Feedback wanted: Integration with Aeon Timeline

I know a number of Scrivener users use Aeon Timeline to keep track of their timelines, as Aeon supports syncing with Scrivener. As both Matt at Aeon and I look to future versions of our software, we’re curious about what other syncing or integration features users would like between Scrivener and Aeon. Please use this thread as a place to post any feedback or ideas you have.


I’m one of those users! :laughing: IMHO, Aeon has some metadata that it would be useful to use in Scrivener on a more structured way. For instance:

  • Dates: could be used as a sort column in Scrivener’s outline. As dates are stored now (plain strings), they cannot be used as such.
  • Aeon tags and Scrivener keywords could be synced to each other, thus avoiding you to duplicate info and help maintain data integrity among both apps.

I’ve also noticed that splitting or duplicating a document in Scrivener creates two documents with the same Aeon ID, which may introduce a conflict later at sync time. I don’t know if this can be fixed easily, but it seemed to be worth to mention.

Just my 2 cents.

If I’m honest I’ve a) not tried to integrate Aeon Timeline documents into Scrivener and b) that’s because I don’t like the description of what happens. It all seems overly complex and convulsed with too many things that have to be “just so”. I was put off even trying it. In other words have an integration that is more transparent and simple.

Without wanting to pre-empt the suggestions (and I value all feedback on this issue), I thought I would add a little to the background and motivation behind the current syncing capability and what I am looking to change in Aeon for the current version.

When I did the integration for version 1, I was aiming at a minimum impact process that left as much of the Scrivener data untouched as possible. For that reason, Aeon only interacted with its own custom metadata fields rather than any existing Scrivener fields (Document notes, synopsis, keywords etc).

Now that I am working on Version 2 as a larger release, everything is on the table. This would range from deeper integration into Scrivener (such as being able to edit the Scrivener notes inside Aeon Timeline) to improvements in Usability and User Interface, which is likely to be re-designed and re-written from scratch anyway.

As one example of UI changes, there may be more interactive ways to perform the linking than the current table-based approach (eg. drag and drop events directly into a representation of the Scrivener binder so they go where you want without the intermediate holding folder).

Some suggestions I have had previously, such as being able to always limit syncing to just the Manuscript/Draft folder will also be looked at.

Thanks for the comments.

  1. I would need to check in the software later, but there may already be an option to use the yyyy-mm-dd format which allows for string-based sorting to be in date order. However, I anticipate being able to address this properly in future.

  2. Yes, this makes sense and should be achievable.

  3. I will give some thought to the duplicated Aeon ID issue and see if I can work out a good path to fix that problem.

Hi, thanks for the feedback. I agree with you that simplicity needs to be a design goal here. The Scrivener syncing is quite a difficult feature to get right, and at the moment a bit too much of the complexity is passed onto the user to handle rather than being solved via clever design on my part.

I have made significant UI improvements in other areas for Version 2 of Aeon Timeline, and I hope to achieve the same here so that the process itself becomes easier to work with and get right.

If you have specific ideas or suggestions - or even specific points about what in particular put you off - I would like to hear them.



I use both, but I don’t actually ever synchronize - because of the way my scrivener projects are organized it’s not practical. I may have up to 6000 documents in a scriv project and #'s 1 - 300 need to sync to Timeline A, 301-556 to Timeline B, etc.

Anyway, I don’t know whether this is doable, but perhaps the ability to sync a single scriv project to multiple TImelines. Perhaps a bit of metadata that says this range of documents sync to this timeline, and that range to another one.

Linking Tags <-> Keywords is a good idea. If possible maybe take that a step further and allow people to pick from Scriv’s Keywords, Labels, or Status to link to Aeon’s Tags. Or a custom meta-data field of choice.

Similarly Aeon’s Notes field could optionally be linked with Scriv’s Synopsis or Document Notes. Or maybe even the full document text in Scriv (probably have to be a maximum size limit on that).

And Aeon’s Links with Scriv’s Document References. <- that one might be tricky since Aeon uses both absolute and relative links whereas Scriv is absolute only (IIRC).

