Beyond iOS Scrivener 1.2.1 #amwriting

Back in December, I wrote that I hardly use iOS Scrivener any more, and that remains true.

I’ve had a lot of time on my hands, lately, what with my coworking venue going out of business, and all the coffeehouses being closed (at least for purposes of sitting and writing for long periods.) The time I spent commuting had to go somewhere, and when I wasn’t too depressed to do anything except play video games, I found myself niggling at The iOS Scrivener Problem. (Yes, I know, I could have been productively writing. Still…)

Abandoning Scrivener totally is out of the question for me. I use the Scrivenings view constantly on my Mac, as well as stacked corkboards, the Outliner view, keywords, custom metadata… ad infinitum. (About the only features of Scrivener I don’t use are document notes, scriptwriting, and research. Oh, and the various LaTeX workflows.) I also use Aeon Timeline, and while theoretically I could use AT with Ulysses, I’ve got Scrivener all set up with it.

Ulysses… hmm. What about using Ulysses as an iOS editor for Scrivener projects? I can’t access many of my Mac Scrivener features in iOS Scrivener anyway. I already know and pay for Ulysses (I write this blog on it.) Ulysses has as slick an iOS-style interface as any app going. Any metadata I need to refer to (synopses, keywords, etc.) is available on iOS via Aeon Timeline. My research is already available on iOS via Evernote. I can even edit metadata in AT if I need to and sync it up to my Scrivener project on my Mac.

I’m no stranger to using non-Scrivener editors on iOS. In the Bad Old Days before iOS Scrivener, I used both the Index Card app and the Editorial app to edit my Scrivener projects, using Scrivener’s External Folder Sync feature. It was harder to describe than it was to do.

It’s taken me some experimentation. Scrivener 3 is more complex than Scrivener 2 so there are more pitfalls on the Scrivener side. Also, Ulysses is more complex than either of my old two iOS apps, though that turns out to be all to the good.

Nonetheless, I’ll be posting my new Mac Scrivener 3 <=> iOS Ulysses editing workflow in a series of several blog posts:

  1. Translating Between Scrivener 3 and Ulysses: Ulysses speaks Markdown. Scrivener speaks Rich Text. Rich text has a lot more formatting flexibility than Markdown. This means modifying some things in your Scrivener project, and avoiding certain Scrivener features. I’ll cover what you’ll need to do to your Scrivener manuscript to prepare it to work smoothly with Ulysses’s Markdown. WARNING: You may not be willing to live with these limitations. In that case, this isn’t the workflow you’re looking for.
  2. Setting Up Sync: I’ll reveal the nitty gritty of using either iCloud or Dropbox (dealer’s choice) to sync between Mac Scrivener 3 and iOS Ulysses. I’ll provide detailed sync settings for each app.
  3. Avoiding The Editing “Gotchas”: I’ll tell you how to sidestep the “OMG no!!!” moments, or at least face them with confidence.
  4. Compiling Your Project: I’ll describe the modifications you’ll need to make to your Scrivener compile formats to output your Ulysses-savvy manuscript.
  5. But What If I Don’t Want To Use Aeon Timeline?: I’ll go over some strategies for getting at least some of your metadata into Ulysses. Note that these methods are minimally, if at all, automated. If you update the metadata in Ulysses, you, and you alone, will be responsible for updating said metadata in your Scrivener project by hand. Be told.

iOS Scrivener Sync Altermatives, Part 1: iCloud Drive #amwriting

Many Scrivener users want iOS sync to work via iCloud Drive. Desperately. I hear from users on the Literature and Latte forums that they’re keeping their working Mac/iOS projects in iCloud Drive with no apparent problem.

Don’t do it! I also hear users who lose all their writing this way. It’ll work fine—until it doesn’t. Because of Scrivener’s unique “hidden multiple files” project format, the only recommended cloud service for “working” projects is Dropbox. Period.

