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!

How to (90% Automatically) Track Scrivener (Mac or Windows) Word Counts in Beeminder #amwriting

url-minder
Markos Giannopoulos posted a great article in his blog, Tracking writing goals: Scrivener + Dropbox + Beeminder. His is an excellent way to track word counts from iOS Scrivener if iOS is all you use—but as Mr Giannopoulos notes, the word counts will be higher than true. That’s because all the files Beeminder will be counting are RTF files—which contain formatting information that Beeminder will happily include as words you wrote in addition to the real words you wrote.

If you have either Windows or Mac Scrivener, and you’d like a truly accurate count Beeminded (almost) automatically, read on.

This technique uses the External Folder sync capability of Mac and Windows Scrivener (available in the Windows version since the release of iOS Scrivener) and Dropbox—independently of iOS Scrivener sync. I tried to use Google Drive, but was unable to get word counts through to Beeminder. Sadly for iCloud Drive fans, I couldn’t even get iCloud Drive started.

Is this technique any easier or more accurate than always compiling a plain text version of your project whenever you’d like to update your Beeminder word count (as Mr Giannopoulos also suggests in his post)? If you don’t often add new text documents to your project, and you usually close your projects, then my technique can automate tracking accurate word counts via Beeminder. If you add a new text document or three daily, or you leave your project window open for days, compiling to plain text may work better for you.

I’ll be describing:

  1. How to set up an External Folder sync to Dropbox that will contain all and only the Scrivener files (in a particular project) that you want to Beemind.
  2. How to add those files to a new goal in Beeminder.
  3. How to Beemind any new Scrivener files you may add to your project and want to track in your existing goal.

Setting Up External Folder Sync for Beeminder

First of all: If you’re using Dropbox to sync with iOS Scrivener—this is completely separate. Don’t use the folder you use to sync with iOS Scrivener for this. ANY other Dropbox folder will do.

Filename caution: Once you start Beeminding a text in your Scrivener project with this technique, changing its name inside Scrivener will break its Dropbox link. You’ll need to fix the link in Beeminder to keep your word count accurate.

  1. To make this work, you’ll need to have the Dropbox app installed on your Windows or Mac computer. This will put a “Dropbox” folder on your hard drive. That’s the place you’ll be telling Scrivener to sync with.
  2. Make a new folder somewhere in your Dropbox folder (that isn’t where you sync iOS). I suggest you name it something obvious like BeeminderWordCount or MyProjectWordCount.
  3. Open your Scrivener project in Mac or Windows Scrivener. Consider the documents you want to Beemind. If it’s just all the text documents in your draft folder, great! Otherwise, I suggest you decide on a keyword for the texts you want to Beemind (“WordCount” or whatever you prefer) and assign that keyword to the texts you want to count.
    1. If you’re using a keyword, search for that keyword and save the search as a collection. Usually the collection has the search term as its name, so in my example, the collection would be named “WordCount.”
  4. Now select File > Sync > With External Folder…
    You’ll get a dialog box like the one on the right (or above.)

    1. Click the “Choose…” button and select the folder you set up in step 2.
    2. Tick the box for “Sync the contents of the Draft folder.”
    3. If you’re using a keyword search collection as in Step 3.A, tick the “Sync only documents in collection:” box and select your search collection from the dropdown menu.
    4. Make sure the “Format for external Draft files:” dropdown has “Plain Text” selected. This is what’s going to make your word counts more accurate.
    5. CAUTION: Do not tick the “Prefix file names with numbers” box! This option prefixes numbers to the text filenames in Dropbox to show their position in the Binder. That might cause several file name changes in Dropbox every time you moved a file within your project, breaking many Dropbox shareable links. You’d then need to update those links in Beeminder to keep your word count accurate.
    6. Tick the “Check external folder on project open and automatically sync on close” box. This is what’s going to make updating the Beeminder count (almost) automatic.
    7. Finally, click the “Sync” button. Your sync is now set up, keeping plain text copies of the files in the folder you’ve set up for Beeminder to count.

Whenever you quit Scrivener or close your project, the synced files will be updated automatically. If you don’t close your project ever, you can update those files by selecting “File > Sync > With External Folder Now.”