All of those just to increase the flexibility of which data is synchronized and reduce duplication of potentially having to enter it in both spots.

Meanwhile, I’ve found that exporting scriv’s outliner to CSV -> bit of column renaming in Excel -> import to Aeon to work great for my purposes, and I already need to export the outliner for a couple other things I’m doing with that data so it’s not like that’s an extra step or anything for me.

I’m not sure if there’s anything to be done to improve that process - other than perhaps make it work the other way. So if you have your timeline set up in Aeon, you could export a CSV from there, and then if Scriv had some sort of Import and Split for CSVs where it could split the rows into separate docs with the various columns automatically going into the appropriate meta-data fields… There’s been a few times where I wished I could do that in Scriv.

It sounds great to be able to edit data consistently among the apps!

Now that you mention it, when changing an event name in AT I have to make a note to update it manually on Scrivener, and vice versa. My ideal scenario would be that editing the event title and the event notes in AT would result into the document title and synopsis updated in Scrivener, respectively (and vice versa).

You mean as a user defined option or some internal setting out of the box?

[size=85](Sometimes I use the research folder to gather data about global events that are not part of the story, but which provide a context to it and allow me to position the events consistently. For instance, I have a complete set of the whole presidencies for my country which I use on several projects and timelines. I guess I can move those away from Research, but having them on the Draft folder just for the purpose of syncing would seem overkill.)[/size]

Yes, I’ve attemped to fix the issue by setting the formats like yyyy-mm-dd, yyyy-mm and yyyy in AT, but when syncing I still get “Apr 1977” as a date in Scrivener for month-only events.

Here’s a post that I read recently; I don’t know if you guys have already seen this. … -timeline/

are there an easy tutorial about integration timeline and scrivener? in windows

Unfortunately, the video tutorial is somewhat outdated now, but most of what it shows is still accurate - aside from the location of the Scrivener templates, which can be found in the Scrivener section of our support page.

It is recorded on the Mac, but most of the content is valid for Windows also.

I will record an entirely new set of videos when version 2 is released, including ones for Scrivener syncing.


I haven’t really used aeon enough to be the judge of it, but I am all for more transparent syncing. One other note is I would love for syncing to be in both directions. I write mostly character-driven stories, which means all events are based upon some subset of my characters. I would like to be able to link that list from aeon to scrivener. I really like the way aeon handles characters in the timeline, it is one of my favorite features. I would like to get that somehow from aeon into scrivener as an automatic character list for the specific scene.

Not sure if what I am asking is already there or if I explained it well.

Hi, Peskat, and welcome to the forum!

Well, if I follow you correctly, it’s sort of on it already. When you associate events to entities in AT then the Aeon Relationships meta data field gets updated, one entity per line. You can also edit this field in Scrivener and, provided the entity already exists in AT, it gets associated to that event. So syncing works both ways. Is this what you’re after? Or do you mean something else?

The entity concept in AT is, however, broader than a character. It may include anything like a place, object or person, and there’s no way to distinguish them within Scrivener unless you use some sort of naming convention. For instance: chrJohn, chrMary, objRiffle, plcNewYork.

Also, the nature of the relationship is not visible on Scrivener (i.e. you don’t know if a character is participant or observer).

As you see, some limitations apply on the current implementation. Can you think of any improvements?

This is likely covered under some of the previous suggestions or in changes you’ve already made - but it would be helpful if Aeon allowed for custom meta-data fields like scriv does (that you can link and sync back and forth of course).

I’ve just been made aware of yet another type of meta-data I could be tracking in my documents. So it’s easy enough to add a field in Scriv - but how to get it into Aeon? For the time being I can import it into the Tags field, but if I also needed to export Keywords, or if somewhere down the line I run into yet another type of data that could be in both programs - then I may run into problems as I’m out of “slots” on the Aeon side.