Nonetheless, I’m going to suggest ways to use iCloud Drive to get work from Mac to iOS and back, and from iOS device to iOS device. These are file transfer solutions, not sync solutions. They’re not automatic. They’re not “transparent.” They don’t happen in the background without you doing anything (once you’ve set it up). If you’re looking for a “set it and forget it” solution, these aren’t it.

What they are, is safe. They use iCloud Drive. You can automate parts of the process. Still with me? Good! Let’s get into the setup.

System Requirements

iOS Scrivener 1.2 or greater
iOS/iPadOS 11 or greater
Mac Scrivener 2 or greater
Any version of MacOS that supports iCloud Drive

For iOS 11:
FileApp
For iOS 12:
The Shortcuts app, and a shortcut as described here: UnZIP and Open In…

Mac – iOS:

Mac side:

  1. First, set up your iCloud preferences for maximum safety when working with Scrivener and iCloud Drive
    1. Open the Mac System Preferences app, and open iCloud preferences.
    2. Next to iCloud Drive, click the Options… button.
    3. Turn off “Optimise Mac Storage”, in the bottom left of the options dialog. This is essential. Scrivener depends on your projects being physically present on your hard/ssd drive. If any portion of a project has to be downloaded from iCloud, you risk project corruption.
    4. For maximum safety, turn off “Desktop and Documents Folders.” This is less urgent than the “optimise Mac storage” setting, but if you don’t need this for other apps besides Scrivener, please turn it off. You will not use this to transfer Scrivener projects.
  2. Next, set up a transfer folder.
    1. Open up an iCloud Drive window. Create a new folder, and name it something obvious, like “Scrivener Transfers”.

    Work on your Mac Scrivener project as you usually do. When you’re ready to stop work on your Mac:

  3. From the File menu, select File->Back up->Back up to…

  4. In the Back up to: dialog, check the “Back up as ZIP File” box towards the bottom of the window. This is essential. Here’s where you make this process safe for your data. By making a ZIPped backup and transferring that, you save your project in a single file that isn’t vulnerable to sync corruption like an unzipped, .scriv project.

iOS side:

When you’re ready to work on your project on your iOS device:

  1. Open iOS Scrivener.
  2. Navigate to your projects screen if needed.
  3. If there are any copies of your project on your iOS device:
    1. Tap the “Edit” button at the top of your vertical projects button.
    2. Delete the iOS copies of the project. This will eliminate any possible confusion by working on an old copy of your project.
    3. Tap the “Done” button
  4. For iOS 12 or 13
    1. Open the Files app
    2. Navigate to the “Scrivener Transfers” folder (or whatever you named it)
    3. iOS 13+:
      1. Tap on the (most recent) backup project. The Files app will unZip the project. Wait until the project is unzipped AND uploaded to iCloud.
      2. Tap on the unZipped project. It will open in Scrivener.
    4. iOS 12:
      1. Create an “Unzip and Open In…” shortcut as described in this L&L forum post: https://www.literatureandlatte.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=287616#p287616
      2. Tap on your zipped project, and select Unzip and Open In… as your action.
      3. After unzipping, select Scrivener as your target. Your project will open directly in Scrivener.
  5. For iOS 11:
    1. Get a free third-party utility, FileApp. (Not the same as Files!!!)
    2. Open FileApp. Tap on the plus icon in the upper right corner. Then tap the import icon in the lower left.
    3. Tap Browse, navigate to your transfer folder on iCloud Drive, and select your zipped project. It will be copied to FileApp
    4. Still in FileApp, tap your project to unzip it there.
    5. Drill down into the unzipped project until you find a folder that has an extension of .scriv (very important!)
    6. Long press on that .scriv folder, then tap the export icon and open your project in Scrivener.

