phrase search and timeline?

I just downloaded Scrivener for Windows today along with a couple of other writing software programs and I definitely seem to be favoring Scrivener so far.

But, two things I’m not finding in Scrivener that I’m hoping it has:

A horizontal timeline feature - Writer’s Cafe (terrible name) has a pretty well implemented timeline that allows you to position cards along multiple horizontal timelines to see the overall development of your project. I often feel like I get lost in my writing so organizing a project that way makes sense to me.

A Phrase Search function - like many writers, I tend to repeat phrases unconsciously. Then I have to go back and find them. Page4 has a nice feature called Smart Edit that lets you set a phrase word count (the default is 2 to 10) and searches for repetitions of any phrases from 2 to 10 words, then it displays them with the number of times they occur in the document. Very handy for me.

Maybe Scrivener has either of these features and I haven’t found them yet?
Thanks in advance for any info anyone can provide.

I don’t think the timeline feature will be in the initial 1.0 release of Scrivener for Windows, but I might be wrong. At the least you need to be able to assign date/time meta-data to documents (Scene start date/time - Scene end date/time) so that they could be mapped to a linear timeline. Maybe later I hope.

The phrase search feature sounds very useful in editing for readability. They need to make Scrivener like an iPad app with in-app purchases. I would pay $2 more for the timeline feature and the phrase search feature. Probably pay another couple bucks for an in-app add-on to check for passive voice.

Sorry to burst any bubbles, but there probably won’t ever be a timeline in Scrivener. The main problem is that there would be no good way to integrate it with the rest of the application, which is all very interconnected. Having a portion of the program that has nothing to do with the rest of the program would be (a) dilute the focus of the application and (b) probably never equal the power of a dedicated timeline application—which it might as well be since it’s all disconnected from the outline and corkboard anyway. It’s also a pretty specialist feature. I think it would be better to, if anything, create tools that allow a novelists to keep track of chronology if they want, while at the same time allowing journalists to record the date and time of an interview. I think custom meta-data fits in with that ideal; collections fit in with that ideal; so do free-form corkboards. There might be more that could be done with that concept—but all of those concrete things are 2.0 features, and the “might be more” is beyond.

Phrase search is kind of cool, though, and definitely fits in. Probably would be best as a part of text statistics. A slider over the frequency chart that allows lumping instead of just tracking single words. I’m not sure if the iPad model is right for desktop applications though. That’s really a sneaky work-around to the fact that App Store users are notoriously cheap. It makes more sense to develop a cohesive upgrade with a lot of features and then sell it as a paid upgrade.

Thanks for the replies.

Note: take my comments with a bit (a large bit) of salt. I’ve downloaded several programs and logged less than an hour on each of them.

The timeline feature in the other program I mentioned works more like note cards rather than a time recorder. I don’t think it records meta data with a time component (but I could be wrong). It’s more like note cards that you create and then distribute over several (or many) horizontal lines that are color coded and tied to whatever system you want to use: character, storylines, etc. There are vertical dividers that run through the horizontal lines to create scenes. I think it would be even more useful if those vertical dividers could be moved left to right to represent page count so you could visually scan across to see how much page weight you’ve given to this or that scene.

Whatever, I can see why this may not fit with the Scrivener way of doing things but it attracts me as a useful graphical means to see who’s where and when and what’s happening in a non textual manner.

What would be really cool is if at some point in the future Scrivener implemented an API that allowed third-party folks to write plugs-ins and add-ons to do this kind of functionality that probably isn’t right to put in the base product, but would be so much more useful if it were integrated.

Now that Scrivener’s format is completely open, the need for an API is less, I think. Everything is relatively easy to understand XML. Granted this means you would need to keep third-party tools in sync with any changes to the scheme that may occur, but it’s definitely an option.

Yeah, but if you open up an API then we can use plug-ins while we’ve got Scrivener open and are writing amazing things. If you have a third-party tool that understands the XML format, you can’t use that and Scrivener at the same time without risking data loss.