My experience with the Windows beta

I really appreciate the effort in trying to bring Scrivener to Windows, but I was not able to continue using the current beta version. I think it might be a bit premature to call this beta software since it is missing so many necessary functions. I also question the wisdom of having to tolerate using months of beta code and then ending up with a version of Scrivener that is already obsolete compared to the Mac version. I would be much happier if you added $100 to the price, and got it done in a timely manner.

I also question the wisdom of requiring a separate word processor for final formatting. I attempted to import a 100-page stage play, and I found no way of conveniently applying the simple styles required (e.g. character name, dialogue, stage direction) without multiple clicks. With Open Office, it’s very easy to set up macros (e.g. Ctrl-N, Ctrl-D, etc) and the styles allow for setting the default style for the following line (e.g. dialogue style follows name style). It would have taken thousands of clicks to apply these styles to the file that I imported (instead of hundreds), and it makes the writing process much more cumbersome. Maybe you can now do these things, maybe not, but if you can, it should perhaps be documented a little more prominently. My brief search of the forums came up with “we don’t do style sheets” as the predominant answer.

But the last straw was the lack of page numbers in the “compiled” PDF output - an unforgivable sin. Plain old page numbers were all I needed, and I had managed to get the page numbers INSIDE Scrivener set up as I liked, but the PDF output simply gives you nothing at all. And since importing the Scrivener output into a “real” word processor would require clean-up of the manual page breaks (and re-configuration of the page numbering scheme), this would need to be done every time there is a change to even one character in the Scrivener file. If your writing is an iterative process, this is not only inconvenient, it is impractical and a game-ender. It’s especially frustrating since so much of the program’s “eye candy” (e.g. cork board) are apparently finished, but the important things such as the script output are lacking critical capabilities.

I had high hopes to use Scrivener for a documentary screenplay that I’m just starting, but with these shortcomings, and the fact that even after waiting months for a finished version, the program would still be lacking the features of the current Mac version. I am sorry I wasted so many hours evaluating Scrivener for Windows, and I’m even sorrier that I cannot take advantage of its fantastic features on my upcoming projects.


Hey Mark,

I want you to imagine something: Say you could go back in time to when Scrivener 1.0 first came out on the Mac. That’s quite a few years ago. Then imagine you could ask the people who bought and used it whether they’d like to use Scrivener, or to wait a couple of years until Keith can turn it into version 2.0.

On an unrelated point: I’d really love an Aston Martin. I know Aston Martin’s are theoretically possible, but it’s just not possible for me to buy one at the moment… not enough resources. I’m looking forward with excitement to the day I get my Aston, but in the meantime I’m not going to be without a car that is achievable in the meantime. I mean it’s much better than walking.

Sorry the beta wasn’t for you. I wouldn’t personally agree that it’s premature to call it a beta or indeed missing many necessary functions as I am happily using the beta to write a number of projects, but I guess I may find a different set of functions necessary to you. Hopefully you will find a solution that works for you. I’d also hope you try the finished software (I presume there will be a trial version available) when it’s released and give it another chance. After all, enough writers out there wrote successful publications on version 1 for the Mac - enough to enable Keith to develop version 2.

Although the Windows version will indeed lack several features of the Mac 2.0 version, it includes everything that the Mac 1.0 version had plus a significant number of Mac 2.0’s features and benefits from the interface refinements that were made to 2.0. Scrivener 2.0 for the Mac has, at the time of writing, been in development for seven years. By comparison, the Windows version has been in development for two. So I guess I didn’t get Scrivener 2.0 for Mac done in a “timely manner” either, when you put it like that! :slight_smile: We’re a tiny company - we aren’t Microsoft - and cannot afford a team of developers working around the clock to push out software within short amounts of time (even Microsoft take years to develop their software, though). Lee has been working around the clock, though…

I should also add that even the Mac version has always required users with certain formatting needs to use a word processor for final polish or layout - Scrivener is very much designed as a first draft tool. However, Compile does allow page numbers in headers and footers as of recent betas - just enter the <$p> tag into the header or footer in the “Page Settings” area of Compile.

That said, Scrivener is certainly not going to suit anyone, so thanks for giving it a while anyway.

All the best,

I believe you mean “Scrivener is certainly not going to suit everyone,” no? :smiley:

Can we talk about Aston Martins some more? Vvvvrrroooooom

This is my experience.
I had Scrivener 1.0. It changed my life. I wrote two novels. Then I wrote a load of other things, plays, short stories, poems, in it.
Along the way it turned into Scrivener 2.0 but I can’t say I really noticed. I didn’t go and look for all the lovely new features because I was too busy writing in my happy environment.
I think I’ve used some of the new features now, but I can’t say for sure.
Maybe it got better, but maybe it was just great all along.

and btw - it isn’t a word processor, so don’t get all het up about it not being one!

Why not give it a try properly, like, write a screenplay in it from scratch. I’m sure you’ll come to love it.


Perhaps you expected something different when you downloaded Scrivener. It was primarily designed for novel writing, so expecting it to work perfectly with a script in the beta might be awkward. I would recommend going though the tutorial though. I found many useful things there.

You mentioned manual page breaks. These can be turned on or off by expanding the Compile box and going through the settings. This I also learned from the tutorial.

