Have you ever bought a great creative software tool and that died before its time?
I’m very impressed with Scrivener so far. I tried it when it was still under development and just started working with the release version. It seems like an excellent tool for storing and organizing my thoughts. (Sadly, I come up with and forget ideas at an alarming rate every day. There must be a word for that. I just hope it isn’t “senility.”)
I’m a bit wary of diving in and depending on it. Years ago, at a Macworld Expo conference, I saw a demo of a program called ThoughtPattern. Like Scrivener, it helped organize thoughts and ideas and was developed for creative people. ThoughtPattern was revised once and then disappeared. Its total time on the market was less than 2 years – perhaps even less than 1 year (I’ve already commented on the reliabilty of my memory). I still have a ThoughtPattern document that I can’t open because the software just won’t run on my Mac’s current system software.
So I’m worried that Schrivener will be another ThoughtPattern for me – something I really like and depend on that just fades back into obscurity, leaving me with files I can’t open.
And yes, I do realize that when I see the end coming, I can export to RTF and save my text. But what of all the extra stuff – keywords, relationships, research material, etc. – that I’ve built in my documents? I’ve seen programs come and go – it always seems to me that the ones that are the most useful are the ones that go far before their time.
I guess my question – which may not be answerable – is how long will this program be around? Are the developers committed to it? Will there be enough of a user base to support updates and upgrades?
I don’t know what to tell you here, I’m afraid. I am the sole developer. Scrivener has been a passion for me. Will there be regular updates in the coming months? No: I’ve always been upfront about the fact that once 1.0 is out, I’m using it to write my book. That is why I created Scrivener - it wasn’t that I saw a gap in the market and wanted to capitalise; it was just that there were no tools that did what I wanted to help me organise my writing. It will be my primary writing tool and I am committed to making sure it continues for the foreseeable future. By “foreseeable”, I only mean that I can’t see the future, of course.
Here is the road plan:
In the next couple of weeks there will be a 1.01 release that will take care of a few very minor issues.
When Leopard is released, I will work like mad to ensure that Scrivener is perfectly compatible (there is no reason it should not be, of course) and look into what extras can be provided by Leopard in Scrivener “for free” (by which I just mean, without much work on my end).
The next big-ish push will be for 1.5, which I will probably start thinking about at the end of this year. That is when I will start looking at the bigger features users have suggested and will start thinking about implementing them.
I am not thinking about 2.0. That is far off in the future.
Inbetween all of this, there will be minor bugfixes as and when they are needed and the occasional minor tweak.
Essentially, for the foreseeable future I am determined to ensure that Scrivener works on the Mac. Eventually, of course, OS X will be replaced by something else. If that something else doesn’t use Cocoa and I had to start again, I might sink into despair.
Remember that although Scrivener is new in that it has only just hit 1.0, it has been in public beta-testing for nearly two years.
Oh, and just for the record, if something should happen in the distant future that meant I could no longer continue development, I would open-source it so that others could. That is a big “if”, though.
I have tried to price Scrivener to take into account that it is new software, too.
Hope that helps a little.
All the best,
(Scrivener designer, developer, documentation author and tea-maker)
Yes, it does indeed help. I finished the tutorial and read your thoughts on the future of the program. Your thoughts shared above also help. I can see you’re committed. But what’s more important is that you’re a USER of the program and will continue to develop it as long as you continue to use it.
I’m willing to show my support by buying my copy after only trying it 1 day. But be prepared for feature requests as I think of them! I use software hard and, like you, am always searching for the perfect solution. But unlike you, I couldn’t program my way out of a paper bag.
Good luck and thanks for making Scrivener available to the rest of us.
I’d rather worry about small developers who don’t necessarily develop for themselves. They are the ones who might be acquired by some big company, change their direction, perhaps even change the platform of their product. That’s something I don’t see here.
