Document Sync Between Users..

Recently, my writing partner and I sold the script to a TV pilot to a network in Norway. We both use Scrivener to keep track of our notes, treatment materials, research, etc. Due to our work schedules, we are rarely in the same city or country. We have been copying our respective files back and forth and then I’ve been manually syncing the files to create a master file.

With two people, the process has been painstaking but manageable. However, now we are in the process of hiring an additional four writers to fill out our writing room for the series. Any way to add some sort of user sync function to update master files over a network?

T’ain’t easy but Subversion is probably what you’re after. Do a search on the forums (particularly the recent beta forums) for it.


Definitely geeky, but dafu is right, this is what Subversion is good at. If you are not familiar, it was designed so that many people could simultaneously submit revisions to a master copy that is maintained by the Subversion server software. It is how large coding projects are coordinated with programmers scattered all over the globe. It would probably be overkill with two writers, but six would definitely benefit.

Step one is to get everyone on the latest version of the beta. This is critical. Step two is to turn on Subversion support in the general preferences. Step three would be to get the geekiest writer to set up the actual Subversion network and then write a little document so that the non-geeky writers can figure out how to use it. You might want to have a look at a program called “Versions,” which is in beta, and promises to be a dead simple Mac front end for Subversion.

A good post on set-up is here, and the topic regarding Versions is here.

As noted in that document, there are some things to watch for. The system will work best if people edit in turn, and stick to discrete portions of the project. Everyone working on a single section might result in conflicts.

If all of this is mind-blowingly too complicated, you might consider alternate methods of dispersal. Say, instead of having one large Scrivener project, have several of them all created from the same template, each representing different parts of the season. These can all then be collected by one writer in charge of integrating everything into a master project that everyone can view, but is generally understood to be read-only. Fortunately, moving data between Scrivener projects is fairly painless, as you’ve no doubt discovered in collaborating already. This won’t work if people need to be editing and composing in identical areas at once.