I know that Scrivener will not suit everyone, but perhaps you judged it without knowing everything it can do. I would recommend going through the tutorial before saying that it is of no use to you.

Who knows, you might find something that will keep you happy.

Thanks for all the comments. Frankly, I was expecting a lot more hostility and defensiveness in the replies, so their lacking is a tribute to the people of this forum and L&L.

I well understand that no software can serve everyone equally - I’ve been writing and using software since I built my first computer back in the '70’s. I shared my experience for those that may be interested in the perspective of someone that had limited expectations with Scrivener other than hearing some great recommendations about it. Perhaps my expectations were too high based on the “Swiss-army-knife” description of Scrivener on the L&L web site. I really don’t need a novel-writing tool as I’m not writing a novel.

And as I am a part-time programmer (from Z-80 assembly to C++), I always look at new programs from a programmer’s perspective. I disagree with a number of the directions the Windows port has taken, but it’s not my place to do anything other than make suggestions (which I did). I truly am disappointed that my experience with Scrivener was not more in tune with my needs.

And (trying not to be too critical), two years to port the program from Mac to Windows is a long time, and unfortunately, the end result of that port will be a program already “obsolete” in comparison to the Mac version. That’s your business decision to make of course, but it sure “disincentivizes” us Windows people.

When using it as a page to type upon, its lack of style support impedes the writing process, What I can do in Open Office (with a few macros that I spent an hour setting up) takes many more clicks and keystrokes in Scrivener. I can export a properly-formatted PDF directly from OO, with proper page breaks and page numbering - something that was impossible with the Windows beta I was using. Ironically, it was possible to set the page numbers as needed within Scrivener, but the PDF output stripped ALL the page numbers out.

As for the Aston Martin reference, let me add my own tortured car metaphor. I need a right-hand-drive Aston, but the left-hand-drive Astons are all that are currently being built. So Aston decides to make RHD cars, but I will have to wait 2-3 years for it to be completed, and it will be based on the 2009 Aston, not the 2011-12 model with all the whiz-bang new features. So in the mean-time, I can drive the half-finished LHD Aston for free (that part’s nice), but unfortunately, only half of the controls work as expected. Oh, and instead of a team of people working on the LHD conversion, it’s being done by one (smart) guy 1000 miles away.


Maybe part of the problem is that in paragraph two of the Scrivener web page, it says:

“Enter Scrivener: a word processor and project management tool…”

So it’s either a word processor or it isn’t. If the “sales department” considers it a
word processor, but the support forums do not, there will be a lot of disappointed
people out there.


We don’t actually have a sales department. :slight_smile: It is a “word processor”, but it isn’t a layout or desktop publishing tool - the trouble is that the lines are rather blurred these days, and Microsoft Word and similar programs are generally still termed word processors even though they are just as much layout and desktop publishing tools. The trouble is that there isn’t a better description - “text editor” has connotations of plain text.

Two years to port the program may be a long time, but with a team of two working on it and the amount of code and complexity in Scrivener for Mac, I don’t think it’s an unreasonable amount of time. As I say, we could never have afforded a whole team to port it, so the long time was inevitable. On the other hand, in retrospect we may have made a mistake in releasing the beta too early, and along the way we have misjudged the amount of time it will take to do things on several occasions. But we’re more of a corner-shop than a supermarket, and we don’t have the luxury of expensive advisers and hiring extra staff to meet deadlines and suchlike. I’m the Company Director, the uber-boss, and I taught myself to program to develop Scrivener; before that I was a teacher. So yes, we make mistakes and we don’t have the resources of a large software house. On the other hand, we are all committed to making Scrivener as good as it can be - L&L started as just me, and the handful of other team members we have now all started as enthusiastic Scrivener users.

I strongly disagree that the Windows version is already “obsolete”. The Windows guys have not ported Scrivener 1.0 for Mac - they have ported Scrivener 2.0 but without all of the features as yet. This enables them to continue building on it and catch up with Scrivener for Mac. It will catch up, but when Scrivener for Windows started development, Scrivener 2.0 for Mac was still a moving target - I was a one-man development team working and inventing as I went.

Regarding lack-of-style support, have you tried Scrivener’s scriptwriting mode (Format > Scriptwriting)? That does exactly what you want in terms of having dialogue follow character name and suchlike, with return and tab moving between the elements.

Oops, yes!

All the best,

Sales department? I thought that was Keith giving people beer, then not giving them the key to the bathroom until they buy a copy of Scrivener?

Give people beer? Are you insane? When I could drink it myself?

Give them the weird beers that relatives give you because they look “interesting”.

Sorry for the lack of hostility, I was distracted when this thread was in it’s prime. Better late than never, though, so here goes…

You… you… you are a mean person. And if you were here in this room with me, why I’d… I’d… give you a stern talking-to. You can take that to the bank and cash it, I’m not afraid to say! Did I mention how unattractive I find you? Not that you are unattractive, but I personally think you are not my type. Take that! Had enough? I hope so, all this hostility has me knackered.

And I bet you’re…you’re a…son of a quokka! Yes you are, you son of a quokka! SOQ.

Fortunately the in-laws have good taste in beer. The caretaker (we live across the way from a funeral home) used to leave us beer, too. Can’t argue with beer that’s free!

Bravo, Keith! Very well said indeed.