And in the end - migrating text files from computer to computer, from system to system, from software to software is part of the game. I still have files here that were written on an Amiga 500, and that was 20 years ago. They have been opened and converted in some word processors, just to ensure comptibility. Easy with plain text files, of course, and there’s always a loss of metadata like keywords, when switching to another program. If you want to avoid all that - stick to your typewriter.
My first three books were written in WordStar, the first two in WordStar on a CP/M machine. I still adore WS and would love to be able to use it now - which I can, of course, if I’m willing to run an ancient DOS machine. (I actually still have an ancient DOS machine, but it’s loud and cranky and a tad difficult to drag to the library.)
The nature of computers and software seems to be change, so one uses something until one doesn’t and then moves on. I can see Scrivener being in my future for quite a few years.
Fortunately, you are wrong! For those keyboard addicts among us, some links:
A complete list of all existing bindings available in Cocoa widgets, including the text editing area. Note that down the page there are already a number of Ctrl-key bindings which let you move the cursor around without leaving the home row: Default Mac OS X System Key Bindings
This can all be changed, however! Using a configuration file in your ~/Library, you can override and add key bindings to the system. While it is possible to create a custom Cocoa key binding file by hand, here is a handy tool that can help you out: KeyBindingsEditor
It still assumes you know what you are doing, however, so here is a handy reference to get you started: Mac OS X Key Bindings
As an example of what can be done with key binding override files, here is a file that will make the Mac’s text area act like Emacs, using the Option key as the meta key: Emacs Key Bindings
My first word-processing was in 1978 on an IBM 3670 mainframe, using CMS for operating commands and SCRIPT for the text files. You embedded commands in the far-left field, as in .i began a line of italics. The CRT displayed a single 80-character line, in keeping with punch-card conventions. Full-screen editors appeared around 1980.
With that system I wrote several magazine articles and two books, both typeset and indexed from SCRIPT files. In the 1980s I finally used word processors, first WordStar, then WordPerfect and finally MS Word on the Mac.
Worse, I’m afraid: I was at the Mattel Intellivision level at that point. My dissertation was written in a flat knee deep in paper, on a rented typewriter with a cool hi-tech one line LCD, while a very patient girlfriend fed me meals that tasted like wood shavings (not her fault!). A few months later I discovered Macwrite on the first Mac 128- which I carried daily in a huge backpack to my first magazine job.
Amber, thanks! You lost me at #1 (I have no idea what ‘bindings’ are), really lost me at #3, then I came back again and danced at #5. At least I do know where to switch out the ctl and caps lock keys.
The WS commands I miss the most are the cursor controls and the simple deletes: del word to the right, ltr, line to beg or end or . or whatever. Block mark and moves, too, though I think the two-key ones are probably gone.
Keith, got me beat! Actually, howarth had me beat with the old IBM. I played on one of those but never wrote anything.
I so remember those 300-baud acoustical couplers. I kept a handset permanently embedded in one and just switched out the phone cord.
I wrote my first first book on an old Underwood typewriter (which I still have), just to prove to myself I could write something that long. It has never and will never see the light of day again.
Yeah, I know, no one really cares, but it’s fun to remember - and to enjoy the fruits of all those years of evolution with grand programs like Scrivener (and DevonThink, and…). I’m working on a very large novel (not only in scope but in pages) and Scrivener is the first program to let me feel not quite so overwhelmed. As much as I enjoyed the old days, I do NOT want to go back.
Ha, typewriter. I wrote my first short stories using a combination of even more ancient hard- and software: Paper and Pencil (no trademark)!
I still do that today occasionally.
But being able to change names and search for things is so convenient that anything longer than a three page short story will probably never be authored by me (edit: using paper and pencil, that is). I still have to prove that this increase in tool availability enables me to merely equal Dostojewski…oh well.
I still do a lot of editing with paper and pens for two reasons, it helps me divorce the editing process from the writing process, and secondly I just think better with a pen and paper because that is what I am used to. When I think of things to change while writing, I use the annotation feature.