When you’re ready to put away your iOS device:

  1. Return to the projects screen.
  2. Tap the “Edit” button at the top of your vertical projects button.
  3. Select the project you just worked on.
  4. Tap the export button
  5. iOS Scrivener will make a zipped backup of your project
  6. Save to to the “Scrivener Transfers” folder (or whatever you named it) in Files
  7. (Optional) Delete the project from your iOS Scrivener app (select the project and tap “Delete” at the bottom of your screen) If you do this, you can avoid confusion about which version of your project you worked on last.
  8. Tap the “Done” button

Back to the Mac:

When you’re ready to start work on your Mac again:

  1. From the Finder, open the “Scrivener Transfers” folder (or whatever you named it) on the iCloud drive.
  2. Delete the unzipped project—it’s now old
  3. Double click on the most recent zipped version. Rename the unzipped project to something obvious (“My Project From iOS”) and drag it to your desktop.
  4. Go ahead and double-click the iOS version on your desktop to open it. Scrivener will incorporate the iOS changes. Close the project.
  5. Open your old Mac Scrivener project in your usual way.
  6. From the File menu, select File->Import->Scrivener Project
  7. In the Open dialog, select the project version from iOS that you dragged to your desktop.
  8. When you see the “Merge?” dialog, go ahead and select “Import and Merge”. After you’ve checked to be sure your changes made it over, you may delete the iOS version on your desktop (it’s secure in zipped form in your transfers folder.)

Optional Automation

If you’d like to have the “Mac Side” steps 3 and 4 automated, do this:

  1. From the Scrivener menu, select Scrivener->Preferences…
  2. Tap on the Backup icon
  3. Turn on these Backup preferences: Automatic backup, backup on close, backup on manual save, compress backups as ZIP files, use date in backup file names.
  4. Keep at least 25 backups.
  5. Choose your iCloud “Scrivener Transfers” folder as your backup location.

    Now whenever you either close your project, close Scrivener, or use cmd-s to save, a fresh zipped backup will be saved in your Scrivener transfers folder, named so you can tell them apart, ready to be opened in iOS Scrivener. If you don’t think you’ll turn off your Mac, close your project, or remember to type cmd-s, there’s one last automation step:

  6. Still in the Preferences dialog, tap on the General icon and select Automatic Quit. Put a checkmark beside automatic quit, and adjust the interval so that it’s not so short as to be annoying, but often enough that Scrivener will quit (thus making an automatic backup in iCloud) before you pull out your iPhone or iPad to work.

iOS – iOS

iOS to iOS is easier than the above in that we only need to worry about one environment. It’s harder because we have no way to automate any of this. Using this method to transfer files between two (or more!) iOS devices is totally dependent on user discipline to keep versions straight. Be told.

Prepare the Files app

  1. Open the Files app on your first iOS device, which I’ll call D-One.
  2. Next, set up a transfer folder in iCloud drive. Just as for Mac – iOS, create a new folder, and name it something obvious, like “Scrivener Transfers”.

Switching from D-One

When you’re ready to put away D-One, or switch to your other iOS Device, D-Two:

  1. Return to the projects screen.
  2. Tap the “Edit” button at the top of your vertical projects button.
  3. Select the project you just worked on.
  4. Tap the export button
  5. iOS Scrivener will make a zipped backup of your project
  6. Save to to the “Scrivener Transfers” folder (or whatever you named it) in Files
  7. (Optional) Delete the project from your iOS Scrivener app (select the project and tap “Delete” at the bottom of your screen) If you do this, you can avoid confusion about which version of your project you worked on last.
  8. Tap the “Done” button

Starting up D-Two

When you’re ready to work on your project on your second iOS device, D-Two:

