way.

On your Mac/PC:

  1. Open the project that’s conflicted. It will update, show another alert about conflicts, and then that (those) yellow folder(s) will show up. Go ahead and open a Conflicts folder, now that you’re sure that your iDevices are not hiding un-synced changes.
  2. Dig down inside the Conflicts folder if you need to, to find the actual file shown as conflicted. Don’t open that right away.
  3. In your Binder, find the “original” file. Open it in the Editor. This is the version that Scrivener thinks is the best version. Make a snapshot of it.
  4. Go back to the version in the Conflicts folder. Choose Edit > Select All. Choose Edit > Copy.
  5. Back in the Binder version, Choose Edit > Select All. Choose Edit > Paste.
  6. In the Snapshots pane, click the Compare button. Walk through your changes by using the arrow buttons in the Snapshots pane. Correct the Binder copy as needed.
  7. Repeat Steps 2 through 6 for every file in the Conflicts folder(s). You may have to do it more than once for the same Binder file, in order to pick up both iPad and iPhone changes.

Now that you have your changes incorporated, move your Conflicts folder(s) to the Trash — you no longer need them. Delete them from the Trash, as keeping them around could cause conflict detection to get confused. Quit Mac/PC Scrivener.

Back on your iOS device(s), just to be sure, go to the Settings app. Tap Scrivener > Reset Scrivener > Clear Dropbox Sync Cache. When you start iOS Scrivener again and sync, Scrivener will rebuild its date comparison information to be sure that all the dates everywhere agree.

Nuclear Option

In rare cases, you may get repeated sync warnings on iOS and continued creation of conflict folders, despite having followed the directions above. This rare event may happen if you use Scrivener on two iOS devices. If this happens to you:

  1. Don’t proceed with sync!
  2. Quit Scrivener on both iOS devices as described above.
  3. Open the project in Mac/PC Scrivener and make sure it’s correct. Follow the above process if needed.
  4. Make a backup outside the Dropbox sync folder.
  5. Quit Mac/PC Scrivener.
  6. In Finder, or File Explorer, move the original project out of the Dropbox sync folder.
  7. Back in iOS, open Scrivener and manually sync your projects. If the conflicted project reappears, tap Edit above the Binder, select the offending project, and tap Delete. Keep doing this until the project is completely gone on both iOS devices.
  8. Back on your Mac/PC, and still in Finder or File Explorer, move the original project back to your Dropbox sync folder.

Now you may safely sync your iOS devices to get the clean project. If it’s a large project, be sure you’re on a good connection, preferably WiFi. Or, transfer it via iTunes this once.

Next up: iOS-only conflict resolution.



Scrivener for iOS ― Research Workflow @ScrivenerApp

No Scrivener option here. What the heck?

No Scrivener option here. What the heck?


You’ve installed Scrivener for iOS—and you decide to make use of Scrivener’s research facilities. You’ve found a web page in Safari that has exactly the information on 19th century animal control practices you’re looking for. You tap the export (share) button…

And don’t find Scrivener listed. What the heck?

The fact is that you can’t do this in desktop Scrivener either. For the most part, Scrivener has only ever been able to import a file that already exists as a separate thing. The web page you’re looking at isn’t a file, exactly; it’s a set of instructions on how to display information that lives in several different files at its web address, the URL.

“Nitpicky geek!” I hear you say. “What does that have to do with anything?”

On desktop Scrivener, you’d copy the information, and paste the (text) portion into a file in Scrivener. Or you’d copy the URL and then in Scrivener’s Research Folder “Add Web Page” to save the page as a .webarchive file, and then save that file in your project. Possibly, you’d print the page, and use the “Save PDF to Scrivener” option (I don’t know if that’s available on Windows, but it’s a common Mac dodge.) You might save the text to Scrivener’s Scratch Pad.

There is no way to print to a PDF on iOS, and iOS Safari doesn’t save .webarchive files. There’s no resource in iOS for other apps to use to create .webarchive files. Scrivener for iOS doesn’t have a Scratch Pad. You can still copy the (text part of the) information and paste it into a text file in Scrivener. But if you want to keep the formatting, images, etc. you’re going to need to take a separate step or two, and use some extra apps.

General Approach

The most convenient way to stuff research into iOS Scrivener is by creating a PDF from a webpage. You’ll send the URL from Safari to an app that can translate the page, and save it in PDF form, and from there export it to Scrivener. There is even a benefit to the intermediate “create a PDF” step. At the point before adding the PDF to Scrivener, you can stop and edit or markup your PDF with any of several PDF editors. I personally don’t use any of these and so can’t recommend one, but you do have the option to add this step to your workflow.

The following three workarounds are available free, and result in a PDF that you can add to your research folder directly, or after markup if you so wish.

If you’re not a Dropbox hater, you may like my current favorite,

The Dropbox Method

First, be sure you’ve installed the Dropbox app on your iOS device (the app isn’t necessary for Scrivener syncing, just a Dropbox account, but the app is needed for the rest of this research capture method.)

