Multiple users sharing a document

I know that this probably would not be easy to implement in Scrivener, but here goes:

My writing partner & myself work collaboratively on screenplays, and we would really love the ability to have some sort of “collaborative editing” for our Scrivener documents, so we can both be working on the same outline simultaneously from our respective homes.

Or, at the very least, perhaps some sort of “change tracking ability” (like what Microsoft Word offers), so that we can email the file back & forth to one another in a way that we can easily see the changes that the other person has made.

We were looking at this program called NoteTaker (, which has 2 components available called “NoteShare” and “NoteShare Server”, which let multiple users edit outlines simultaneously over a LAN or WAN. It looks really awesome… looks like a FileMaker Pro/FileMaker Server situation, where multiple users can be editing a file at exactly the same time. Exactly what we would love to have! But we really dislike the user interface of NoteTaker, so it’s highly unlikely that we would ever switch over to that program.

SubEthaEdit ( is a bare-bones text editing program that is centered around document collaboration, both on a LAN and WAN. This seems pretty cool too, but isn’t well-suited for writing screenplays.

Perhaps some sort of syncing ability via MobileMe might be an acceptable option, except we both have different MobileMe accounts so I don’t know how we would deal with that. Maybe it coudl be a syncing service that is independent of MobileMe.

Another website we stumbled upon is, which offers a web-based collaboration outlining program.

Does anyone else write collaboratively with a writing partner, and need some sort of multi-user solution?


Yes, I work with a collaborator, and we have the advantage of sharing the same network. We never work on a file simultaneously. I create a project in Scrivener, work it through a first-draft state, then ZIP it and pass it to her via file sharing. She revises and passes it back. That may occur many times. We don’t track changes, since we always save ZIP copies of the different states.

After we compile and export to Pages, we do turn on its Track Changes. At that stage, the project is getting closer to critical mass, and others, like agent or editor, may be reading it and suggesting changes. Our system works because I outline and draft, while she revises and polishes.

In your case, you want to collaborate at every stage. If Back To My Mac worked well, you could look at each other’s project versions online. The DevonTech people sell a product called Desktop Transporter that might be worth testing: … index.html

Another idea: Pages '09 now has an outlining function. So, write an outline and mail to your collaborator, as Pages or Doc file. At the other end, turn on Track Changes and edit, then return.

You may also “share” files via, but it only allows comments, not editing.

I don’t use Google Docs, but I understand that online collaboration is its purpose.

Thanks guys, for your ideas! :slight_smile:

Tracking changes, while not truly being done, will be easier in the next version. It’s been announced that there will be “revision pens”, which basically means you can select a revision number and whenever you type it will be in a colour which corresponds to that revision level. It would be like typing in red automatically, or blue later on. This way you can write, send up the new zip as druid describes (that really the best way to do things), and all of your changes would be indicated and easy to search for.

But, that isn’t here yet. You could try very simple annotations. Just write, and when you are done press Cmd-Shift-A and put in your initials and Cmd-Shift-Opt-D to insert the date and time. It takes a second, and annotations can be searched in such a way that you could easily go through and find everything containing their initial. Cmd-Ctrl-A will do annotation searching (step through the entire project) with a box below allowing you to type in their initials. If you use a format like av:2009-04-20 12:06, you could even turn on Ghost Notes, and then only the av part would be obvious.

I’d just like to add my voice to this suggestion.

I’ve written a lot in EtherPad, a web-based heir to SubEthaEdit. I’ve written a number of stories collaborating with other authors, where my characters interacted with theirs. (Sort of like roleplay, except more structured: our characters have conversations and interact, as we write what each character does.)

It would be awesome to be able to do something like this in Scrivener. I realize it’s probably crazy-hard to implement, but it would be awesome nonetheless.

Thread necromancy! :slight_smile: This is something we are looking into for the future, as it’s definitely something a lot of users would find useful. As you note, though, this sort of thing is incredibly difficult to implement, because the potential for data loss caused by conflicts is enormous. It’s therefore something that won’t be coming for a while, but something that we do hope to work towards.

All the best,

Have you folks thought of punting and doing a lock per chapter? In most databases you can do record locks and let others utilize the database…maybe something similar for Scrivener?

I’m doing a book on cloud computing with a friend in Gainesville, FL (I’m in Honolulu) and we’re breaking up the book by chapters…I’d love to be able to utilize the tools in Scrivener while my buddy is also. Since we’re not going to be in the same chapter at the same time, record locking shouldn’t be a problem.

I’m also thinking hard about breaking up the 10 chapters into separate projects, and then as we complete each chapter we combine into a master project. Any comments on this?

/brian chee

At the risk of showing my ignorance, Scrivener projects are not databases (at least, not the SQL or FileMaker type of database – I can see that they are databases in the sense of gathering a lot of data in one place). If you open the package and look at the contents, you realise that each “document” in the project has multiple other files associated with it. At that point I usually beat a retreat and go back to what I ought to be doing. As I say, I’m fairly ignorant, but I suspect there would be a lot more to it than “locking a record”. I think if I had to co-operate, I would opt for putting each chapter in a separate project. I shouldn’t really be poking my nose into this technical stuff, however.


The trouble is that even if the chapter is locked, there is the binder to worry about. If one person makes a change to the binder, it has to be reflected in the other person’s binder. That means lots of signals between the two, but then, if the internet connection drops, everything can go out of sync and you can still end up with two irreconcilable projects. Looking at collaboration is on our list for 3.0, but it’s a massive and thorny issue.

All the best,