  1. Open iOS Scrivener.
  2. Navigate to your projects screen if needed.
  3. If there are any copies of your project on D-Two:
    1. Tap the “Edit” button at the top of your vertical projects button.
    2. Delete the iOS copies of the project. This will eliminate any possible confusion by working on an old copy of your project.
    3. Tap the “Done” button
    4. For iOS 12 or 13
      1. Open the Files app
      2. Navigate to the “Scrivener Transfers” folder (or whatever you named it)
      3. iOS 13+:
        1. Tap on the (most recent) backup project. The Files app will unZip the project. Wait until the project is unzipped AND uploaded to iCloud.
        2. Tap on the unZipped project. It will open in Scrivener.
      4. iOS 12:
        1. Create an “Unzip and Open In…” shortcut as described in this L&L forum post: https://www.literatureandlatte.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=287616#p287616
        2. Tap on your zipped project, and select Unzip and Open In… as your action.
        3. After unzipping, select Scrivener as your target. Your project will open directly in Scrivener.
    5. For iOS 11:
      1. Get a free third-party utility, FileApp. (Not the same as Files!!!)
      2. Open FileApp. Tap on the plus icon in the upper right corner. Then tap the import icon in the lower left.
      3. Tap Browse, navigate to your transfer folder on iCloud Drive, and select your zipped project. It will be copied to FileApp
      4. Still in FileApp, tap your project to unzip it there.
      5. Drill down into the unzipped project until you find a folder that has an extension of .scriv (very important!)
      6. Long press on that .scriv folder, then tap the export icon and open your project in Scrivener.

Repeat the cycle as needed. Enjoy!

Scrivener iOS-Only Project Backup and Restore #amwriting

Scrivener syncing among various iOS devices and computers is a popular subject. The iOS Scrivener tutorial is a useful introduction which covers the basics. There are also several excellent Literature and Latte videos on this subject, as well as in-depth Knowledge Base articles.

What’s not covered is how to protect your data if all you have is iOS Scrivener. Maybe you just don’t have a Mac or a PC. Maybe you’re on vacation, or on a business trip, and only brought your iPad or iPhone. In these situations, how do you make a backup? If need be, how do you restore a backup to iOS Scrivener?

Fear not, there is a way. I’ll show you how with screenshots from iPhone Scrivener. You can also use the Restore process to restore a zipped backup from Mac or Windows Scrivener to iOS Scrivener.

Backup

Backup from iOS Scrivener is not hard, but the way to do it isn’t obvious—there’s no big button that says “backup.” You don’t need Dropbox for this; any cloud service that you can access through the Apple Files app will work. In fact, if you ordinarily use Dropbox for syncing among devices, I recommend you use a different service for backup.

  1. In iOS Scrivener, tap the Edit button at the top of the projects list.
    Edit Button
  2. Tap to select the project you want to back up.
  3. Tap the Share button at the bottom of the screen. You’ll see a brief message that says “Creating Archive.” This is when Scrivener zips the project into a backup file.
  4. Scrivener will display the standard iOS Share panel. Select the “Save to Files” option. Go ahead and save it anywhere you like, except “On my iPhone/iPad” (or Dropbox if you use Scrivener Dropbox syncing.) Yes, iCloud is fine, Google Drive works… any service you can access here will work. For this demo, I’ll save my backup to the Scrivener folder on iCloud Drive, but again, any cloud service connected to Files will do.

That’s it for backup! You’ve created a .zip archive from your project, and saved it to a cloud service. When you have an internet connection, that cloud service will save your backup on its servers.

Restore From Backup

The problem here is that iOS Scrivener can’t open a zipped project directly. You’ll need a utility that can open a zipped project, and send the result to iOS Scrivener. I’ll show you that utility, FileApp File Manager, and demonstrate how to use it to restore a zipped backup to iOS Scrivener.

  1. If you haven’t already, download and install FileApp File Manager by DigiDNA SARL onto your iOS device.
    FileApp (File Manager) by DigiDNA SARLFileApp (File Manager) by DigiDNA SARL
  2. Now open the Apple Files app, and select the backup you saved in step 4, above. Then tap the Folder (Move) icon.
  3. In Apple Files, tap On My iPhone > FileApp > Downloads. Then tap the Copy button.
  4. Open the FileApp app and tap on the Downloads folder.
  5. Still in FileApp, tap on the .zip file you just sent from Files. (If you can’t see it, pull down on the file list to refresh, then tap.)
  6. FileApp asks if you want to decompress the file; tap UnZIP.
  7. Tap on the folder that FileApp creates. Inside, you’ll find a folder with a .scriv extension (very important!)
  8. Long press on the .scriv folder, and tap the Actions button. FileApp displays the iOS Share panel. Select Open in Scrivener
  9. iOS Scrivener will open. Select a location for the project. Scrivener will create the project and open it for you.

