OPML export: the others do it, why Scrivener doesn't?

I have read this topic in other Scrivener forums… I have read the user wishes and, overall, the resistence answer from Scrivener developers about OPML.
My idea now is that I really can’t understand where is the real problem, it seems me like a “give another way-around and come back later” subject… :wink:
I simply need to export my outline structure for different purposes (mind-mapping, export to PowerPoint/Keynote, outline documentation, 'cause I like it, etc.). OPML is a file format that can do maintain structures of item texts, and is recognized (better or less) by a number of apps well known by Scrivener user.
I really can’t understand why I can’t do the same in Scrivener… It’s quite no sense what I do now:

  1. to (comfortably) outline in Scrivener, :smiley:
  2. to compile the docs titles to a flat RTF text,
  3. to import the compiled file in Circus Ponies Notebook or OmniOutliner and
  4. to rebuild the hierarchy there copying it from the Scrivener window (that’s really what I do: see right, see left, like in a tennis match) :astonished:
  5. to save the result to OPML :frowning:

    I feel a very smart-tricky-stupid guy when I do all that. Has any one maybe found a better way to get an OPML file out from Scrivener?

OK: Scrivener isn’t an outlining dedicated app, I know. But, indeed, Scrivener has better outlining utilities then many other outlining apps: I find easy and natural outline in Scrivener, I’m really so happy with outlining features in Scrivener, I don’t need OmniOutliner & co. If I can cook at home a sublime italian spaghetti, why have I to go down to the restaurant to eat it?

OK: OPML isn’t uniformly implemented, I know. But, neither the ubiquitous MSWord file format is uniformly implemented! I think it can be very interesting for Scrivener to decide and choose its own way of implementing OPML (with limitations, OK, but it’s something better then nothing) and to cope with it. Is the problem note feature implementing… So, in the Scrivener user manual we’ll see: “OPML export has the following limitation: 1)…; 2)…, etc.” That’s All, Folks!

I think that OPML export in Scrivener can be useful starting from simply getting a “structured document titles only” file.

[Sorry for my poor english]

I think you’re being a little hard on the developer, Agostino (although maybe you’re overstating your case for ironic purposes…).

He’s explained that OPML export, though desirable, is a tough technical nut to crack and why it is so, for example here: [url]https://forum.literatureandlatte.com/t/export-outlines-just-as-opml/7334/1]. I don’t think that can be defined as “resistance”.



As Hugh said, I’m not resistant to OPML export at all, but as I’ve explained elsewhere, it’s not as straightforward as you assume. Hugh has linked to my replies elsewhere, which should explain things.

Exporting just titles only would certainly work - it’s synopses and suchlike that are the problem - but if that were implemented, while it might be fine for you, there would be lots of cries of outrage from elsewhere about no synopses, etc.

It is, however, still on the list for the future.


Good to know. While not crucial to my work, it sure would be helpful.

Yes. I compiled my thesis into a text document with just my outline (all the titles) and then imported that into NovaMind 5. It worked perfectly, all branches and sub-branches perfectly formatted. I can now review my thesis’s structure as a mind map on my Mac (using NovaMind) and on my iPhone (using iThoughts).

Thanks nom for the tip.
I’ve tried to do that with Novamind, but after compliling to txt (Novamind doesn’t seem to import rtf), I can’t get no more then a flat list of topics, without any structure, all at the same root level. What’s wrong?

I hope Keith doesn’t feel uneasy for my commentary about OPML, I’m a really enthusiast user of Scrivener, and I think it’s the best thing I have in may MAC after the power ON button!

Hi Agostino,

Not at all! As I say, OPML is still on the list and I really hope to find a way of implementing it. It’s just more difficult than it should be simply because the conventions that have arisen for the “notes” field (which isn’t a part of the OPML specs, because the OPML specs are very bare) aren’t “good” XML, and Apple’s XML classes enforce “good” XML and thus strip all tabs and newlines from the “_notes” field in OPML. It’s basically a technical challenge - I need to use lower-level classes in order to implement OPML export so that’s a learning curve for me, and so would take some time, and there have always been many more things that need implementing more immediately.

But eventually, I hope OPML export will be in there. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the kind words!

All the best,

Did I say “eventually”? This morning I had a forehead-slapping moment in which I realised a way of working around NSXML’s attribute limitations - and I have therefore just implemented OPML export for 2.1.

All the best,

Keith: Fantastic news! Thanks an opml-zillion.

Congrats! I know how much of a relief it is to find an easier solution to something I’ve dreaded tackling.

Edit: P.S. Other developers would save such a feature for a paid upgrade, instead of including it in a free update. Thanks for your generosity.

that’s astonishing! It’s quite like the wonderful story of Stravinsky dreaming of its Octet!
Great new. I’m frenzy with the next update.
Many thanks!

Wow! Fantastic! :smiley:

While waiting for Keith’s “magical” (Steve Jobs doesn’t own copyright of that term*) Scrivener 2.1, the way to import an outline into Novamind is to compile the outline of your Scrivener project. You can achieve this by only selecting the title of each document to be included in the output, then compiling to to a txt file

This results in a text file with with each sub-level indented (I also have them numbered for ease of reference). On import, Novamind recognises the indents as levels and maps them accordingly. The only problem seems to be it takes the title of the first chapter (or first document) as the title of the map (corrected manually in the attached screenshot).

I hope this helps.


UPDATE: Out of curiosity, I just tried the same process (using the same text file) with iThoughts on my iPhone. It did a better job of conversion than did NovaMind on my Mac; it correctly named the root node and the first child node. It even exported the resulting map into a NovaMind 5 file on DropBox. At times like this I wish I had an iPad, then I might not even use NM.

Anyway, the success of iThoughts is yet another example of the wonderful skills of indie developers! :smiley:

It’s OK Keith, I won’t ask you to code native sync functionality for iThoughts…

I just want to express my appreciation too for the implementation of OPML export. It is extremely important to support open data exchange so all the effort that is put into entering and formatting isn’t lost by data lock-in. Even though Scrivener is amazing we want it kept focussed and not try to do everything. I really like being able to use Scrivener as my data hub for writing and be able to use the information in different formats with other programs too.

Now I will just try and wait patiently for all that v2.1 goodness.

I just tried to export my outline to OPML from Scrivener, yet realized that it can only IMPORT OPML (which is great!). I need to export a complicated outline to a mind map to “work things out.” I read this thread and then I discovered a workaround until 2.1:

  1. Highlight the main folder and Export…Files from Scrivener as RTF files (I checked options for export metadata and notes)

  2. Import the resulting folder into FreeMind or Sciplore MindMapping (both free)

  3. Save as a MindMap file (.mm)

And there you are. Still figuring out what is lost in that, but at least i have my titles.

Another step might be to import into another mindmapping program if you don’t like Sciplore, though the developers are working on a new version (Docear); it’s major contribution seems to allow you to annotate your PDFs and then put those highlights/citations into your mind map. Pretty awesome. Until that is ready, I am comfortable with MindNode Pro because it reads mm files and it exports to OPML, and sync with iPad version.