How does Scrivenings work in iOS?

I’m a little confused by this. Is it an available feature or not? I’m working on my book so much on iPad now that I really need to find out. Can’t find anything in the documentation about it. I use the Scrivenings feature all the time on my Mac. I am really hoping it is available on iOS.

If I tap on a folder in my manuscript on my iPad, I see a list of chapters on the left. On the right-hand side is a big blank space. At the top are some icons, and one of them is the corkboard icon. I tap on that (twice), and then I see the corkboard with index cards, one for each of my chapters. Now I notice that the corkboard icon has switched to be a page-with-lines icon. I tap on it again, hoping to get a Scrivenings view, but I’m just taken back to a big blank space.

There is an icon at the bottom left, and when I tap that, it does give me the Scrivenings view, albeit in a pop-up that is slightly shrunk from the size of the big blank space (now in the background layer).

I’m confused because it seems like that cork board icon on the top toolbar should be a toggle to switch between cork board and Scrivenings. Is it not? Is the bottom left icon the only way of getting Scrivenings view? You can’t edit with that one.

The icon you are referring to in the top toolbar toggles between corkboard and container text. It is functionally very similar to pressing Cmd-2 repeatedly on a Mac: it switches between the folder’s text content (from your description it sounds empty) and showing its child items as cards on a corkboard.

There is no actual live Scrivenings in iOS, the platform really isn’t capable enough to handle that kind of processing at this point in time, and I think even the necessary ingredients are unavailable for building such a view in the text engine.

The button at the bottom that brings up the smaller preview area is the “Draft Navigator”, and it takes the place of Scrivenings in the mobile version. You can’t edit, but you can read and tap anywhere to jump straight to the text you tapped on.

That’s what I figured.

Really? In iOS Scrivener the Draft Navigator displays the entire manuscript. The Scrivenings feature on the Mac is only displaying the concatenated chapters (documents) of a single folder. Oh, well, I’m sure there’s a good reason for holding this back. There are so many killer features on the iOS version that I’m sure I can learn to live with out.


I don’t understand this. If my folder has child items—all the particular chapters for that Part of the book—why on earth would I put text in the container? It’s a folder, a shell, a container for files (subparts), not for text.

Could be many reasons. Maybe you want to precede the part or chapter with a quote, or with a description of the chapter, “Wherein our hero realizes the importance of orderly defecation”, or you want to make a note to yourself about what is missing or work that has to be done on the chapter/part …

It is capable of a bit more than that to be fair. Have you ever tried clicking on the Draft folder with Scrivenings enabled? It might take a few seconds, but you absolutely can load a 150k word book comprising hundreds of files in one shot and edit those hundreds of files seamlessly (and that is a conservative, not too out of the ordinary example—this project right here that I’m typing into would require 995 RTF files to be loaded at once into a near 900,000 word document, and maintain a constant link back to those files, saving changes as I edit on a 2 second auto-save timer (imagine for a moment, loading 995 DOCX files in Word for some perspective :wink: ). If the iOS version is going to have Scrivenings, it needs to be capable of the breadth of what that feature promises, but the hardware isn’t there yet, and the software is still a bit too primitive to provide the necessary ingredients, as I understand it.

So something that made it easy to read words in context and navigate to them to edit if need be was the best way to address the core things Scrivenings provides, without actually being Scrivenings. This feature is the result of that deliberation.

To perhaps put this into perspective, and illustrate some of the challenges behind these features, the version of the Draft Navigator you have now is only the way it is because Keith found a clever way to display bulk formatted text within the constraints of the design. The original specification, and the way it worked in early alpha builds, was a plain-text dump printed in your default font. Until the workaround was discovered, it was too expensive to even display that much rich text. The difference in complexity between displaying plain-text and rich text is non-trivial, but both are nearly identical when compared to the complexity of making that stack editable and hosting it in the device. That is another realm of not-possible for the foreseeable future.

Many people put chapter notes into the folder text, by way of simple example. It’s a convenient place for them and by default folder text is set to not compile. You can change that though if you wish, and use the folder text to print an epigraph for the chapter, to give another common example of the basic capability. Really there aren’t many rules about it, you can use it however it works for you (or not at all), and there is quite a lot of flexibility packed into the design. For those that make heavy use of container text for whatever reason, or heavy use of outlines beneath files for whatever reason, the iOS version supports that flexibility.

That’s a larger topic, so if you’re interested, the user manual does got a bit into the theory, in §7.1.2, Scrivener as an Outliner, and the section following that one goes into “files and folders” as they pertain to Scrivener. In short: they are both the same thing, and everything in Scrivener can be a container, even a PDF. If you want to sort PDFs into PDFs topically, there is nothing stopping you—and the iOS version should work with that flexibility as best it can, supporting it and not hindering it.

OK, right, a quote. Yes. Didn’t think of that.


the version of the Draft Navigator you have now is only the way it is because Keith found a clever way to display bulk formatted text within the constraints of the design

Well, I have to say (after using it a few days), he did a great job. The Draft Navigator will suffice fine for now; I think it works really well. The power of the Scrivenings feature is such that I think it will be put to better use for me once I’ve gotten a few hundred pages of the book churned out; and for that, I’ll want to be on my Mac.

Because it’s your manuscript, and Scrivener isn’t going to tell you what you can and can’t do with it.

Others have given specific examples where this particular feature is useful, but that’s the fundamental idea. Scrivener is process agnostic: it seeks to support as many organizational methods as possible for as many document types as possible.