How to Integrate Scrivener and Scapple


I have both Scrivener and Scapple and really like them both. As I work with them I have this sense that I may not be getting the most from them. Feels like there must be ways to integrate my Scapple brainstorming and mindmapping with my more organized writing layouts…but how? Wondering if others have found ways of integrating these two powerful tools in some synergistic ways? Or is there a tutorial on this? Tried searching for info on this but didn’t really find anything so thought I’d ask the questions here.

Any future plans for more integration of the two programs?


For myself, I’ve never really tried too hard to do this, nor found the need to. I find that the types of things I use Scapple for are more along the lines of what I would use a plain-text editor for. Simple and often disposable staging grounds for things which may evolve into more concrete and permanent structures, but if done so, nearly always in something else. I don’t find that the way in which Scapple promotes thought is all that conducive to forming a foundation of ideas in an environment that is tailored toward making something (rather than just thinking about it).

So when it comes to making that leap from ideas to building, I don’t really want the scraps, false-starts and useful nuggets in Scrivener (or whatever program I’m using to manifest the idea) as native entities in that software. Sure, I want that board in my Binder so I can easily refer to it and maybe even add to it by opening it in Scapple, but there isn’t anything in the Scapple board itself that I want as outline elements in Scrivener.

There is one exception to this very formative use of Scapple, and that is in the composition of short pieces of written material—such as correspondence like this—using the Stacks feature. Something like this post could be expressed in a per-paragraph basis, with rewrites in separate columns. Then I would select the final version of that and copy and paste it into a text file or browser field. That’s probably the most pragmatic use for Scapple that I have. I like to use it as genuine text editor that lets me write anywhere on the “page” and easily sideline tangents without outright discarding them. And yes, sometimes these end up in Scrivener, but always as a singular text file in that case, and always as a one-way flattening of the Scapple idea space into a solidified and linear form.

This all probably stems, at least in part, from my philosophies on the development of ideas, and how integration, synchronisation and other conveniences are ultimately detrimental to the process. I would rather hand transcribe notes from a paper journal than use a digital journal that “just works” everywhere I go and automatically dumps content into my computer through “apps” and “clouds” and all that. I would rather mark up a static file and then review those markings one by one, than have edits synchronised across platforms. I deliberately choose to take the longer route, when it comes to these things, because I feel there is merit in the process of iteration and in the evaluation of one’s thoughts as they transform from formative to more descriptive and at last, final shapes. So I suppose my aversion to integrating a free-thought tool with a production tool (and a production tool from editing and review tools, and those from finishing tools) is the salt that should be taken with this discourse. :slight_smile:

Maybe I’m missing out, making life difficult for myself, but it seems to work for me.

Any future plans for more integration of the two programs?

That would be for Keith to say, but something that limits what can be done is that the two programs don’t share the same principle for how information should be organised. Scrivener is highly dependent upon depth. Nothing can exist without a parent, and everything can only have one parent. Things go in things, and how things are sorted into things is crucial to how they will be expressed in written form. The concept of hiding information and only letting the peaks show is important to the goal of the software: to make sense of massive amounts of text. Scapple on the other hand is flat, flat, flat. Everything is exposed. Every idea unavoidably takes up space, and the more complex the idea the more space it consumes. Nothing can be hidden, and even the most collective metaphor in the program, the background shape, is nothing more than a rectangle that moves beneath other rectangles, perhaps moving them too, but only optionally.

When it comes to import/export, that’s one thing, because information can be coerced into different forms, but when it comes to actually integrating live objects together from such disparate systems, you have to choose your battles very carefully.

But maybe you have something less tightly knit in mind?

One of the things I like about Scapple is that I can use it as a front-end for a lot of things (a bit like Drafts on the i-Pad) - I throw down a lot of notes and snippets in a day and some get structurally developed or written elsewhere (resp. Tinderbox and Scrivener) some become long-term storage in DT and some simply get left behind. I think Ioa is right that it’s sometimes detrimental to be allowed by software sync to ignore things you’ve done, and I find even that good old cut and paste gives me enough opportunity to review and re-consider as I move items. My main area is historically dense non-fiction so I let Tinderbox do all of the heavy lifting for the fixtures and fittings of that kind of work - ever more so as my own memory is already age-afflicted - but there has to be room between Scapple and Tinderbox for the momentum of writing, and that’s generally done in Scrivener with re-considered notes copied from Scapple.

Incidentally, and apropos another thread, I have found that Dragon Dictate works very nicely with Scapple for the creation and content of new notes. I can fill a screen with snippets without ever touching the keyboard, so I’m getting even more into the daily `front-end’ habit: a Scapple a day, as they say …

On occasion, re-typing - and in the process, re-thinking and refining - has much to recommend it.

[OT: in one of my places of previous employment, high store was set on re-drafting - for reasons of clarity, interest-creation and narrative drive. I think the highest number of re-drafts on one project was 52. What I learnt from that and other experiences was that success in re-drafting tends to follow a kind of dromedary camel hump - in other words, a sharp initial improvement and a peak, followed by a falling away, sometimes to a level below the starting-point. The key skill is in knowing when enough is enough, when the number of your re-drafts hits the sweet spot at the top of the curve, before boredom and other damaging influences undermine what you have the potential to achieve. In my experience, this sweet spot depends on the project and the writer (but will always be a lot less than 52 :slight_smile: ).]