Question about external reference links (and more)


I’m a doctoral student who has just discovered the existence of Scrivener, and am quite excited about the possibilities of the software for use with my overwhelming dissertation :slight_smile: I’ve got a few questions about getting it all set up to work for me though, since I’ve got some elements of my workflow already established that I either need or want to keep. I’ve just downloaded the trial version of Scrivener at the moment, but would definitely purchase the program if this all goes as I hope!

One of my biggest issues is that I have health problems that mean I can’t spend long periods of time sitting at my computer (yes, great for a grad student, lol). As a result I often switch between my desktop and laptop computer as I need to lay down on my couch, move around, etc. I also use Dragon Naturally Speaking Pro software for dictation when I’m really in writing mode, because that frees me from being static at a keyboard. From what I’ve been able to gather from the forums, it sounds like DNS should maybe semi-work with Scrivener (and that perhaps better integration is planned for future releases?), and that if I’m careful, I should be able keep my Scriv project in my dropbox folder so I can keep it synced to access on both my computers (I’ve had to do this kind of thing in the past, so I’m used to being hyper-concious of ensuring syncs are complete, making frequent backups, etc.).

I’m also a big user of Zotero, which I employ to manage all of my research resources and store and sync pdf files of journal articles, etc. My big outstanding question regards integrating Scrivener with the attachments I have in Zotero. I don’t want to import the files as references into Scrivener, because I need to be able to access them from multiple computers, my android phone, etc., to read, highlight, annotate, etc., and I don’t want to have to be manually updating them in multiple locations every time I make a change. So my thought would be to create a research item in Scrivener, and then just link to the attachment in the zotero folder via an external link in the reference pane of that item. That way I should be able to edit a single copy of the file, let Zotero keep it in sync everywhere for me, and have Scrivener open the most recent version when I click the link (assuming the file name remains the same of course). So I sound OK so far?

What I’m really curious to know is how to set up the link if I’m storing the Scriv folder in dropbox. I see two possibilities, and I’m wondering which would work better (if either would work at all). Option 1) My Zotero library is currently located in the “documents” folder on my computers, meaning the path to a particular attachment is different on my laptop and my desktop (because the usernames of the machines differ). So one possibility would be to set up two external links in the reference pane in Scrivener- one pointing to the attachment on my desktop, and one on my laptop. The file would actually be the same (because Zotero syncs them), but I would open one or the other depending on which of my machines I was working at. Option 2) Move my Zotero library folder on both my computers to a location on the c-drive, or the Public folder that had the same path name on both machines, then use a single external link in the reference pane regardless of which computer I was actually on. I’m not sure if that would work though, or if that spells corruption and confusion for Scrivener…

Re-reading this post, I may have hit all of the potential buttons for “not recommended/not supported” with Scrivener, but it seems like a unique and potentially really useful product, so I’m eager to at least attempt some work-arounds. Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated!

Your plan sounds fine, actually–nowhere near the “don’t do this no no no!” issues. :slight_smile: The only thing that would happen with the external references would be that they just didn’t work because the file path was wrong on that computer; it wouldn’t do anything to the project itself. So either method you outlined ought to work, and you can give them a try and see what works better for you and keeping your things convenient with Zotero.

Keeping your project in Dropbox is fine as well; I recommend reading through the “Scrivener Everywhere” section of the “Cloud Integration and Sharing” chapter in the user manual (Help > Scrivener Manual) as that runs through the basic guidelines for keeping the sync working smoothly and your project all together, but it sounds like you’re pretty familiar with the gist of the thing. The main point is that since a Scrivener project is not a single file but a folder of files, and that these files get changed the moment you open the project, you need to ensure that all the files completely sync before you shut down the one computer or open the project in the second. Also of course make sure you only ever have the project open on one computer at a time.

I can’t comment on how well Dragon Naturally Speaking currently works on Scrivener for Windows except to say that nothing has been done in Scrivener itself yet to make this a good integration. Some users have had much more success than others. This is however definitely something we’ll be working on, as we do want to provide support for DNS and similar tools as possible. I’d say just give it a go during your trial period to see if it’s going to work for you. Also, if you’re just dictating new main text, even if you’re not able to do so well in Scrivener directly, you may be able to find a good work style whereby you can get your dictation down and then simply import that document into your project or even copy and paste it if the placeholder item already exists for it.

We’ve got a bunch of other PhD candidates procrastinating on the forums helping each other out, too–you may’ve already come across that, but definitely check out the Tips and Tricks section as well or even some posts in the Mac section, as a lot of them may still be applicable to the Windows version if you’re looking for how other users are working with Scrivener to do their dissertations, theses, or what have you. You may find some good advice!