Adding AI tools to Scrivener

I was wondering if Scrivener is planning or considering adding AI tools to the software. Like what Word is doing with MS 365 Copilot. Or is AI off the table? Even if it was a paid upgrade or even subscription (which I usually hate but understand it might be needed to use ChatGPT tech).

Until they do, you can “write” in ChatGPT (or equiv) then copy/paste into your Scrivener projects. macOS and Windows already provides that level of “integration”.

What would AI integration in Scrivener look like anyway?

How much more would you pay for Scrivener if they added something which they would certainly have to license and probably at a non-trivial cost?

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Judging solely by the lack of integration from the Scrivener side with any of the 3rd party grammar tools, my I’m-just-a-customer guess is a big fat no.

If L&L doesn’t feel it’s in their wheelhouse to pick a tool and offer integrated grammar checking, it follows that they’d feel the same about AI integration.

Best,
Jim

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Yeah I get that feeling too. :grinning:

Not sure what it would look like, but I suppose something similar to Sudo Write or having the chat box appear in the Inspector where you can find notes, etc. AI apps geared towards writing are charging around $10-$20/month so that’s my mindset when it comes to pricing.

There are AI tools being created for writing, so maybe it’s not a field Scrivener wants to get into, just my wish list since Scrivener is a great app for writing.

I’m a little old fashioned and having had a small bit of experience in a corporate research environment building/researching AI tools … I’d not want to see Scrivener to get into that space. It’s fine as it is.

Integrating everything is often a trap.

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L&L’s philosophy seems to be, “We’ll build the best environment we can for you to create & organize your long form texts, but it’s 100% on you to come up with the words.” :grinning:

Best,
Jim

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ChatGPT’s sources are dubious. I catch it making grammatical mistakes. I agree that integration is a trap.

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Good point. I recall a discussion regarding embedded fonts in compiled eBooks. The answer read like “rather not” (to avoid potential licensing issues that could backfire for L&L). That alone puts some rather huge question marks after ChatGPT.

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That pretty much sums it up.

Part of it is deciding which tool to integrate, as we see for example with reference management software: people have strong opinions, and we’d inevitably choose the “wrong” option for some people.

Part of it is support issues: there have been a few cases where we did provide fairly close integration, only to have the third-party vendor abandon the platform or otherwise become unreliable. Plus you need only look at the various Scrivener + synchronization threads to see how users can end up blaming us for other people’s software.

And part of it, as with fonts, is the licensing issue. I expect there is a huge legal storm coming, as it’s not at all clear whether (a) using material in an AI’s training set is “fair use,” (b) whether the AI’s output is copyrightable at all (and if so by whom?), and (c) how (a) and (b) will interact with all the various local jurisdictions that might be home to Scrivener users. We very much do not want to need to become international copyright experts.

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We are not interested in any form of subscription model.

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Yesterday, I asked ChatGPT to recommend a book on a particular subject. It invented a book that did not exist, and tried to convince me it did. Even made up a fake ISBN number. I contacted the “author” to double check, and they were nice enough to reply to say, nope not me.

OpenAI calls this “hallucinating.”

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It seems everyone wants to jump on the AI-bandwagon but what would such tools do or provide? The quasi-AI rules for the grammar tools that other users want integrating encode a specific view on grammar and spelling — an ossified view in my opinion — and I do not want them because as an applied linguist I know that language is constantly changing under our hands and eyes, between our lips and ears.

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I prefer to call it “making stuff up.” “Hallucination” implies that it’s a temporary deviation from ChatGPT’s otherwise solid understanding of reality. (Lol.)

The genre of “ChatGPT makes stuff up” is quite large. It can summarize web pages that don’t exist, too.

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Without going to discussion is the AI useful or the end of the life as we know it (it is good for procrastination, at least): if M$365 can read/write RTF-files, one can synchronize to external folder, and attempt to “edit” the RTF-file with Microsoft ChatGPT 4, then sync back to the Scrivener project. I tested this with Jupyter Lab with a ChatGPT 3,5 extension. Requires an OpenAI API-key (“free” for trials up to some variable number of USD). Works fine and I had some good laugh with the proposed plot “completions”!
(One needs to clean non-rtf-files and an extra hidden folder Jupyter creates before syncing back to Scrivener - Vertobal understands both Jupyter and RTF: probably cut-and-paste from Scrivener into the OpenAI’s browser interface would be actually faster, but this was just a proof of concept.)

