Naive iCloud Question

I’m not a programmer and I’m sure this has been considered - but my curiosity has been nagging at me.

If windows saves scrivener files as a directory, why not save macOS scrivener files as a directory as well instead of a doc bundle, would that not avoid the iCloud syncing problem that the bundle causes?

On a macOS machine the format is called a “package” (not a “bundle”). In Finder they “look” and are presented to the user as a single file, but that an illusion. One can use Finder to see the package contents as folders and files. A package is a suggestion to the user to NOT meddle with it.

Apple’s iCloud very likely sees a package as the folders and files that it is and it is very unlikely that packages are a cause of its unreliability. Only Apple might know and they appear not to be keen on improving it.

I use Dropbox with Scrivener and it just works and i can focus energy on my writing not trying to bend iCloud to my will.

The project format is identical on both platforms. It is just displayed differently on Mac OS.

Since iCloud is an Apple product, and “packages” are an Apple-created mechanism, it’s really up to Apple to figure out how to manage them correctly. (As, for instance, Dropbox seems able to do.)

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Storage in cloud services is the same for Mac packages (not bundles) and Windows folders, and the packages do not cause iCloud sync problems. The package format prevents many of the errors Windows users frequently commit:

  • moving the .scrivx XML (Binder) file somewhere outside the project
  • saving Compiled documents inside the project
  • saving zip files inside the project
  • messing with project innards you shouldn’t mess with
  • generally forgetting the project is a folder, not a file

et cetera. It would be far better for everyone if Windows had a similar package format.


So - It seems I’m hearing contradictory things. @kewms seems to imply that the package format IS the problem and it’s up to apple to fix it while the other posters seem to be saying the package format and a normal directory structure are identical - and so the package format is NOT the problem. This begs the question - if the package ‘format’ is just a directory with a system flag that makes it show up as a single file but in all other ways is identical to normal directory hierarchies - what exactly makes a scrivener package different from the packaged files of any other app and so incompatible with icloud?

@rms - i do use dropbox so i can use scrivener, it is the only thing i use dropbox for. this is acceptable, but not ideal. i don’t particularly like dropbox. However, as I said - I am asking mostly for my own curiosity to get an understanding of the problem. These things interest me and I like Scrivener enough to want to poke my nose in.

That said - apologies for resurrecting this question after so long a delay.

There is no way i am able to dig into why Dropbox syncing better than others. i am aware they have a very rich API that developers can more easily exploit than with other providers to make reliable syncing. synching is complicated. hurts my brain if i were asked to start from scratch and make a sync engine.

I know people say they dislike Dropbox. i do not share that as i have no real data or evidence to cause me to dislike it. Actually, I am impressed and wish I had thought of that. My experience is that it works. And i can focus on writing on three devices and not take energy to think more about it or find reasons to dislike.

Remember on every side of a benefit is a cost. i try to maximise benefits and minimise costs.

Finally, I don’t think Scrivener does anything different or special with their “packages” to make syncing more difficult. But … I’m not an expert.

What specific “iCloud problem” are you talking about?

There are two. One is the general question of whether iCloud can be used to share projects between PCs or Macs. It can, except that iCloud is not always good about synchronizing the components of a project in a timely manner, or about telling the user what is going on. The reliability and user interface of iCloud are issues for Apple to fix.

The other is the question of whether iCloud can be used to share projects with iOS Scrivener. That has to do with the API that Dropbox provides (and iCloud doesn’t) to allow manipulation of individual files in the Scrivener project package. More recent versions of iCloud do start to address this problem, but incorporating those changes into iOS Scrivener would require a significant revision of the application. So it won’t happen soon.

Neither of these has anything to do with the “package” designation specifically, but with the fact that a Scrivener project is a complex collection of potentially hundreds of files.