I freely grant that I don’t understand Scrivener’s relationship with Markdown, especially on iOS. On iOS the generate markdown capability breaks what seems to me to be a necessary aspect of Markdown, given that Scrivener doesn’t have styles and therefore can’t actually insert things like * and > to make bullets, block quotes, and the like. So, that’s OK, it has been made clear that Markdown isn’t a priority for Scrivener, even though some of us wish it were. So here’s what I’ve figured out that I’ll do.
My purposes are two: First, writing articles for my web site, which is generated to HTML from Markdown, using Jekyll. Historically I’ve done that using Sublime Text, but I’m thinking Scrivener could let me have a bunch of articles in process and see them all together in a useful way.
Second, I am doing a series of articles that I think want to become a book. This is a moderately sweeping set of ideas that fit together – about Agile Software Development, of course. Since my prior book, The Nature of Software Development, was in Markdown, and this one will likely go to the same publisher or maybe Leanpub, plus at least some chapters will go to my site, Markdown again seems like a good idea. So here’s where I am now:
I have decided just to bite the bullet and hit return-return between paragraphs. This is very 20th century, but Scrivener doesn’t really want to help with it unless I want to give up * and > prefixes, without which there is no way I have found to get lists and block quotes. So I have set up a style on the Mac, that’s just some sans serif font, Arial if I recall, and a tiny indent on all the lines of the paragraph except the first. A tiny hanging indent, just a few points.
The reason for this is that if I forget and just hit one return between paragraphs, you get a little visual blip. An indented first line would do the same job, of course but since I’m basically writing in Markdown, I’d rather keep it looking like plain text.
Now I just go ahead and use * for lists, > for block quote, and the various Markdown things for links. I might use notes and the like but since Scrivener (iOS at least) can’t seem to convert its links to anything useful, I’ll just do without.
(Possibly the Mac compile is smarter about those things. In the fullness of time, I’ll experiment with that but I plan to do most of the writing on iOS.)
So what’s left in Scrivener that makes it worth while? A fair amount. In particular the binder organization, and the index cards (even the weak ones in iOS) will give me a decent ability to organize things, and set up quick documents as placeholders. I’m not very good at using those to organize and improve my writing process but I am already feeling the benefit over a loose collection of files, especially on iOS where you have no decent folders to speak of.
What do I need? Well, styles and the ability to compile to markdown would let me use more of Scrivener’s links and such. Probably most important would be
- Ability to move documents and folders between projects ala Mac.
- Stronger cork board and index cards.
- Scrivenings mode.
Doubtless more will come to mind, but now that I’ve given up on actually compiling to markdown, I think I’ve found a good place to live.
Questions welcome. Ideas even more welcome!