External Folder Syncing - with I lose my RTF formatting?

I am trying to sync a project via dropbox to my iPhone. I have used this feature in the past but have used WriteRoom which I think is plain text only.

I lost the formatting after a while in the documents in my Scrivener Binder after syncing back and forth - is this because I was syncing between Scriv and a plain text editor on my iPhone? Is there any way to avoid this loss of formatting (layout, bold, italic, etc.)? Perhaps the loss of formatting isn’t even due to syncing, I can’t figure it.

All I want to do is sync to iPhone and maintain formatting. If this isn’t possible with iPhone, so be it, I’ll still sync via external folder. But if it is possible I’d appreciate your advice forum people.

Editing the RTF files outside of Scrivener is not supported, I’m afraid. It can lead to several problems. You may find this post useful:

I’m not sure if there is even an RTF editor for the iPhone yet that is also capable of working off of normal files via some synchronisation interface like Dropbox. They should start appearing fairly soon now though since Apple has finally added a decent text editing toolkit to the phone OS. At any rate, if you set your folder sync settings to RTF you can generate formatted files, and if the software editing those files is capable of doing a decent job of parsing RTF (won’t discard footnotes/comments, etc.) then you should be able to do a full round-trip sync without any loss.

Ok, thanks. Not sure what I’ve been doing wrong so far re formatting then since I assume WriteRoom is a good app to use re: parsing and Scriv files.

Can anyone recommend an iPhone app that they’ve found works well to sync to external folder/Dropbox and Scrivener?

Is WriteRoom good? IA Writer? PlainText (also by Hog Bay)?

In my experience all of the ones you listed are good, and there are a few other plain-text iOS editors that work with Dropbox that are good with Scrivener too. But whenever you work in plain-text, you’re going to lose formatting because a file that is composed of nothing more than the bytes necessary to print letters, numbers and punctuation cannot embed formatting information in it (well, unless you can literally see it, like that, or like this, which is why many writers have adopted one variant of Markdown or another in recent years: so that they can format on simpler operating systems like iOS).

Scrivener will do its best to avoid format loss. Only the paragraphs that have been altered within the files will be replaced in the project, so if the paragraph above a point you edited had some special formatting it should remain intact—but yes if you edit that paragraph all Scrivener has to translate back into the project is, like I say, a string of letters and numbers and punctuation marks. It is impossible to reconstruct any formatting from it. So naturally if you tend to edit bits and pieces all over the place, and have a lot of non-body text formatting in your writings, you’ll see more loss than the average person will, using folder sync. I suspect most novelists don’t even realise that formatting is being lost to begin with. :slight_smile:

That’s the answer - I tinker around a lot on mobile, and do embolden things etc. for my own purposes and thus notice formatting loss. Glad to have this figured out. Its not a big deal anyways, but if there was a work around I was game.

I assume iOS Scriv will try to mitigate this by enabling rtf, so it won’t be a problem for long anyways :slight_smile:

That is correct. Scrivener for iOS will be a full RTF editor and beyond that, will support the special Scrivener-exclusive formatting such as internal cross-reference links.

The only reliable RTF workflow for iOS I know of right now requires an iPad and Textilus, unfortunately. You might try searching the app store for RTF iPhone editors though, that is bound to change now that it is fairly easy to make one.

There is an app called Smart RTF on the App Store that claims to edit and save .rtf files and sync with Dropbox. It runs on both iPad and iPhone. I believe is the only one that claims to deal with .rtf files on the iPhone. It came out in September and it does have only one fairly negative review (reviewer says it crashes all the time and it’s basically not usable). I haven’t used it, so I can’t say anything about it

I understand that formatting is lost for the relevant paragraph when editing plain text files in simple note or dropbox. I’d like to know however, is if the changes in these files are written with markdown formatting, will Scrivener automatically convert this formatting to rtf when syncing (and if so, is there any mmd formatting that is not kept)? Or are we forced into a mmd-only or rtf-only workflow when using scrivener with dropbox-plain text / simple note?


PS. Any plans for better integration with reference managers such as Sente (to avoid having to compile just so the reference manager can format the bibliography?).

Scrivener won’t convert markdown into RTF without compiling. However, you can use Marked or Marked2 for a live preview of your markdown in Scrivener. I do use Sente with Scrivener but I am not sure I understand your question.

Thanks marco,
In that case, I think a markdown to scrivener’s rtf conversion would be a good feature request.
As for Sente, I don’t want to hijack this thread into a Sente discussion, so I will keep it to external folder sync as much as possible.
At the moment, Sente (or any other reference manager) needs Scrivener to compile into rtf or word before being able to produce a bibliography. This has several drawbacks:
i. Not knowing what the final word count is until you compile and format the bibliography (some journals include the bibliography in their maximum word requirements, and some bibliographies can take as much as 1/4 of the full word count).
ii. Not being able to take advantage of Scrivener’s Pandoc-like compile menu (i.e. write once, compile to multiple formats as per your needs).

A possible solution for this, would be to have an option in the Sync-External folder menu for Scrivener to sync into 1 single rtf file. As long as the required meta-data that scriveners adds to this file (to divide the text into the specific categories) is different than that used by Reference Managers (typically written as: {any character combination}), than the reference manager could simply format that rtf file, leaving the scrivener specific metadata intact, and one could simply run a sync next time Scrivener is launched. As it stands, you can’t have this workflow because reference managers cannot compile a single bibliography from several rtf files.
Apart from solving the two problems above, it would give writers a third, substantial in my view, advantage:
iii. You could simply write, using your chosen reference manager for all references, and then, according to your needs at the time, compile directly from scrivener to:
i. Word, because thats what the journal or colleague requires.
ii. Pdf, to send to a bunch of people or for archiving.
iiii. html for posting on the web.
iv. MMD-LaTex, to take advantage of LaTex’s formatting, etc in long documents, whilst letting your preferred reference manager (sente in this case) take care of the bibliography. As it stands, you can only take advantage of this route, if you use bibtex and its format of citing (which is all very nice, if you know you only want to output to LaTex, but no longer useful if you’d like to have your text ready to compile into different files depending on your needs). To take this route, at the moment, one would have to have a version of the text with sente cite keys, and another with bibtex cite keys. This would not be necessary, if the bibliography could be easily compiled by the reference manager within Scrivener itself. And I can only see this happening, through external folder syncing to a single rtf file.

Sorry for the long post. Hope this makes some sense?

At the time of this writing there isn’t a solid MMD->RTF converter available for us to use. The option we have available in the compile menu is for proofing, not round-trip synchronisation or production output. It actually just compiles to HTML and then converts the web file to RTF using a UNIX utility that is available on the Mac. Any cursory use of it would show that it is not suitable for anything other than quick printouts.

I hear that Fletcher (designer of MMD) is working on a better RTF converter. There is a beta version of it in the current version of MMD, so in the future this may be something we can take advantage of.

I realise mmd-rtf is shaky. I wonder if you share Fletcher’s view that rtf is a “horrible … really bad format”?
Would it be better (in the long term plans of scrivener) to keep rtf as purely an output format and let scrivener implement its own format internally?

@Joao: Got it! Makes total sense and I totally endorse it. You should put a feature request!

EDIT: I hadn’t seen AmberV answer when I sent this. OK, taking note…