Complete loss of text within documents in a project

I don’t know if this belongs here, or in the iOS forum, as I’m not sure exactly where the problem occurs.

I use Scrivener 3 (3.0.3) on a Mac (Mac OS 10.13.5) and Scrivener 1.1.5 on an iPad (iOS 11.4). There is a particular project that I have worked on quite extensively, over the last year or so, sometimes on the Mac, and sometimes on the iPad. The project is stored in my DropBox, so that it is accessible to both platforms, and I simply sync it on the iPad whenever I have made changes there, or whenever it tells me there are changes to sync from the DropBox.

I have just noticed that there are a lot of the documents within my manuscript - scenes for my novel - which are completely empty. They were not empty before, as they are scenes for which I had written the first draft. They represent between 1/3 and 1/2 of the novel. There are also some other documents within the project, containing things like notes, which are also empty.

I do not know whether the text disappeared when Scrivener 3 updated the project to the new format, or whether it has happened during the synchronisation between the iPad and the Mac. All I know is that, in documents where I had written some of the key scenes of the novel, I now have no text.

Is it possible that the text is still present within the files that are under the scriv directory, but somehow not being shown by the software? If so, how can I get it back. I really don’t want to have to re-write these scenes, as I already had them written.

If you cannot help me get this text back, I am going to have to cease using this software and revert to plain old Word documents. It is unacceptable to have huge chunks of my work simply “lost” by bad software.

When you move between Mac and iOS you need to make sure that the Dropbox app on your Mac has uploaded any changes before you close your Mac. Not waiting for that is probably the most common cause for lost text. when this happens the binder file might be updated but not the actual text files. If you then open and sync on your iPad it downloads the binder structure but without content in some documents. You edit and then sync, wherafter the Mac updates what it has on its HD with the erroneous project from the iPad.

To avoid thiis, always close your project on your Mac and always check that the DB folder holding your Scriv project has the green tick mark.

What to do now? You have a backup system running, like TimeMachine? There you should find the old Mac version with the missing documents.

I always allow things to sync to DropBox in both directions, so that isn’t the cause of my problem. As for looking through Time Machine backups, how can I do that when I don’t even know at what point the items disappeared? It isn’t as if I go through the entire manuscript, every time I open the project, just to check that text hasn’t disappeared. I expect commercially sold software to work, without randomly losing stuff.

To me, there are 2 possible candidates for the problem:

  1. The upgrade to Scrivener 3. I have 3.0.3 now, but I think there has been at least 1 update since I upgraded. Maybe the version I started with screwed something up, when it upgraded the project to the new format.

  2. Possible problems with the iPad software’s synchronisation. It seems significant to me that that version of Scrivener works with both the old and new Scrivener project format. That suggests that it might not be correctly handling the new format, and is somehow only dealing with the features that are common to both formats.

  1. No.
  2. No.

When you upgraded from Scrivener 2, Scrivener 3 would have made a backup with a name like My Project backup.scriv, in the same folder as the original project. That’s the file to look for if you would like to revert to the older version. You can also find Scrivener’s automatic backups by going to Scrivener -> Preferences -> Backups, and opening the backup folder in Finder.

As Lunk said, the symptoms you describe specifically indicate a mismatch between the master index file and the actual contents of the project. Incomplete synchronization is the most common cause of this problem, but it can also happen if files are added or deleted from the project using any tool other than Scrivener itself.

The new Scrivener 3 format includes a number of improvements to make these errors less common, not more. The format conversion did not damage the project, but it wouldn’t have fixed any pre-existing issues, either. As I said, a backup of the pre-conversion project should be available so that you can check for yourself.

iOS Scrivener does not change the main body of the project, it puts its changes in a special ‘Mobile’ folder. The contents of this folder have always used the Scrivener 3 format.