When you tap on that share button in Safari, select “Save to Dropbox.” (If you don’t see this, tap the “More” button on the bottom row of actions, and turn it on.) Select a folder on Dropbox. Any folder. It doesn’t have to be your sync folder; in fact, it’s better if it isn’t. I have a folder set up quite separate from my sync folder, named simply “Scratch Pad,” that I use for this. Dropbox will save a nice PDF, with a header including date and URL, and return you to Safari.
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When you’ve finished your research, import the files into your Scrivener project from Dropbox by tapping the Import icon in the toolbar beneath the Binder.

PROS:

  • You don’t have to open another app to get your research into Scrivener; just Safari, and Scrivener.
  • It’s academic-friendly. Your PDF will have a header with date and URL, needed for academic research.
  • If you’re using Dropbox to sync with, you already have a Dropbox account, so adding the Dropbox app to your device is the only prep you possibly need to do.

CONS:

  • Well, it’s Dropbox. Some people don’t like Dropbox. De gustibus non est disputandem.

The iBooks Method

When you tap on that share button in Safari, select “Save PDF to iBooks.” The page will be saved, with a neat footer detailing the URL for the information and when you downloaded it (again, important for academic research.) Then go back to Safari and continue with your research, saving PDFs to iBooks as needed.

When your research session is done, go to iBooks and email each PDF to yourself. In Mail, open each attachment, and tap the Share button. Now, you should see “Copy to Scrivener” as an option. Tap it, and the PDF will be added to your open Scrivener project. If you like, you can now delete the original PDF from iBooks.

PROS:

  • Always available on every iOS device
  • Capture includes date and URL

CONS:

  • This interrupts your research by taking you to the iBooks app; you have to switch back to Safari.
  • Requires using two different apps besides Safari to get the document into Scrivener.

If you are an Evernote fan, have Evernote on your iOS device, and have both Evernote and Scrivener on your desktop machine, you may like

The Evernote Method

When you tap on that share button in Safari, select “Evernote.” Evernote will clip the page and save it to Evernote in its usual fashion. When you have access to your desktop machine again, print the note to “Save PDF to Scrivener.”

PROS:

  • This method also captures date and URL.
  • The information is saved in Scrivener for use while writing, and in Evernote for other uses. If you’re an Evernote fan, it’s a plus.

CONS:

  • The information is duplicated; if you mark up or add information to the document one place, you’ll have to remember to update it in the other as well.
  • It requires getting access to Scrivener on desktop or laptop, which may not be practical.

This used to be my favorite, BIS (Before iOS Scrivener), when my research had to go into Evernote in order to be available on iOS, but I’m re-thinking that now.

Other Options

There are tens of little apps, free to cheap, whose purpose is to stuff things like web pages into PDFs. More pop up on the App Store all the time, like mushrooms after rain. It may be worth a dollar or two to you to avoid the iBooks hassle, if neither Dropbox nor Evernote is to your liking.

When choosing such an app, be sure it will show up in the Safari actions menu so that you can seamlessly save your finds. It also needs to support “Open in…” in order to get your PDF into Scrivener smoothly.

Here are two I’ve tried:

URL2PDF – Web to PDF Converter by Paulo Freitas

URL2PDF in the App Store

$0.99 USD. It’s just what it says. Turn this on in the bottom row of your Safari export options. When you choose it, you’ll be taken to the URL2PDF app, where you have a lot of options to format your PDF output to your taste. ( It does interrupt your research to go format the PDF, though.) Convert in the app. Export from URL2PDF to Scrivener (or your markup app.)

PDF Converter – Save Documents, Web Pages, Photos to PDF by Readdle

PDF Converter in the App Store

$3.99 USD. It has the capability to convert URLs and much else besides to PDFs. This extra flexibility comes at the price of no formatting options, unlike URL2PDF. Your research will NOT be dated and URL stamped inside the generated PDF.

Turn this on in the bottom row of your Safari export options. When you choose it, your page will convert; you’ll have a choice of returning to Safari or continuing to PDF Converter. Open PDF Converter to export to Scrivener (or your markup app.)

Scrivener for iOS — Best Practices for Syncing @ScrivenerApp

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Learn to love it — Scrivener’s “Syncing with Dropbox” screen

You’ve just bought Scrivener for iOS! Yay! You’ve downloaded it to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod.

The first thing I suggest you do is carefully read and work through the Tutorial project that’s included with Scrivener. Especially I suggest reading the “Syncing” section carefully, and setting up your Dropbox sync folder to your satisfaction. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Urgent update 20 July 2016 11:49 AM PST:
There’s enough confusion about this on the Literature and Latte forums, that I’ll mention it now — do NOT use the “Sync with External Folder” option in either Mac or Window Scrivener to move your project to Dropbox for iOS Scrivener! That’s for lesser editors, not iOS Scrivener. For iOS Scrivener, just move your entire .scriv project (looks like a file on Mac, like a folder on Windows) to the folder inside Dropbox that you’ve chosen as your sync folder. Or copy it, or use “Save as…” from the File menu.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled blog post…

Are you frustrated because sync seems clumsier than in other iOS apps you’ve used, or because it’s not on [insert favorite cloud service here]? I get it; while it’s better than trying to use the older External Folder or Index Card syncing facilities from Mac to iOS, it’s still hardly a set-and-forget service. (Index Card in particular was a challenge…) If you’re curious about the technical reasons it’s the way it is, and in particular why it’s not on iCloud, I suggest reading the post Scrivener for iOS: Syncing on Literature and Latte’s blog.