You’ve now created a backup in iOS Scrivener, saved it to a cloud service, and restored the project from that backup to iOS Scrivener. You can use the Restore process to both restore iOS-created backups and import Mac- and PC-created zipped backups to iOS Scrivener.

(With thanks to Literature and Latte Tech Support and the users on the L&L Forums.)

iOS 12 v. Scrivener iOS: Image Links Lost

If you use Scrivener on both a desktop machine and on iOS, there’s an incompatibility between iOS 12 and Scrivener iOS you should be aware of.

The incompatibility regards images inserted as links via your desktop Scrivener. If you edit a document containing such an image link in Scrivener iOS, the image link will be erased.

It’s impossible to create such a linked image in Scrivener iOS, so this warning applies only to images created via desktop links. Here’s a link to the Scrivener Forums thread in which this is discussed in detail:

Missing Image Links

It’s on the list for the next Scrivener iOS revision, but that may not happen for a few weeks, as the developer (who is responsible both for Scrivener Mac and Scrivener iOS) is swamped. In the meantime, I suggest you turn on the following in your Scrivener Preferences (or Options, if you’re on Windows):

Scrivener > Preferences > Sharing > Sync > Mobile Sync “Take snapshots before updating documents.”

Turn on this preference in Scrivener Mac 3.x to preserve any image links. Similar options are available in the current versions of Scrivener Windows and Scrivener Mac 2.8.1 or newer.

If you turn this on, Scrivener will preserve a pre-Dropbox sync copy of any document you edit on iOS. Should you lose an image link, simply drag and drop the image link from the snapshot back into its rightful place in your edited document. If you don’t use Dropbox (you might instead use iTunes, AirDrop, or some other iOS file utility) then I suggest you make a backup or take snapshots manually before you incorporate any iOS edits into your desktop project version.

Update: Scrivener Special Abilities on New iPhones (XS, XS Max, & XR) @scrivenerapp

Today was the annual Apple announcement of shiny new iPhones. If you’re a Scrivener iOS user, and considering a new phone, you may wonder which of the new iPhone XS and XS models will display the Scrivener binder in landscape mode.

The plus-size iPhones display the Scrivener project binder in a small sidebar.

Literature and Latte have said that iOS Scrivener uses the iOS size classes to determine whether a device can display the Binder in landscape mode. The key to this is whether the device has “Regular” width in landscape mode. According to the size classes just published for the new iPhones, the following new models have landscape regular width and therefore will display the Binder in Scrivener:

  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XR

Other models that display the Binder:

  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 6S Plus
  • iPhone 6 Plus

Note that the new iPhone XS (not Max) will not display the Binder in the sidebar, just as the older iPhone X did not.

Aeon Timeline on iOS—Thoughts on Scrivener Workflows #amwriting

A moment has arrived that many of us who use both Scrivener and Aeon Timeline have long awaited: Aeon Timeline is available on iOS!

Scrivener and Aeon Timeline Meet on iOS

The iOS version of Aeon Timeline seems robust and full-featured; I can do almost anything with Aeon Timeline on iOS that I can on the Mac, with a few exceptions:

  • Screen real estate is cramped on iOS screens, so it might take several screens of information to display what’s available on one screen on the Mac. Don’t get me wrong; the display’s neither crowded nor sparse, and there’s nothing missing, but you might have to tap a couple of times more to see all three of your story arcs, for example.
  • Import and export options on iOS are limited—I suspect in large part due to iOS sandboxing.
  • I can’t sync with Scrivener.1 For that, I have to get back to my Mac.