How to Set Up Your Beeminder Goal

  1. Go ahead and start your goal in Beeminder, using URLMinder as your data source.
  2. You’ll come to a page with a place to insert URLs for Beeminder to track for word count (see right or above.) In a fresh browser window or tab, open Dropbox.com.
  3. In your browser, in Dropbox.com, navigate to and open the folder you created in Step 2 of “Setting Up External Folder Sync for Beeminder” above (EFS for short). You’ll find a folder inside named “Draft.” Open that “Draft” folder.
  4. Now you’ll see a list of the texts that you added to EFS in EFS Step 4.G. For each of those files:
    1. Copy a “sharable link.”
    2. Return to the Beeminder page and paste the “sharable link” into the URL list box. Be sure to tap “enter” after each one.
  5. Now you have a list of the texts you’d like to word count, each separated from the next by an “enter.” Go ahead and finish setting up your Beeminder goal.

You’re done! Be sure to close your project or choose “File > Sync > With External Folder Now” in Scrivener each day to log your word counts to Beeminder.

How to Beemind new Scrivener files

One of the joys of Scrivener is the ability to break the stuff you’re writing into small chunks so that the text never gets overwhelming. But that means adding a file, which means adding another file to the list that Beeminder tracks.

I wish that I could tell you that Beeminder will automatically start counting new text files that appear in your EFS folder—but it won’t. It only monitors individual files. So whenever you add a new text to your Scrivener project that you’d like to have counted, you’ll have to add it to the URL list that you created when you set up your goal.

First, if you’re using a keyword search as in EFS Step 3.A, be sure to add the keyword to your new file(s).

After you close your project (or choose File > Sync > With External Folder Now), the new file(s) will be added to your EFS folder.

From there it’s pretty easy—just go to the “Settings” area of your Beeminder goal and scroll down. You’ll find the URL list there. Follow Step 4 above to add your new URLs to the list. But—you will need to remember to do this for every new file you want counted. (This is the other 10% of the “90% automatically”.) But if you were doing this in any other writing software you’d still have to remember to add new files unless you kept your work in a monolithic plain text file.

That’s it! Happy word count tracking!

Outlining, At Last? #amwriting @ScrivenerApp

Story Genius, by Lisa Cron

Story Genius, by Lisa Cron is the Unified Field Theory of storytelling.


Those of you who have been watching me struggle with Pantsing v. Plotting (iThoughts and the Dreaded Outline, Movin’ On Down the Productivity Highway, Back To Work, Or NaNoWriMo Waits For No One, et. al.) know that I’ve blogged several “breakthroughs” about outlining that, well, have come to almost nothing. There’s always been something “wrong” with the systems I’ve looked at—Too rigid. Too much information to fill out that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with my story. Terminology straight out of an MFA program that doesn’t mean anything to me—even after I look it up. Directions to not let the outline be a straitjacket—but then I can’t let go of treating it like an engineering specification. Something. Always. Doesn’t. Work.

Well, if I can’t use Story Genius, by Lisa Cron to plan a novel, I’ll—strongly consider giving up writing and starting a knitting blog.

Ms. Cron explains why just sitting down and writing doesn’t work. She explains why plotting doesn’t work. She explains why most character bios are bunk. Instead, her thesis is that a story is NOT a series of things that happen (plot), not even if it has some interesting characters. Rather, it is a series of events that force its protagonist to change, to learn some specific lesson in some specific way. Every story. Yes, that one. That other one, too. Even “Grog Survived Being Almost Eaten By A Cave Lion.” Her list of academic references are impressive. Her system is—a lot of hard work.

But it’s work I need to do.

Ms Cron suggests that a would-be author (me) needs to select the lesson that the protagonist will learn in the course of the novel, and create very specific backstory that will make it absolutely necessary for the protagonist to learn that lesson. This creates a coherent focus on the specific theme I choose for the novel.

What? Me, focus? (Laughs derisively.)

Exactly. The world of Fane of Air and Darkness (FOAAD), The Bully Trap, and several other partly-finished stories, is one I’ve been thinking about, building, and creating a history regarding, for more than five years. That’s a lot of backstory, most of it sloshing around in my head. Following Ms Cron’s “blueprinting” process is forcing me to narrow my focus to only those backstory elements that have to do with FOAAD, and to write them down in sufficient detail to build a story with them. It forces me to look at contradictions. It forces me to put certain aspects of the Fraser and Spencer universe aside, as they will confuse the issue of FOAAD.

