If I have file with subordinated files, and convert primary file in folder, I dont see the difference about capacity between folder and files
In short there isn’t much of one. Both can have as many child items as they need, and both can contain text like a file. Scrivener is more like an outliner, if you’ve ever used a traditional one before, than a file manager. Why have folders at all then? There are two potentially important differences between a file group and a folder:
- By default the click action on a folder always shows in group mode, even if the folder is empty. Inversely clicking on a file group always show the text editor for it, rather than its children in group view mode. This lets you prioritise what happens when you click. If a folder has important text and you always find yourself switching the corkboard off to read/edit it, maybe it would be better off as a file group?
- When compiling, file groups are a discrete entity in terms of how they can be formatted. A folder for example can function as a chapter header when compiling. A file group can as well, but maybe you don’t want file groups to be visible to the reader? This gives you a way to to organise things into groups that are only visible to you as the author. That is only one of many potential ways to use this divide between the two, when compiling.
Beyond that, they are identical to one another save for their icon. They have 100% the same features available to them in the software.
If you would like to read more about this topic, start in §8.1.2 (pg 58) and read through §8.1.3, “Folders are Files are Folders”.
Thanks for this, Amber, and thank you to rlilloy for asking the question. I’m new enough to Scrivener to still be figuring out folders and files, and this post plus the recommended reading in the manual is a big help.
I’ll have to admit that I’m still working on grasping all this, and after reading up on folders, files, and file groups/document stacks, I’m not entirely sure why folders even exist in Scrivener. Any help on that?
The flexibility built into Scrivener continues to astonish me. There is a saying attributed to Robert Kennedy (brother of President John F. Kennedy, a U.S. Attorney General and presidential candidate at the time of his assassination in 1968): “A pessimist looks at the world as it is and asks, ‘Why?’ An optimist looks at the world as it could be and asks, ‘Why not?’” Keith, our benefactor, must be a classic optimist in the world of software.
As with most things in Scrivener, if you don’t need it, you don’t have to bother with it. The reasons I’ve listed above are what the division is designed for. If you need two different default ways to view a collection of items (one ignoring that the thing you clicked on is a collection, the other focussing on that fact), or wish to have more formatting power when compiling, then folders are useful tools. Some also just prefer them for their aesthetic difference. I would count myself among them. I like to use folders for larger divisions and file groups for “soft” divisions, either minor sections or portions of the work where those forms of organisation will be invisible to the reader.
But like I say, you can just ignore all of that and use one or the other as you prefer. You can ignore that folders have a text editor just like files. It isn’t necessary to explore these differences and use them.
I tend to work with folders more at the root level or at levels within my supporting material rather than within the Draft. So I have folders for character files, folders for related research material, and subfolders within research for further refined grouping or archived material that I don’t want to get rid of completely (packrat!) but want to tuck away further as it deals with stuff I’ve cut from my current draft, etc. Within the manuscript I use file groups to break down my sequences and also for when I have alternate version/notes documents for a particular document. With all this, I’m mainly using folders for the aesthetic “folder” appearance and the view mode behaviour, since I like keeping my draft scene documents displaying in a regular text mode and not one of the group views; I often have notes or a reworked sequence outline in the top file group, and I like to see that on its own. So here, the compile differences are irrelevant.
Since it’s easy to convert folders to files and vice versa, you’ve got the flexibility to work however you want and decide to change it for structural reasons later without ever being locked into your original choices, so like Ioa said–run with what makes sense and is working for you, and if you find down the road that you need a little more control come compile time, it’s easy to just build it in at that point.
Thanks, Amber and MM. That helps me understand why one would choose folders or file stacks for particular purposes. Clearly I need to play around with them and see what fits my working habits best.
So, two great things about Scrivener: (1) amazing flexibility to suit the software to my work habits rather than vice versa; (2) lots of stuff to try out and play around with, something I love to do with software anyway–and thus an incentive to spend more time in my writing software and less time in random Net browsing!
Just be careful. I assure you that the art of organising your materials and customising your work environment can become a refined method of procrastination.
Ah yes, the familiar phenomenon of having one’s tools all categorized and arranged beautifully in the toolbox or on the workshop wall, and all shiny clean because who has time to use them?
Exactly, we’re too busy shining them and organising them.