Does Scrivener provide a way to access its files in an "open" way?

Hi :slight_smile:. I’m new around here and am considering buying Scrivener.

Aside from being a writer, I’m also a software developer. I might want to add a graphical timeline functionality to Scrivener via an external application. In order to do that, I’d need to access the timeline in Scrivener. Is all this information stored by Scrivener in a format that is easy to parse?

Much appreciated! :slight_smile:

The quick answer is no.

If you’re not familiar with it, you might want to check out Aeon Timeline, which integrates with Scrivener.

Timeline functionality within Scrivener is implemented and is in testing phase. It is scheduled for release with the next major update. May be you can save yourself the effort of implementing it in an external application. :slight_smile:

I wasn’t aware about Aeon, thank you :slight_smile:. It’s a bit pricey though :slight_smile:. Do you have any idea how exactly it integrates with Scrivener? As in: how does it get data from Scrivener? Or maybe Scrivener supports sending data to some external application?

Oh, really? So just to make sure: we’re talking about graphical timeline view here, right? BTW: if I buy this version, will I also get updates for it included in the same price?

Thanks for answering :slight_smile:

I am not part of L&L. My understanding of Scrivener pricing policy is that minor updates are free and major updates are not.

Here are the details from L&L:


So if you buy the current version now, you will pay some additional fee when the major update is released.

Hope that helps,

$50 seemed pretty reasonable to me, but YMMV. I don’t know the ins and outs of how it works, but one is able to bring data from Scrivener’s binder into Timeline and create events fro them in the timeline, and send info back in the other direction, with the ability to sync everything up. They offer a 20 day free fully functioning trial. Perhaps you should check it out.

To be clear, I’m not with L&L.

For a brief naive overview of a Scrivener project structure at the operating system file system level, see my note regarding such within this post viewtopic.php?f=30&t=36472#p224931. Scrivener can also export and compile projects out in a variety of formats. Whether an API or such will be offered in some future version of Scrivener remains to be seen.

Existing apps that appear to be capable of interacting with Scrivener projects at the file system level:

  • timeline - Aeon Timeline -
  • grammar - ProWritingAid Desktop -
    No reflection on the above projects, but I would assure having current safety backup copies of a Scrivener project in hand before letting any app touch it. One should, of course, have such current off-machine and off-site safety backup copies of any work one does, regardless of the work one is doing, the app being used, related apps, etc.

Like Scrivener, they all offer free try-before-you-buy evaluation downloads. One should try, and give a thorough workout to, any such app before commiting to and puechasing. Different apps have different strengths and weaknesses, approaches, and resonate or not with different people.

$50, versus the hours required to program an alternative? A bargain.

P.S. Depending on what you mean by “timeline”, you might also look into use of Scrivener’s custom meta-data feature, which one can use for a form of multi-column outlining, that I posted about here viewtopic.php?f=18&t=32005&p=201403&hilit=multicolumn+outline#p201403

You’re right :slight_smile:. I do enjoy coding, that’s how I make a living, and am pretty fast when I get into it. But yeah, your point is well made. Thank you for that.

Your post actually answered more than I expected. Given what I read from you, I consider that the Scrivener file format IS actually OPEN. Even though the files might be a bit hard to decipher, there is apparently an XML file that provides relational mapping. For me, as a software developer, this reads as: “you can do whatever you want with the data once you save & close Scrivener”. That’s exactly what I expect from 21st century software and it means I can invest in it, knowing that I can handle my data any which way I want.

But do be aware that you edit the .scrivx file, or any other of the management files in a Scrivener project, entirely at your own risk. I’m not a member of the Lit&Lat team, but that has been said on many occasions to users wanting to do the kind of thing you seem to be proposing.



The .scrivx file is user-readable (-ish) by design, as we don’t want user data to be “trapped” in Scrivener if they ultimately decide to use other tools. One of the Appendices to the user manual outlines the project format. The Sync with External Folder feature is the “approved” mechanism for transfer between Scrivener and third-party programs.

However, as Mark said, directly editing a Scrivener project using any tool other than Scrivener itself is unsupported and entirely at your own risk.