External documents in templates?

I am creating a template for my short stories. I have also created a spreadsheet that I use that helps me plot out the story and track progress against word count. I have a standard Scrivener document in the Research folder called “Story Notes”. I always make an external document reference from that Scrivener file to the spreadsheet. So my “new project work flow” has been:

  • Create a new project
  • Copy a previous version of the spreadsheet into the directory that contains the Scrivener directory
  • Create a Document Reference in my “Story Notes” Scrivener file to the external spreadsheet I just copied

What I would like to be able to do is make my new template and then place a bare-bones version of my spreadsheet into the template directory. Then all I would have to do is create the external reference when I create a new project based on that template. The bare-bones copy of my spreadsheet would simply “come along for the ride”, so to speak, when the new project is created.

Are all files in a template directory copied when a template is used to create a new Scrivener project (including some I might have put there myself)?

Will Scrivener be upset to see files it didn’t create residing in the template project?

Is there a better way to accomplish what I am trying to do?

Okay, if I understand correctly what you’re wanting to do, it won’t work quite like that, but I think you can get what you want via another means. If you try to place the external file inside the original .scriv file and create a link to that file within the project, when you save as a template, a new project folder created from the template won’t contain that extra file. The project will contain the link, but that link will point to the file contained in the original project. So if that were all you needed, you’d be better off just creating a static folder on your drive and then having a link to that. That works well for research file that you want to reference, but since in this case it’s a template that you want to fill out fresh for each project, it’s not going to help you.

What you can do though is import the file into the project. I’m assuming it’s an unsupported file type, so when you import it into the Research folder, what you’ll get is a link in the editor to open the file in an external program. However, in this case the file will be reproduced as part of the template, so every new project you create will have a fresh copy of the file inside the project folder, and the link in the editor will be to open that new copy in the external program. In the end I think it’s exactly what you were trying to do initially, with the difference that the template file will appear in the binder rather than being just in the document references. This might even be a nice plus, since you can give it its own title there and assign document notes, a synopsis, a label, etc. (And of course you can do that in the original file and save it as part of the template.) Sound right?

Excellent! I thought there might be another way, but I couldn’t find it in the manual. I was looking at Scrivener links; not the right place to find what I needed. Thanks very much for the help.

Having (mostly) set up my template, I’d like to ask for a tweak to the “accessing imported documents” UI, if I may.

When I imported my spreadsheet into the Research folder of the Binder, the item description contained only the name. Clicking on that name displayed a link in the text area of the editor which, when clicked, opened the imported file in its appropriate program. Great! Functionality is just fine. However, I think it would be more consistent (and save a click accessing imported files and make the Binder display more regular) if the item imported into the Binder displayed like Document References. They include an icon and a name. Clicking on the icon opens the document in its program. The name could be edited in the manner of all binder items. The text displayed in the Editor can follow the name of the item in the Binder, if that’s important.

This would make the overall UI a little more consistent.

But, I’m just happy I can make a template that contains an external file. Fantastic! :smiley:

The interface will be cleaned up a little, including unsupported file types getting an icon in the binder. The rest of the functionality isn’t going to change, at least not for now. I disagree that it’s inconsistent–not that I don’t see your point, but strictly speaking the consistent handling is that clicking an item in the binder loads it in the editor. I understand of course in the case of unsupported file types, loading it in the editor doesn’t have quite the same effect as loading a text document or an image, but the behavior is the same. Even some file types that are able to load in the editor, such as images and PDFs, also have the option of being opened externally via another click and need to be opened externally in order to edit them. This behavior also saves some frustration (on slower computers, at least) since you can’t accidentally click the unsupported document in the binder instead of the one above it that you meant to hit and then have to wait around while your computer s-lo-w-l-y loads an external program (which, depending on the file type, could be a real clunker) only to close it once it’s finally up on the screen.

What would be great to add in the future, if Lee’s able to wrangle this, is an option for viewing more types in the editor, even if they’re unsupported, similar to the way you can see PDFs and such now. You’d need to load in an external editor if you wanted to edit them, but you’d be able to have them up for reference right in the Scrivener window. I’m not sure how feasible this is with the tools he’s got, but I think it’s one of the long-term goals (2.0 sort of long-term). If that turns out not to be doable or he comes up with a better way, perhaps even along the lines you suggest if it can be made obvious that the function on those binder files will be different from others, then of coures he may implement something different. All that’s a ways off, though.

Ah, I see. Since I don’t work with PDF files and the like, I wasn’t aware that the behavior I was seeing was consistent, just in a different way than I would have preferred. Ctrl+F5 already does in one composite keystroke the kind of thing I was proposing. I’m not at all surprised. This program is a fantastic piece of work. And a broadly useful and effective writer’s tool.

(Jim assumes a posture of obeisance at the feet of the L&L masters.)

So given the way external editors actually work, I’d then suggest one more thing, but just a suggestion. And this is pure speculation since the display of such file types is limited at the moment.

If an uneditable (in Scrivener) file type could be displayed in a Scrivener edit pane, perhaps the user would prefer to always open the file in the external program instead. In my case, I have a spreadsheet that I edit as my writing day progresses. It would serve no useful purpose for me to ever display it in a Scrivener editor even if that could be done. Of course, other users might prefer just the opposite for some different set of reasons, so the choice of opening only externally might want to be a check item like “Page Break Before”, settable per file instance.

But honestly, I’m fine with the way it works as is. Happy, happy. Joy, joy. :slight_smile:

Wow, I’m glad I read this - I had no idea this functionality was in there - and boy do I have uses for it.

Only one thing I’d ask for, and that’s to give external files their external icon, or at least a default icon to show they’re an external file. The current lack-of-icon makes them indent funny and look like they’re part of a higher outline level.

They’ll be getting icons, yes. Should be in next beta, I believe.