iCloud Sync

Thank you.

And thank you, too.

Isn’t this just some piece of metadata which can be synchronized like everything else?

A file missing in DT can be just as annoying as a missing chapter in a novel, and would be a good reason to try the sync again. The worst that can happen is the file appearing twice, as “File” and “File copy”, to be sorted out manually by the user. I can’t understand why, if a chapter written on Device #1 doesn’t appear on Device #2 because of a failed sync, the app can’t simply retry the sync. If another sync doesn’t work, the user will have to live with the fact that the connection is bad and the sync can’t be performed. We all live with that pretty much on a daily basis.

My point exactly. Live with an empty binder entry if the sync failed, or leave the binder entry at its local state if it exists already. If you edit that entry before a successful sync has been made, just duplicate the entry as per the example above and let the user choose.

I get the point about the resources and time allocated to DT development. I’m just trying to understand how big the problem really is. BTW, DT achieves all of the this without requiring the user to quit any of the apps being synchronized. You can sync in whatever order you want without quitting anything. The worst that has happened to me, after years of work with multiple-gigabyte databases including thousands of items, synchronized across two Macs and two iOS devices, is the “File copy” scenario above.

Surely all of this can’t be rendered impossible because Scrivener can keep binder items in a particular order?

No. In Scrivener, the Binder structure is maintained via a completely separate file, which is updated as needed with pointers to the component documents containing your actual writing.

I’m not sure how you would make “binder location” into “just some piece of metadata.” By definition, it’s an attribute of the entire project, not of the individual file. Something like, say, assigning a “location code” to individual files is meaningless unless you have a reference “grid” for that code. (Sort of like saying that a location is at 10 degrees North, 15 degrees West, but neglecting to mention that you’re actually on Mars, not Earth.)

I haven’t had the pleasure of reviewing the DevonThink support queue. But I can tell you that people who write to the Scrivener support address are not at all willing to “just live with” failed synchronization events. They get remarkably grumpy when they discover that entire chapters of their novels are missing or, worse, have been replaced with older versions.

(Which is another point. In my own DT usage, I don’t do much editing of individual files, so there’s not much risk that I’ll have a version mismatch. Scrivener, on the other hand, is a “creation” application, not an “archive” application, and so the changes within component files can be enormous.)

Which is in fact how Scrivener handles synchronization conflicts, when it detects them.


Earlier in this thread, Keith discussed the differences between “shoebox” applications, like DevonThink, “document” applications, like Word, and Scrivener, which is a hybrid of both. Might be worth reading before we spend any more time beating the dead horse.


I’ve tested DT in the past and my experience was that it was made to store stuff. Scrivener is primarily for writing, creating new text that doesn’t exist anywhere else or before. So if there is a serious hickup in the synchronization you might end up with several thousand freshly written words just being gone, forever. A pdf you downloaded to DT can be downloaded again, but that new text has to be written again, from scratch.

Scrivener is primarily not a database app.

Yes. I hesitate to say that people don’t write long works in DevonThink. It’s theoretically possible, and there are users in the DT forums who talk about assembling long and detailed notes that could certainly morph into technical papers, if not books. But just as Scrivener is not primarily a database, DevonThink is not primarily a writing tool.


Thank you. The first sentence of my post which revived this thread actually says: “I’ve read KB’s detailed explanation above of the hybrid document/shoebox nature of Scrivener”.

I’m not sure either. I am not a developer. I agree that is should probably be an attribute of the entire project. I also know that DT stores a bunch of metadata outside of the items themselves (it’s actually visible in @mbbntu’s screenshot above) and syncs it without any (major) issues.

Judging by the volume of online exchange around this dead horse, the level of grumpiness associated with Scrivener’s sync limitations isn’t negligible, either. I still don’t understand what makes Scrivener file format so exceptional compared to other complex data structures. Of course, a developer is under no obligation to explain that. I was simply hoping to grasp once and for all what the problem was.

As Katherine has stated above, the horse is long dead, no point in flogging it any longer.

Keith has stated the issue clearly, so I don’t get why the need for endless ’but explain why’ and ‘this other (very different) application works, it must be simple for Scrivener to.’

Accept at the moment there is no simple answer and all the but why’s and demands for explanations won’t change it.

Keith has designed a solution with the most easily accessible api (dropbox) that works. He doesn’t owe anyone an explanation of his decision process, nor need to defend it.

I’m sure if the available tools/Apple’s processes/etc, etc change he may revisit synching as time and resources allow.

Remember, he is the sole developer of the amazing Mac and iOS versions so I’m picking he is up to his eyeballs in those, plus running the company.

I peeked at some of the metadata files for one of my DT databases. They appear to be binary, so it’s hard to say what all is in there. As I said, though, DT has no functionality comparable to Scrivener’s Binder.

One is unlikely to suddenly discover that iOS Scrivener doesn’t support iCloud when it’s the night before an important deadline. As one of those responsible for the support queue, I can say that it’s much easier to handle complaints about functions that don’t exist at all than complaints about functions that are unreliable.