One of the things I’m doing is exporting my timelines as an HTML table so that I have all this data nicely presented - so if there were to be custom meta-data in Aeon it would be nice if there could be a check box to optionally export that meta-data field as well. (Sorry if that makes the HTML generation a nightmare :slight_smile: )

I’d like to be able to sync both directions any number of times. I typically use Aeon Timeline when I discover a plot issue that needs to be resolved, so there’s already something in Scrivener. I don’t start a project in Aeon Timeline, develop the timeline then send it on a one way trip to Scrivener.

I’d either need Scrivener to provide the right metadata fields for Aeon Timeline or a way to create the metadata; for example by dragging objects from Scrivener into place on the timeline and then attaching entities.

One suggestion I have for Aeon Timeline is further highlighting of selected objects in addition to filtering. For example - select or hover over an entity, all intersecting events get emphasised and others de-emphasised. Select or hover over an entity, all intersecting entities get emphasised and others de-emphasised. The existing highlighting, even bold, is not very conspicuous. It would help to have vertical background shading or lines for time boundaries (days, weeks), depending on zoom setting. Filtering removes events, but I want to be able to see an entity’s events in the context of the other events.

I have also found Aeon Timeline useful for planning real life event logistics. Thanks to Matt for creating this app and for continuing to develop it.

I use Aeon Timeline and LOVE it! In fact, I ordered Scrivener and signed up for a class on how to use it just so I could integrate Aeon Timeline (I have a HUGE complex timeline and re-writing everything into Scrivener would be a nightmare). However, I’ve since discovered the Scrivener Windows interface has a bunch of bugs and stuff that does not work in comparison to the instructor’s examples in the class I’m taking, which uses the iOS interface. One of the biggest concerns I have about the integration has to do with importing web pages. I have a lot of web links in Aeon and right now Scrivener pretty much sucks at importing them. On top of the import freezing each time I try to drag and drop a web site, when it does work it tries to use Internet Explorer, which Windows 10 doesn’t even have and Microsoft doesn’t offer anymore–hasn’t since 2015.

I’ve also discovered a bunch of other anomalies in the Scrivener Windows interface, so now I’m hesitant on whether or not I even want to try the integration. This makes upsets me because I have a huge book project I’m working on and had heard all sorts of awesome things about Scrivener. But now I’m discovering the program’s not quite as steady as I’d hoped.

I would LOVE to see Literature and Latte bring their Scrivener Windows interface up to the iOS standard so I can set up my project with Aeon Timeline integration in mind.

Anyway, that’s my two-cents worth of feedback.

J Hups

@jnhups: I’m coming to assist your view. While my project isn’t as complex as yours, I’ve encountered several quirks concerning user interface and meta data sync with Aeon Timeline and Scrivener. I’ve found some workarounds for the most needed features, but it still feels as if Windows is the unloved stepdaughter.

If I ever will become a bestselling author, I promise to donate to the developers generously to bring Mac and Windows versions on par… :wink:

A good story is driven by interesting things happening to interesting people in interesting places. As authors, we have to manage WHO, WHAT, WHEN and WHERE.

Aeon Timeline does an excellent job with WHAT and WHEN through a rich set of definable properties and sync capabilities of event objects with Scrivener. I don’t think there’s much missing with event sync. It seems both versatile and flexible. However, unlike some of the other posters, I’m not trying to move a huge timeline from AT2 into S2. My projects have grown organically in S2 and have been synced into AT2 as the project grew. I won’t say everything is perfect in event-sync-land as my experience is limited. Using custom meta-data seems to be a reasonable way of handling data sync, perhaps with some refinements.

WHO and WHERE are handled in AT2 through “entity” objects which are far more primitive than event objects. Entities are used for all non-events: people, places, story arcs, chapters… Entities can be just about anything an author decides to define in their timeline. It’s my opinion that it’s the entity area which needs the most work and my gut feeling is that most of this has to happen on the AT2 end of the relationship. I think if we fully define how entity sync should work in AT2, only then can Matt suggest to Keith whether there’s some tweaking which would assist from the Scrivener side.