Okay! You’ve selected a folder (or decided to use the Apps/Scrivener default folder) on Dropbox. You’ve maybe synced a copy of the tutorial project to it. Here are my suggested best practices for syncing.

Dropbox Hygiene:

  • Keep your sync folder clear! Everything in that folder gets downloaded to your iOS device, and there’s no point in taking up space on your device for files Scrivener can’t use. Only the Scrivener projects that you want to work on in iOS Scrivener and a few adjunct files (fonts, format preset files, and compile appearance files) should live there. If you’re like me, you’ve got a ton of Scrivener projects and an elaborate filing system already set up. I’ve chosen to move my active work-in-progress (WIP) projects to the sync folder, and keep aliases to them in their usual spots in my hard drive’s directory. Cluttering your sync folder will make your initial sync longer and uses space on your iOS device’s storage.

Mac and Windows Scrivener Setup and Projects Setup:

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In the Backups section of Preferences:

  • Turn on Automatic Backups, and check the “Backup before syncing with mobile devices” option. If hard drive space is a problem, turn on the “Compress Automatic Backups” option and set the “Only keep… xx backups” limit to a number that won’t overwhelm your space.

In the Import/Export section of Preferences:

  • Turn on the “Place documents affected by sync into a ‘Synced Documents’ collection” option.
  • If you like, turn on the “Automatically show the ‘Synced Documents’ collection after a sync” option.
  • I recommend against the “Take snapshots of updated documents” option. A copy of any conflicted document will always get saved in a “Conflicts” folder, and if you have your automatic backups set as above, you have a backup of your entire project before sync as well. Those unneeded automatic snapshots will start slowing up your downloads and taking much space on your iOS device if you do a lot of back-and-forth between iOS and your Mac or PC.

General changes you may want to make to your project (Optional!):

  • Keywords and custom meta-data can’t be accessed in iOS Scrivener. If you use these a lot, you may wish to store that information in your synopses or your document notes instead.
  • Project Notes also are not accessible to iOS Scrivener. If you’d like to have these available on your iOS I suggest making a top-level folder called “Project Notes” and moving all your project notes files to ordinary text files kept there.
  • Get rid of any snapshots that you don’t need. The old means of syncing Mac to iOS in particular resulted in a lot of automatic snapshots being created. These will get synced to iOS Scrivener but aren’t accessible there, and so will take up your device’s storage space and slow down your initial sync.

iOS Scrivener Setup:

Go to the iOS Settings App. Yes, that’s right, the main settings app for your device. Scroll down your list of apps and tap on Scrivener. There are many options in here that just aren’t discussed in the iOS Scrivener tutorial. Feel free to play with them, but for smooth syncing there are a few you’ll want enabled.

settings

  • First, Tap on Syncing and Sharing to reveal the options we want.
  • Be sure that “Auto-Detect Changes” is set to ON. This means that you will always be notified on the Projects screen if there are changes you need to download to your iOS device.
  • I suggest setting “Sync Projects on Close” to Always. This option makes saving your work back to Dropbox almost automatic.

You have some choices with “Warn if No Wi-Fi.” (This lets you limit cellular data usage without turning it off completely.)

  • If your data plan is generous and you’re not worried about running through it, choose “Never.” Now, every time you close a project your changes will be uploaded to Dropbox automatically, by Wi-Fi if available, and via cellular data if not.
  • If your cellular data plan is moderate and you need to worry somewhat about overage charges, choose “Over 10MB.” Now small changes (such as an afternoon of typing text) will be synced automatically as above. If you’ve accumulated more than 10 MB of changes (such as several big PDFs added to your research folder) and you’re on a cellular connection, Scrivener will display an alert that will let you wait on your upload until you’re within reach of Wi-Fi.
  • If you need to count every byte of bandwidth, choose “Always.” If you’re on Wi-Fi, changes will be synced automatically. But, if you’re on a cellular connection, you’ll always see that alert that lets you wait until you’re on Wi-Fi. If it’s critical that your changes get uploaded to Dropbox now, you can go ahead and do that via cellular data anyway.

Workflow Suggestions:

  • Always, always close your project before switching devices! On Mac or Windows, that project is both saved and synced to Dropbox by closing its window. On iOS, navigate back to the “Projects” screen. You’ll invoke the “Sync Projects on Close” option, and your changes will be uploaded to Dropbox with minimal intervention on your part.
  • When leaving your Mac or PC, wait to be sure that Dropbox has finished uploading your changes! This isn’t a problem on your iOS device, as the “Syncing” screen will stay visible until Dropbox is done, but checking your Dropbox app on Mac or PC to be sure that “Up to Date” is checked, will save — not your data, you can’t lose that — but your time to resolve conflicts.

Next up: Scrivener for iOS — How to Resolve Sync Conflicts