Nonetheless, since I do use Scrivener on both platforms, and have built a timeline for my Scrivener project in Mac Aeon Timeline, having Aeon Timeline on iOS is wonderful.

  • On the iPad, at least, I can split my screen between Scrivener and Aeon Timeline. Thus, I can see all the information (dates, keywords, arcs, locations, tension) for my Scrivener docs that iOS doesn’t know about—while I’m looking at my Scrivener project. Even on iPhone, that data is now available even if I can’t have Scrivener on the screen at the same time.
  • On iPad or iPhone, I can now actually edit that data, and it will get incorporated when I get back to my Mac, sync Scrivener with iOS Scrivener, and then sync Scrivener with Aeon Timeline.
  • If you’re an iOS-only user, only titles, labels, and synopses would be synced anyway since you don’t have keywords or custom metadata. I’d suggest creating a timeline in Aeon from scratch, copying and pasting titles. You could still set up your dates, locations, arcs and tension in Aeon.

Thank you, Matt at Aeon Timeline, for this great little iOS app!


  1. Not syncing with Scrivener on iOS makes sense. Scrivener keeps the desktop project version largely unchanged on iOS, sequestering mobile changes in a special mobile area inside the project. If iOS Aeon Timeline starts messing with it, there’s a real possibility that it might create Scrivener sync conflicts. No one wants that. 

Scrivener Special Abilities on Plus-Size iPhones @scrivenerapp

The plus-size iPhones display the Scrivener project binder in a small sidebar.

Here it is, nearly July—and that means it’s New Phone season if you’re an iPhone user. You may wait until mid-September to get the latest and greatest straight from Apple’s development labs. Myself, I like to snipe for bargains in late August as the phone companies discount Apple’s older models, which will likely be discontinued or released with different (usually smaller) storage configurations.

But if you’re a Scrivener iOS user and have a small iPhone (iPhone SE, or any of the iPhones 5) or a medium-sized iPhone (6, 6S, or 7)—there are some little-known capabilities of Scrivener iOS on large iPhones (6 Plus, 6S Plus, and 7 Plus) that may influence your new phone decision.
Without the extra keyboard row on the iPhone, you can't access fonts, spacing, or indents.

A small iPhone (1136‑by‑640‑pixel resolution—example: iPhone SE) won’t even display Scrivener’s extra keyboard row in landscape mode, for the simple reason that if it did there would be no room on the screen to display text. Because several formatting functions can only be accessed from that keyboard row on an iPhone, as a practical matter, Scrivener can only be used in portrait mode on a small iPhone.

Medium iPhones (1334-by-750-pixel resolution—example: iPhone 7) get that extra keyboard row in landscape mode. With that increased screen space, Scrivener can be used effectively in any orientation on a medium iPhone.

If you’ve used Quick Reference in your project in iPad Scrivener, those files will be available as Quick Reference items for your iPhone Plus binder.

Ah, but on a large iPhone (1920-by-1080-pixel resolution—example: iPhone 7 Plus) you get so much more! The binder sidebar, unavailable on smaller phones, is available on a Plus-size iPhone in landscape. It’s like a teeny iPad. If you also have an iPad, and set up some Quick Reference files in your project on iPad, you can display them in that little binder on iPhone. (At this time, you can’t designate Quick Reference files on the iPhone, whatever its size. Maybe next year…)


UPDATE 1 JULY 2017—

Keith Blount of http://literatureandlatte.com says that for the next Scrivener iOS update, Quick Reference will be enabled for Plus-size iPhones! Huzzah!


I’ve gone ahead and gotten myself an iPhone 6S Plus, not even waiting for August—I wanted to lock in the 3.5mm headphone socket before it disappears from the product line, as well as enjoy the sidebar in Scrivener. Happy phone shopping!

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.



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