It’s slow going. Things that have nothing to do with FOAAD keep wanting to take over my brain and my keyboard. There are things that I know I’m going to have to cut from what I’ve already written. There are things I’m resolutely going to have to decide to, well, explore in a sequel. And of course, I’ve spent far more hours than I probably ought to have done, re-structuring my Scrivener project to accommodate this new method. (If you’re interested, Gwen Hernandez wrote an excellent article on this, Using Scrivener with Story Genius and included her Scrivener template which I’ve shamelessly perverted to my nefarious purposes.)

Dammit.

I want to shove it all in, and it’s hard work building a dam to keep irrelevant (for now) stuff out. But already I can feel the urgency building in my backstory—which is going to explode on the page in the story itself.

Ok, if writing a novel were easy everyone would do it. But keeping cats out of my knitting is much more soothing.

Revisiting Beeminder, January 2017 #amwriting @ScrivenerApp

My Beeminder Goals

I’ve expanded my use of http://beeminder.com quite a bit.


Beeminder has undergone a few changes in the past year—they’ve cut back on their free options (though it’s still usable free—just not as generously as in the past.) As a result, I’ve started a $4/month subscription. It’s worth it to me, just to be able to run more than three goals at once.

As you can see above, I’ve actually got seven Beeminder goals active. I’ve stated previously that I know I can’t handle more than three or four—what’s changed?

First, I’ve gotten myself a Bluetooth blood pressure monitor (Withings) as well as a WiFi-connected scale (also Withings). With these in place, a lot of data entry has gone poof. Instead, I can look at the tracking in Beeminder and say, “Oh, [Deity of choice], have mercy! WTF caused THAT spike?” and do something about it, without doing anything more than actually taking the readings. As long as all I have to do to get data into Beeminder is take readings, wear my fitness tracker, and work on my Mac (RescueTime), I’m good.

In fact, all is good except my word count. Lately my word count, to use the old Saturday Night Live line, “really bites the big one.”

I can’t get my word count into Beeminder directly. Scrivener remains stubbornly unconnected to things like IFTTT and Zapier. While I can track the amount of time I use Scrivener in RescueTime, I consider it highly unlikely that anything more sophisticated than tweeting word count automatically will appear in Scrivener 3.0. (Prove me wrong, Keith! Please!) Still, tracking word count in Beeminder is pretty hopeless if I have to have the discipline to do data entry every. Single. Freaking. Day. Even if Beeminder reminds me. Pleads with me. Flat-out nags me…

BUT—I’ve realised that I’ve stopped tracking only activities directly related to writing (Scrivener use, iThoughts use, Wikipedia (maybe), Evernote in my Writing notebook (maybe)). I started broadening what I had RescueTime consider “writing” back in October when I started the publishing push for The Bully Trap. That information is valuable, but it’s not writing time.

So I’m splitting “writing” into two goals—“Writing” and “Business_Hours”. Business hours will retain a goal of 22 hours per week. Writing hours will cut back drastically to 3.5 hours per week (included in the business hours goal) to make it easier to get started again. If it looks like I might derail, I’ll scale back the writing hours goal further, until I can succeed—and then start increasing it again. As I do this, I’ll adjust the activities (websites, apps, etc.) which are allocated to each category—on a daily basis at first, until they’re mostly right again.

I have to fight off feeling discouraged. It feels like starting over again—but it’s not. It’s cleaning up my act.

Besides, I have some True Fans out there. I have to keep on keeping on—for them. I’ve promised.

Want the Early Skinny on Scrivener 3.0? You Won’t Get It Here #amwriting

OK, so an email came recently asking me if I want to be on the Scrivener 3.0 beta test panel when it happens.

I said no.

I can hear you now: “What are you thinking, Silver Dragon? Why wouldn’t you want check out all the cool new features and find all the bugs in Scrivener 3.0?”

The short answer is that I don’t want to spend hours chasing bugs. I’m too much of a nitpicking perfectionist—and my vision of perfection doesn’t always match that of Literature and Latte. Besides, I did that for a living too damn long.

Yes, I produced some good blog posts as a result of being part of the iOS Scrivener beta team. But I’m convinced that the hours I spent on beta testing materially delayed releasing The Bully Trap. Besides, it’s stressful. If Scriv 3.0 is buggy when it comes out, getting work done with Scriv 2.8 will be… challenging. Not that I would—I’d spend hours reproducing bugs, documenting bugs, explaining bugs, explaining bugs again, finding more bugs that were uncovered after the first dozen were squashed…

The end result would be six weeks of beta in which I got one week of writing done. Again. No.

Just no.

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.
2016-07-26 15.29.35
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

2016-07-14 11.57.44

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:

SkitchBoth
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