I never said the answer had to be simple.

And BTW, if the iOS and macOS versions weren’t excellent pieces of software I wouldn’t have paid L&L 75 euros for both. However, for that sort of expenditure, I do find that being the sole developer of both is not an acceptable reason for not implementing what pretty much everyone else on the planet has done. But apparently, mileage on what is acceptable or not varies quite a bit.

Thank you for your comments.

You’re looking at it from a strange position, as I see it.

Someone has produced a product.
You decide to buy it.
Afterwords you complain about one detail of the product’s design.
The producer has no obligation to explain his design decisions but choose to do so anyhow.
You claim that the answer is “not acceptable”.

Well, get yourself another product then. Curiosity is one thing. Demanding answers and then stating that the answers given are “not acceptable” is childish in my opinion.

It’s a free world and if I would decide to produce an app its design would be decided by me, not by anyone else. I wouldn’t be obliged to have to defend or even explain my design decisions. Neither does KB.

A parallell discussion on this forum is about reference handling software. I use Papers 3, which is under a constant threat to disappear and be replaced by the subscription version of Redcube (who bought Papers 3). So I keep a constant lookout for a possible replacement. Some praise Bookends as an alternative, but it doesn’t have some of the things I like about Papers 3. Does this give me the right to criticise Bookends? No. Does it give me the right to ask why a certain feature in Papers 3 is missing in Bookends? Absolutely! Does it give me the right to demand an “acceptable” answer? Certainly not!

I have never understood why some people think they have a right to demand changes to an app or explanations about its design. Do they behave the same way about other products, like cars, or tools, or furniture, or books, or movies, or music?
“I really like this song but I want an acceptable explanation of why you didn’t add drums in the last part of the second verse! Stating that you don’t have any drums is not an acceptable answer!”

This makes an interesting read: https://discourse.devontechnologies.com/t/some-thoughts-on-sync/56789?u=mbbntu.

Seriously debating whether software is or isn’t an art form would take this thread miles away from its intended objective. Let me just say that I strongly disagree. Music and literature are not productivity applications.

I also believe — or witness, rather — that software is being regularly transformed, updated and rethought by its developers based on user input and feedback.

These exchanges are indeed getting weirder by the hour. Thank you for your comments and all the best to you.

[quote=“Cirrocumulus” However, for that sort of expenditure, I do find that being the sole developer of both is not an acceptable reason for not implementing what pretty much everyone else on the planet has done. But apparently, mileage on what is acceptable or not varies quite a bit.

Thank you for your comments.[/quote]
Pretty much everyone in the planet has not implemented a solution that works reliably with a Scrivener project package.

As has been explained at great length, multiple times by Keith and L&L support staff, it is not that simple, and the only currently reliable option is the only one supported.

We might all wish for other alternatives, but until something changes in those alternatives, what we have is what we have.

Arguing the toss ad nauseum will not change that.

That’s beside the point. Tools are productivity applications. So are sewing machines. And so are a lot of other things people buy. And those products are transformed, updated and rethought. That isn’t something restricted to computer products.

So, do you regularly request that other producers change their products to your liking or explain why not in a way that you find acceptable? I want to know why you think you have the right to do so when it comes to computer apps.

Your answers so far are not acceptable. :wink:

Well, the intended objective appears to be to bully Keith into throwing out Scrivener and starting fresh. I’d rather talk about art, honestly.


Think that is a completely misjudged, unfounded, and unnecessary ad hominem attack against someone who has politely asked questions about how things work.

I see Cirrocumulus‘s posts as an attempt to learn and engage; not bully at all. The replies they have received from some people on this thread are both bizarre and uncalled for.

Think Katherine’s post falls foul of the single rule that governs the forum:


Asking a question is not the issue. After it has been explained multiple times and still the questioner keeps on, wears a little thin

Some input from someone who has not been involved in the above discussion.

I disagree.

Considered in the context of the generous, lengthy explanations that were offered to the poster prior to this comment, I find this post rude, snide and, yes, a bit bullying, in a sort of passive aggressive way.


To be clear, the intended objective of the thread appears to be bullying. I responded to Cirrocumulus specifically because of their comment on thread derailment.


Hi All,

I’ve read through the arguments for and against various subscription models, and I just wanted to add my personal experience:

I’ve stopped using Dropbox for anything but Scrivener. In every other case, iCloud or Google Drive works better for me. But because I use four different devices for writing (Desktop, Laptop, iPhone, iPad), and Dropbox’s free plan has a limit of 3 registered devices, I’ve been forced to subscribe to dropbox to keep Scrivener up to date on each device.

So now I’m paying $120 a year just to use Scrivener as I was before. I’m not here to complain about that, but here’s the thing: If anyone deserves that money, it’s L&L, not Dropbox.

If L&L wanted to add a paid sync service, just know that I’d be ready and willing to sign-up.