API for importing from evernote.

This is the first suggestion of any new feature for Scrivener that I’ve made after many years using scrivener (unless you count beta fix suggestions as new features). I haven’t offered new suggestions, because I find that the vision of scrivener is so in line with my own that I don’t want to slow the process down in any way with more to read and distract from the thing that works so well already. Consequently, I find myself a natural scrivener evangelist when I encounter people that ask what writer’s tools I prefer, and have probably been responsible for more sales of scrivener in L.A. than anyone you could have hired.

That being said, I think that I have an idea that would be easy to implement, and would not bloat scrivener in the least. Evernote is a ubiquitous capture device that has found a place with myself and many others who use digital notebooks. I have heard others on these forums describe how they cut and paste from evernote into scrivener all the time. Other people on this forum have asked for things like iPhone apps that could sync to scrivener, etc. I think that one way to appease those two crowds with a very minimal investment in time (possibly outsource the little plugin to elements of the scrivener community) would be to make a little evernote syncing utility. It would only have to let you choose which notebook you wanted to keep synced (or tag, or however it would be best implemented) and then it could keep those notes in that notebook synced with a particular scrivener project. The people that are clamoring for an iPhone app would have one in that they could just use the evernote iphone app, and it would also further the abilities of scrivener in that it would make it even more useful for writing and research in that all of your capturings from all sources would be brought into the project. Evernote has released their api, so that it is very easy and legal for people to develop things that take advantage of exporting/importing out and into evernote, and it wouldn’t necessarily have to be something that you would add to scrivener, just a little program or plugin that is allowed to buddy up with scrivener. Of course, it could end up small enough that it might make sense to just add it as a feature to scrivener. Of course, part of what makes this an easy thing to make is that it isn’t some earthshaking new feature. People already capture things in evernote, they already manually find the notes that they wanted to add to scrivener, and they already manually cut and paste the notes that they find. This would just automate something people already do, and possibly make it a little more powerful.

You may think this is a little idea, but I think it is a big one!! Go Evernote!!

I’d like to second, or rather, third, this suggestion.

Evernote is terrific as a ubiquitous capture device, but the app is not that great itself for using all of the info (web clippings, screen captures, directly entered notes etc…) that is in there.

Were the Evernote API to be used to link up with Scrivener, I would envisage something like being able to add a folder under Research that was dynamically linked to a particular evernote tag (or combination of tags). Although I mostly work on one project at a time, I get ideas – or come across web articles etc. – relating to other projects all the time, and at the moment the easiest thing to do is to dump them into Evernote tagged by the project name. I would like to be able to have a folder in each Scrivener project automatically suck in any new notes with that project name tag.

I also have some generic tags – ‘snipalogue’ for example is for snippets of dialogue that might come in handy in an as-yet to be determined project. So I would like a folder under Research in each of my scrivener projects to be linked to the snipalogue tag in evernote where I can readily see all of those entries, too.

In an ideal world I would be able to make changes in Scrivener and have them feed back into Evernote, but presumably that would be more work, and I’d be quite happy to have it read-only.

Oh, and another thing.

Not specifically about evernote, but still related to bringing clippings etc. into Scrivener.

I see there is a Scrivener service for bringing in clippings from other apps - bits of webpages in Safari, for example, or static content from evernote for that matter. As far as I can tell, these clippings only get added to the current Scrivener project, true? But I may be reading a web article and see something that relates to a project that is not my active project. It would be nice if a dialogue box came up that allowed me to select which project the clipping was to be sent to.

Maybe Scrivener can’t update a .scriv file unless it is open, that’s a potential obstacle, I guess.

OK, if that were the case, then maybe different Scrivener projects could share a universal clippings folder. Anything that gets dumped in there can be seen whichever project I’m in. If it is project specific, when working in that project file I could then drag it out into a local folder.

I’m still finding my way around the software and trying to come up with a workflow that suits me, but I’m really happy with what I’ve found so far.


Might it be easier to simply support the .enex doctype? Evernote exports notes as XML files, with a published DTD (xml.evernote.com/pub/evernote-export.dtd). The content area of the note is basic HTML. Since many notes can be exported into a single .enex file, Scrivener could form them into individual Binder entries using the internal XML structure.

I haven’t any idea of the best way to accomplish this, but the proposal is great! I spend way too much time trying to figure out what I’ve already copied from Evernote into Scrivener and when I did it, in case I had occasion to change the Evernote note later. I’d happily pay for Keith’s upgrade if this feature were included in 2.0.

I’d like to fourth (or is it fifth) what the others have been saying. I get ideas when I’m away from my primary computer that I need to sort and place into various Scrivener projects. Remembering to transfer what I’ve noted is almost as much hassle as remembering the details themselves. Also, at present the process is one way. It’d be great if Scrivener users could have a common digital notepad that’s actively shared among all the devices supported by Evernote. (This would also provide a quasi-Scrivener for the iPhone.) Change what is in one, and what’s presented in all the others changes. It would leverage Evernote’s support and synching for multiple platforms.

Someone who’s forced to use Windows on the job could drop in story ideas or rough drafts in Evernote as they pop into his head. On the way home by bus, he could refine those ideas on his iPhone, again using Evernote. And when he gets home, like magic, there they are both in his home computer’s Evernote account and (this is the important part), in an Evernote folder inside Scrivener.

The key would lie in teaching Scrivener to know how to exchange and display Evernote data that’s inside one particular Evernote folder. All the files inside the Evernote folder Great Novel 1 would appear in Scrivener’s Evernote folder for that novel. All the files in the Evernote folder Great Novel 2 would appear in Scrivener’s Evernote folder for the second novel. And if possible, the folders could handle PDFs and webpages inserted in Evernote, even iPhone pictures of places that are story ideas. Research done elsewhere would be ready and waiting inside Scrivener when we get back home.