If AT2 only had a timeline view, the current sync situation would be quite sufficient. But, AT2 has a relationship view which I find even more powerful than outline view in S2. Relationship view excels at showing the relationship between events (WHAT/WHEN) with the people, locations, arcs, chapters, etc… It’s very powerful for sorting out continuity errors in your plot timeline.

There are some definite flaws in the way the two programs are syncing as of writing this. My biggest pet peeve is how AT2 tries to autodetect and auto-create new entities. If you make a minor typo in a place name, for example, it populates your AT2 entity list with a new location. So it’s pretty easy to end up with “Main St.”, “Main St”, “main st.”, “main st” and “Main Street” in your entity list, all versions of the same intended location. I asked about this in the blog, but what we really need is a way for custom meta-data fields to be able to either pick from a list or auto-complete names. I understand from Keith that these are currently just dumb text inputs and it may not be possible to implement. If that is the case, then I’d encourage Matt to remove this auto-creation feature or make it a feature that can be toggled off by the user.

I think what is really needed as a minimum or floor to synchronization is the ability to arbitrarily assign a Scrivener document to an arbitrary entity. The bare minimum information to be synced could be nothing more than the title/name and the synopsis/description. That would allow us as authors to put a brief description of the character, place, arc… in the synopsis in Scrivener, then see that information in the relationship view in AT2. It would be wonderful to have more sophisticated sync, but I don’t you’ll find any two authors that will agree on how that should work. We each have our own binder structure and ways to organize character and location information. At least with this minimal model, any author would be able to point any entity to any document and say “This document has the info on this particular person/place/arc/etc…” If we try to get too sophisticated with a sync model, one of two things is going to happen. 1) It’s too complex and doesn’t get implemented. 2.) It’s too restrictive and forces authors to change the way their binder is organized.

I do think that, with a bit of joint effort among the Scrivener/Aeon Timeline devs and the user communities, we could come up with some sort of “best practices” or “recommended workflow” for getting the most out of the two programs. They certainly are a good fit. What Scrivener lacks in visual representation is covered by Aeon Timeline. What AT2 lacks in drill-down depth of information about a single event or entity is readily covered off in Scrivener, which is designed from the ground up for recording detail.

I believe where most users get into trouble with AT2/Scriv sync is when they try to bury too much information in AT2. We as users need to recognize the strengths of each program and not try to do everything on one end of the relationship. We need to accept that not everything we have in Scrivener needs to be displayed in AT2. I guess what I’m saying, is there is a difference between “need to have” and “nice to have”. Let’s start with the basics, then see how it goes from there.

I just downloaded the trial version because i was looking for a timeline software, when i saw this one sync’s with Scrivener. Which i love, and am new to. no brainer i want it.

but i want it to be intuitive too. I would have expected Aeon would know i have scrivener projects and let me open them some how. But if i browse to a scrivener file, its disabled greyed out. No way that i can see, right now, how to get that sync to occur.

thanks if you know

  1. The projects that you want to sync can’t be open in Scrivener. Close them in Scrivener before you try to do anything with them in Aeon Timeline.
  2. The commands you want in Aeon Timeline are under the Sync menu, not the File menu.
  3. Please, please, read about Scrivener syncing in the Aeon Timeline manual before you go any further with this.

Thank You Silver Dragon.

I did follow your instructions. But I still get the
“Selected Project is open in another application,” error message. Nothing is open. I had restarted the machine to kill any processes or whatever.

So now Im reluctant to pursue this further, but just curious if this is a known issue. The sync doesnt seem to work that great. I have seen other posts, though not exhaustively.

This almost feels like a feature that would be great in Scrivener period.

ANyway, thanks for response.

First quit Aeon completely. Go back to Scrivener and open and then close the project. If you get a message in Scrivener that the project is open elsewhere, ignore it. Then quit Scrivener completely. In Aeon, create a new timeline document. Now try to sync in Aeon . The Scrivener sync panel should open.

It’s not automatic. Few things having to do with Scrivener syncing are. I find Aeon Timeline sync valuable, but there’s still a lot of hand work to do.

But yeah, if it’s not at the level of “intuitive” you’re comfortable with, I get it. Sorry I can’t be of more help.