I have used a sync folder for years for proofreading with LibreOffice Write - they provide an API for extensions like Antidote . Only software I am using and which is interfacing/synchronizing with Scrivener’s offline, directory/file-based “XML API” is Aeon Timeline. It is a similar workflow than above (sync - edit - sync) only that “sync” is done by Aeon Timeline, not by Scrivener. Syncs can go wrong. I use TortoiseHg (Mercurial version control) on the entire Scrivener project folder to protect my work for eventual failures in synchronization with third party programs.

It is L&L’s choice to isolate their run-time and we will need to live with that - the external sync folder is a good compromise to interface with other tools, while not contributing to the workflow efficiency.

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AI can potentially provide a great deal to writers. The language models don’t quite produce quality prose (at least not yet, give it another year or two)—it tends to be too flowery and melodramatic with too much telling and not enough showing. However, some of the AI models can generate some great ideas to build on from generating ideas (everything from writing propts to new characters, to world-building), providing a back-and-forth sounding board for creating dialog, developing conflict, analyzing your writing for everythign from structure to character development to grammar, spelling, and puctuation. It can even translate your work into other languages (with fair accuracy even now). It can help create all that marketing meterial (including book blurbs), help plan out, organize, and even write blog posts (AI is better with non-fiction than fiction). I’ve found it to be a great help in overcoming writer’s block. They still have some kinks to work out, but I think AI models have the potential to be one of the best tools in any writer’s toolbox. Right now you can use things like Google Bard, ChatGPT, or Claude 2.0 (one of the best for fiction writers) separately, then bring the ideas into Scrivener. As the AI growns and improves, however, it might be beneficial to have it all integrated. There’s already other software that does this with most of the features found in Scrivener. I don’t like the idea of having additional monthly subscription fees added to my use of Scrivener (maybe a pay-as-you-system), but given where this technology is going, those developing this software at L&L would be foolish NOT to be thinking about this now. In a couple of years it may be too late and Scrivener will be left behind.

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I use Bard, ChatGPT, Claude and other AI LLMs for various tasks (but not writing except for perl/python code). Much of the time the output needs to be improved because it only give a general answer no matter how specific the input question and also often gets things wrong. It also includes presumptions about what is in use, for example I wanted to do some very specific things with sed but the ChatGPT solution did not work because their LLM data only covered the GNU version of sed not the version that ships by default with macOS and this despite my question text specifically including macOS as the environment. Even today when I posed a specific question about LibreOffice’s BASE component (the database) the output only mentioned Writer, after some refinement the output mentioned Calc (the spreadsheet), after several more rounds the output did include BASE but only in general and not with the specifics that my question and refinements mentioned. Had similar things occur when asking specific questions, for example about SQLite3, only to be given responses that were incorrect, misleading or simply down-right wrong.

With all my experiences I remain highly pessimistic about the utility of AI chatbots in general and the inclusion within Scrivener.

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It definitely depends on subject matter. If you are writing a blog about coding, for example, the AI will likely be out of date. ChatGPT 4.0, for example, only includes information up to September 2021. As fast as the world of coding (and computing in general) changes, the information produced by AI is almost out of date the moment it becomes available on the model. For blog subjects that don’t change much, like writers writing about writing, what was true ten years ago (or even 50 years ago) is not much different than today. You will always have to rewrite anything produced by the AI to deal with “halucinations”, clarity, voice, plot, etc. Plus, although it hasn’t been precicly established yet, there could be legal issues with copying and pasting directly from the AI without editing. However, I stand by my view that AI can be a great help to writers of fiction when used for world building, character creation and development, story structuring, and inspiration. I’ve been having trouble with one particular scene in my latest novel for months (almost a year now, actually). I’d go and work on another part of the book and come back, and still I got nothing. This past Saturday I made use of Google’s Bard (Gemini). It let me look at the scene from a new angle and I cleared up my writer’s block in a day. That chapter is now complete.

Without it being integrated into Scrivener.

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FWIW, my (human) writers’ group can usually get me unstuck in a matter of minutes.

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