My App Store Review

Just thought I’d share this with the devs. It’s the review of Scrivener I just posted on the app store:

[i]"I’ll be blunt. If you’re writing your novel, research paper, screenplay, poetry, or anything else in Word of Pages, you’re missing out. Big time. Scrivener is an industrial-strength writing and writing-organization app that will blow you away. So far it has revolutionized my creative process, and I’ve only been using it for a couple of weeks! It is a truly magical app, one that helps you transform your ideas into structure, and the structure into words on the page. Right now I’m working on trasnferring my first novel over to Scrivener from an MS Word document so my editor and I can work on it scene-by-scene, and just by way of organizing the document’s parts the way it does — and by giving me the freedom to experiment with structurally — Scrivener has helped me see the novel in a whole new light. It gives me the power to reorder the scenes and chapters however I like, and to rewrite, edit, cut, paste, and rearrange things in any order whatsoever.

The idea of using a filesystem-like “Binder” where individual “Scrivenings” (i.e, smaller pieces of a larger work) are kept organized in a heirarchical fashion, using drag-and-drop to order them or adjust the overall structure of the hierarchy, is brilliant. Scrivener abstracts the writing process from the formatting and output process, which is in itself a stroke of pure genius; now — if you want to — you can write, say, single-spaced, in an attractive font like Cochin or Hoefler Text, with italics and fancy em-dashes and smart quotes, but have your output appear in Courier, double-spaced, using underlining, hyphens and and straight-quotes, with the formatting used depending on a document’s “level” in the Binder. (Not to mention the fact that you can drag in imported documents, PDFs, images, what have you and put them in your “Research” folder, to keep them handy within the project itself!) And, bonus points — Scrivener will even let you specify images for your writing paper’s “texture” and the backdrop behind it; no more sterile white rectangle as your blank page, no more boring blue or black backdrops behind it. Ever wanted to get rid of page boundaries altogether and just write your heart out on one big, long spool of paper? Scrivener can do that. Ever wanted the line you’re writing to always stay at the center, top, or bottom of the page as you advance? It does that, too. Ever wanted to carve up your prose any way you want — into paragraphs, pages, scenes, chapters — and be able to reorder them however you wish, with no penalties? Yep, it does that, too. How about special formatting for screenplays and scripts, or special typography options for your final output, or integrating with your favorite citation manager? Indeed, it does all of that and more. And best of all, all of this power comes packaged in a clean, easy-to-use interface that invites the user to explore and experiment, and comes with a very well-written, easy-to-understand user manual that is in-depth and comprehensive without being dense or obtuse in any way

All in all, I’d say Scrivener is the best $45 I’ve spent in a while. It does everything that Word used to do for my fiction, and then-some. It has helped me me get more organized by letting me work on whatever scene or passage I want. in any order I decide to, while still keeping all the parts of my project in the correct sequence for when it comes time to stitch them together into a cohesive whole — a process Scrivener calls Compiling, and which couldn’t be easier. I highly and heartily recommend Scrivener to everybody who wants or needs to do serious writing, whether that’s a term paper for class (written two of them in it so far), or your next novel (bringing one over, just started another one), or even poetry (want to put each stanza in its own Scrivening? Go for it). So go on, give Scrivener a try — I promise you, you WILL NOT be disappointed!"

P.S. — The developer of the program is one of the most actively-involved developers on the planet. Tech support is quick and responsive, with the devs responding to emails usually within the day, even for things like feature-requests, reporting bugs, or other comments in general, and Scrivener boasts a very robust — and extremely active — community of highly-involved useers who are always willing to help one another and share their insights and ideas. The sense of community this app has is phenomenal, so bonus points that that department, too.[/i]

Maybe it’s a little on the glowy side, but hey, I only say such things because I think they’re true.

Blimey - thank you very much! Much appreciated, and thank you for taking the time to go into detail for potential purchasers, too - such reviews are especially helpful now that Apple has made us take the mention of the free trial version out of our App Store description. I see your review is already on there - thanks for the five stars as well!

All the best,

The phrase “information age” is a shortened version of the real descriptor. We live in an obfuscated information age.

It’s funny: Apple has explicitly said they don’t want free trial software versions in the MAS. At the same time, they get bent out of shape when developers provide a reference to developer-hosted trial software downloads. I suppose that Apple’s concerned that customers will buy directly from the developers after using the free trial.

Microsoft announced that they will allow software trials in their Win8 app store. I hope that pushes Apple to do the same in the MAS.

Considering the number of free/lite versions of apps available on the App Store (particularly for iOS), I’ve always found it baffling that Apple has a policy against trial versions. There have been a number of times where I might be interested in an app, but haven’t bought it because there was no demo available.

It works for Sony and Microsoft, so why not apps?

This baffles me, too - it’s fine for programs that are less than $10, but who wants to take a punt with $40? It makes me uncomfortable because it puts a lot more pressure on the description and screenshots - if a user gets the wrong idea about the app, spends $45 and doesn’t like it, that leads to a bad review; if a user gets to try it first and finds it isn’t for them, then they aren’t out of pocket and we don’t have an unhappy user.

Nearly a year on and there are several things the App Store hasn’t addressed. There’s still no way of offering upgrade pricing, for instance - so what do we do when we come to version 3.0? Apple have always just charged users full price again to upgrade a product, but what about those of us who like to offer discounted updates? It’s a shame because all the mechanisms are in place to make this an easy process - the App Store knows if you have purchased a certain version of a program, so could easily show the discounted price for an update. There’s also no way of offering discount coupons for users - we could never run our NaNoWriMo promotions via the App Store.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining (too much) - the App Store has been very good to us, and it’s added nicely to our revenue (although we still sell more via our regular store); it’s just a shame that Apple hasn’t enhanced it to include these features that almost all software companies will need at some point.

Of course, if they go ahead with application sandboxing - which all MAS apps are supposed to implement by March - then many programs may have to leave the App Store anyway (if they don’t fix certain aspects of sandboxing then Scrivener would no longer work under that system, for instance).

It’s just a shame the App Store hasn’t seen a little more love from Apple, I think.

All the best,

I agree completely. The App Store is how I discovered Scrivener (and how I purchased it), but I only ended up buying it because I went to the website and downloaded the trial and found that I loved it. Had I been able to download the trial in the App Store, I would’ve probably purchased it faster, and the process would’ve been smoother and more elegant, IMHO.

As it is, Apple really needs to expand the App Store. Not only are there no trial editions offered of apps, and not only is there no upgrade pricing, but there’s also no Shopping Cart or Wish List features, no way to Bookmark an app or a developer’s page. No browsing history. A very un-Mac-like search engine. No way to directly request refunds. Really, Apple’s store is a poor offering. I only purchased from there because I do like the seamless install procedure (not that I minded the old “download the DMG” method, but this way is faster). I hope Apple improves the store in the future, because right now, there isn’t a whole lot of “up side” for either developers or users there.