In short, Scrivener and Evernote would be a match made in heaven.

Is there actually an Evernote API for this sort of thing? Obviously I can’t implement integration with every single application out there - the import/export features in Scrivener already allow a high level of file exchange, even if it means having to use the Finder as an intermediary. Of course, if there is an API that allows this sort of thing easily, let me know.
All the best,

I think this is an example that points to the importance of building an Applescript dictionary for Scrivener. Writing Applescripts (with a touch of “do shell script”…) that call the Evernote API and would be a fairly simple task. One just needs a way for the Applescript to speak to Scrivener. KB I think Applescript would be a much better priority b/c it would open up Scrivener to all kinds of integration with other apps, rather than just Evernote. IMHO.


I’m delighted to see this idea getting some attention. Please note that Evernote just brought out an update for its Mac version a week ago that features an export in HTML format. That’s not a great match for Scrivener by itself because Scrivener puts each Evernote note in a separate folder with a truncated name, but it may be a clue to how notes work. Also, New York Times has a piece today nytimes.com/2009/05/28/techn … ote&st=cse focused on note-taking programs in which Evernote gets a nice boost.

They have their API documentation here.

I love this idea too. There’s been some talk of Curio on another thread, and they’ve integrated very nicely with Evernote. Always thought it would be a natural for Scrivener as well.

I deliberately went and registered just so I could come and add my support for this.

Keith: it doesn’t have to be Evernote, but eventually I feel Scrivener really will need cloud support. It is the lack of cloud support that prevents me from making the leap to Scrivener, anyway.

Anyway, here’s the letter I wrote before finding this thread!:

Hi Keith,
I love the feature set of Scrivener and I am considering switching to it.

I’ve been doing all my writing work in Evernote. Evernote is an amazing program, and one could set up notebooks in Evernote to mimic some of Scrivener’s strengths, but its text editor is absolute canary. It can’t really handle plain text responsibly, let alone anything with any kind of formatting.

What’s Holding Me Back from Scrivener:

I really wish there was a way to store Scrivener data in the cloud. I want to be able to sit down at any computer in the world, install a copy of Scrivener, and have my projects right there, ready to go, pulled from an online repository.

That’s why I use Evernote-- all of my poetry, chapters, short stories, voice memos and etc. are all available on my two Macs, my PC, my iPhone, and anywhere via a rudimentary Web app.

As this kind of tool may be outside your scope, you could use the Evernote API to develop a plugin that would accomplish this through Evernote.


Anyway, your work (and philosophy) is amazing. I’m a fan.

-Douglas K. Beagley
Technical Writer in Vermont

Just a thought…

If you can install scrivener on “any computer” then why couldn’t you use a thumb drive or drop box for moving a backup zip file to the same system?

One of the other questions I would ask is about data security/integrity. What level of security do you need and how will you verify it? Do you need to have SSL transfer of info to prevent spying eyes? What about encryption in the server side data store?

Just some thoughts.

A thumb drive is a physical object, so that’s a step backward from my goals.

DropBox had not occurred to me, however! I’ve been searching around this forum and it looks like people are successfully using DropBox to store their Scrivener files, though some folks argue it is safer to zip your Scrivener files ahead of time, to prevent the risk of a partial backup causing data loss?

I may give Scrivener+DropBox a try. It is another hoop to jump through, which is unfortunate, but it may be worth it until someone can come along and write the perfect program!

On your security/SSL question: Security is important, but not dramatically so. My condo door needs locks, but it doesn’t need four dead bolts and a thumb-print reader.


My perfect program: Evernote’s multi-media giant-brain note tools and cloud-computing syncing, coupled with Scriveners savvy writing tools, coupled with Mediawiki-style version control of all files (easy color-coded “diff” comparisons). All the background stuff (syncing, versions, etc.) should happen in the background without manual intervention; all I should have to think about is clicking and then writing. Oh, and I should be able to access all of these tools and all of my content from anywhere on any device.

Also, it should deliver me chocolate and give me a back rub when I’m tired. :wink:

Actually, DropBox does store zipped Scrivener backups. You just set Scrivener preferences to do backups automatically and to compress the backups, and then make sure the folder where backups are stored is in the DropBox folder. That means it gets backed up to DropBox automatically whenever it’s changed. So once the intial set up is done, it’s not really another hoop to jump through. It just happens in the background automatically.

I should add here that I’ve only recently started using DropBox and as yet haven’t had occasion – happily – to test whether it will actually restore corrupted or lost Scriv files, but what I’ve read in these forums and elsewhere gives me confidence that it will work properly when needed. in fact, it was reading about successful Scrivener users’ experiences here that enticed me to try DropBox in the first place.

The tricky thing is that my workflow would require CONSTANT recovery.

Write remotely on a laptop,
return home and sit down to write on my iMac,
take my laptop to work and want to hack away at lunchtime.

If this could work smoothly enough, though, I would happily buy two or three licenses for Scrivner. But it would have to be smooth.


It should be mentioned that automatic back-ups is not yet a “stable” Scrivener feature, and cannot be found in the 1.51 release. :slight_smile:

That aside, constant “recovery” is how I’ve been working for many years now. First it was floppies, then CD-RWs, then thumb drives, and now tools like DropBox. It’s just a different way of going about things, but I tend to prefer it as it means versions get saved, rather than the same working copy getting passed about. Versions means protection against both machine and human error.

Could you describe your workflow with Scrivener?

(message me if we’re thread hijacking, here)

I just want to understand how it works for you. Keeping live files in DropBox with multiple versions?

How do you set the the location of the backups folder? I don’t see that anywhere in the Preferences set.