Breaking News: Synching Scrivener via iCloud

This as-it -happens dialog by MacWorld editors from Apple’s WWDC seems to be saying that soon Scrivener could be auto-synching files between Macs or Macs and PCs using Lion, iCloud and Apple’s new NC servers.

11:36 Jason Snell: Big question is, will third-party developers have access to this sync system?

11:36 Dan Moren: App organizes its own documents, just like Mail organizes its own messages. How do we move things around? Documents in the Cloud.

11:36 Jason Snell: Sounds like yes!

11:36 Dan Moren: Apps can store documents in iCloud. iCloud pushes documents to users automatically, documents update on all devices when changed on any device.

11:36 Dan Moren: And, they’re releasing iCloud Storage APIs.

11:37 Jason Snell: The “Cloud Storage APIs” slide features a picture of a blueprint of a cloud. They… build those? (Still, big news for app developers.)

11:37 Dan Moren: Complex documents, or another storage facility for key/value data, like a stock tracker.

11:37 Dan Moren: Works across iOS devices and Macs & PCs too.

For many of us, this news may eventually mean an end to synching through DropBox, carefully and with our fingers crossed. And I imagine that synching will include off-site backup and versioning.

Feel free to fill in this story with more details and your opinion of its value.

It’s far too early to tell if it will work, or work reliably. Only months of testing can reveal if it’s any better than dropbox, but I have my doubts that it will make Scrivener project syncing any less problematic. I suppose if Scrivener can hook directly into the syncing services, it might improve matters, but it won’t be an improvement if they’re just piggy-backing on the current implementation of iDisk.

Take into account just how ticked off Steve Jobs was at the problems of iDisk and MobileMe. If this isn’t the bee’s knees, heads will tumble at Apple headquarters. And Apple does have advantages that DropBox developers don’t have. It writes the APIs.

There’s more about iCloud at: … _free.html … ray-skies/

All in all, good news. July, when Lion comes out, isn’t that far off and $30 is far cheaper than Windows upgrades. It’s also looking like iOS 5 will run on my 3GS. That’s good. I just installed a new battery in it.

Oh, and here’s a link to Apple’s own page describing the new feature: … ackup.html

Hopefully, the iBooks synching means that iBooks for Macs will soon be out and the iWorks synching means that new versions of its apps will soon appear.

I can’t help feeling that calling it “breaking news” is a little premature. Keith is probably now going to be deluged with with messages asking about synching Scrivener via iCloud when the function doesn’t yet exist. Give the man a chance to evaluate the possibilities first! I notice that in the exchange above they are talking about synching “documents”, but as we all know, Scrivener projects are packages, not documents (unless they’ve changed while I was away). I wonder if that will make a difference in this case as well.

Best wishes, Martin.

I think the fact that Scrivener files are packages will always make a difference - pushing single-file documents to other computers is relatively straightforward, because there is only one file to sync; updating a whole project full of files is a different matter, and will always be fraught with danger. Although “It just works” was the favoured phrase of the keynote, syncing only works if all the machines are on, connected to the internet and so on. I can’t see how iCloud will solve any syncing problems - it just makes syncing more convenient as far as I can see from the keynote. But the developer site is up and down at the moment because of high demand, so I haven’t had chance to look into it properly yet - I could be wrong.

All the best,

For those who have an interest in this topic, copious bucket-loads of cold water are also being poured on this idea in this thread:


“Keep on using Dropbox (if it suits you) and don’t uncross your fingers” would seem to be the consensus (for the moment – it might change, of course).

Cheers, Martin.

I seemed have touched a sensitive nerve. Just keep in mind that I’ve never used any of Apple’s failed web storage services, so I’ve not gotten burned by them.

For those who need to store sensitive data online, LifeHacker has a detailed article on how to add your own level of encryption to Dropbox. … to-dropbox

It’s not entirely about being burned by Apple’s previous online offerings. It’s also about discouraging the “Oh that’s new! SHINY! I want Scrivener to work with it right away!” reaction that new apple offerings seem to bring out in the discussion boards. Keith had to be very tolerant when the iPad was announced (not shipped, mind you, just announced) as people began pleading/demanding that Scrivener be ported to this new platform. As it turned out, the iPad’s operating system is more like a distant cousin to Mac OS X, rather than a sibling, so it’s not feasible for a one-man programming team.

As for iCloud… it’s just been announced, and there’s a huge difference between something seeming like it’s a good replacement for DropBox, and it actually being better. Apple can dig as deep into it’s own code base and make applications and services work almost flawlessly, but it remains to be seen if they’ll be as open with the technical details to developers of 3rd party software.

I’ve never used Apple’s services, either – that wasn’t the reason for my scepticism. Having read so many of the previous discussions on these forums, I suspected that the thing that would stand in the way of successful synching of this kind was the complexity of the Scrivener package. Keith has confirmed this above, and it has also been pointed out in the other thread as one of the main difficulties. It probably doesn’t matter how good Apple makes its service: the Scrivener project package simply doesn’t lend itself to it. In Keith’s words:

“I think the fact that Scrivener files are packages will always make a difference - pushing single-file documents to other computers is relatively straightforward, because there is only one file to sync; updating a whole project full of files is a different matter, and will always be fraught with danger.”

Note “always”. You can’t get much clearer than that, from the man who develops the program. I was concerned that other people who had not read all the previous discussions might read this thread and think “Oh Wow! the problem has been solved! And it’ll be out in a few weeks.” That was also why I thought the choice of title for the thread was perhaps unfortunate: it sounded like an announcement of something that was as good as implemented and ready to be used. Hence my feeling that it might be better to apply the brakes and ask for more information. Robert is right: the whole iPad thing was completely over the top – and I think I only read the first couple of pages before I got tired of it. But more than anything, I think people needed to be made aware of the potential problems and difficulties so that they don’t fall into any traps.

But thanks for the link about Dropbox security – not a major worry of mine, but such information is always useful.

Best wishes, Martin.