comparison to other word processors and writing tools

Just want to say that I’ve been trying out Scrivener Gold for a couple days and so far, it looks like it has just about everything I’ve always wanted in a writing application – and, just as important, nothing I don’t want. I used MS Word for years, looked briefly at CopyWrite (too limiting) and Jer’s NovelWriter (promising but not there yet), then tried Mellel but found the learning curve too steep. So I’ve been doing all my work in TextEdit, OmniOutliner, and DevonNote. It’s a pretty workable system, but Scrivener may allow me to replace all of the above for writing short-form journalism.

I may also give it a try for my book in progress, but there, Devon may have an advantage, with its ability to show relationships among various info tidbits. I have more than 1000 virtual note cards for my book, and the number grows every week, so I’ll have to see how well Scrivener allows me to manage them.

The other big issues with the book are citations/footnotes, and comments, as I have a coauthor with whom I exchange drafts each week. He wants us to use Word, which admittedly does a pretty good job there, but it’s hardly worth putting up with the other MS foibles.

What I did love about Mellel (and NovelWriter) was the integrated outliner, and it looks like Scrivener has taken that idea and even improved it. I also really like the live word count and, well, everything else about it so far. However, the combo of TextEdit’s simplicity, OmniOutliner’s organizational ability, and Devon’s research management may be hard to beat in a single app.

So, I’ll give Scrivener a try in my next story and post suggestions and questions as they arise. I’d be interested to hear how others compare Scrivener to similar apps. Thanks again so much for devising such a clever app.

I do my writing in Mellel; I store journal articles, PDF’s etc. in Devon Think Pro, and my personal things in MacJournal (could store them in Devon Think Pro too, of course, but I like to keep erudition and autobiography separated).

Both Mellel and Devon Think have their limits and downsides. Mellel is very stable and its integrated outliner is invaluable: it’s the chief reason why I use it. But its style management is essentially different from that of other wordprocessors. It is loved by some, and hated by others. Moreover, the present version of Mellel doesn’t have cross-referencing yet, nor indexing, nor a split window view, nor the possibility to make annotations inside the text (like Srivener), nor a track changes feature, nor the possibility to wrap text around images. But it has things which other wordprocessors don’t have: for instance: the possibility to create as many series of footnotes (or endnotes) as you like. And it has a good integration with the bibliography application Bookends. And it is very suited for those who write in non-European languages.

Devon Think is a very clumsy writing tool. I would never use it for writing.

For storing your notes, you might want to take a look at Yojimbo, Mori and Journler too. I prefer all of these above Devon Note. Especially Journler I find very attractive - and it’s free and, in the words of its maker “will always be free”.

About outliners in general, see the ongoing and very interesting discussion ‘in depth’ on

Finally, you might want to take a look at Papyrus too ( ). I like this application. It’s a pretty complete wordprocessor (certainly more complete than Mellel at the moment) it has a database feature, it is rather easy to use, it has a very dedicated management, etcetera. And it did exist already fifteen years ago, in other words: it has a certain tradition.

And of course I’m very eager to know in which direction Scrivener will go.

Thanks for the tip on Journler; will check it out, although I’m satisfied with DevonNote for storing and organizing web clips, pdfs, text, etc.

What would the developer need to add to Scrivener so that it could also replace Journler or Devon as well as serving as a writing tool?

Well, as I wrote in another thread, for me the most important thing for an application (after stability, which always comes first!) is to have a clear identity. If I were Scrivener’s developer, I would never try to take the place of Journler or of Devon or whatever. I would try to make an application which in some respects is unique, and therefore invaluable for a certain kind of users. And I would not try to offer everything to everyone. Less is more. The point is not to find a large amount of users; the point is to find a dedicated group of users.

One thing I have found in trying to find a better application is that there is a big difference between writing a novel and writing more journalisticly. Jer’s Novel Writer is good for writing a book, Ulysses is good for cataloguing a bunch of short essays.

Scriver offers the best of both worlds, imo. So I would not “limit” the application thinking less is more, but rather try to find the right balance.

Some Note storage applications are very powerful, DevonThink Pro, Circus Ponies NoteTaker, etc., but they are terrible at writing (imo).

It is more important to have “enough.” There is a lot of crappy software around because they don’t have “enough.” And other crappy sofware because they have too much. So it really is about finding a balance based on the type of user, because it isn’t the software that is crappy but the expectation of the users. Since short essay writers and novel writers are both “writers,” the perfect balance, imo, would be to please them both. They are often the same person just working on different projects.

One feature that I would like is the ability to create index cards, and store random thoughts/quotes/information on them and be able to print them individually.

I just used Scrivener to write several articles and and a huge research paper. I think it’s a tool worth having. I use DevonThink for my research and Ulysses for my last book and my next book and Scrivener is up to the match.

I will certainly will use it as one of my main writting tools. I like all the screens for notes and research.

The only thing I don’t like is the interface. To many Mac apps are looking to much the same. But that’s just me.

Good work.

For the record actually I love the interface. No offense jrzap. I guess I’m just a Mac Addict.