Question on Usability / Reliability of the Beta

Hi Folks,

(If this is posted in the wrong place, apologies,)

I have been using the Beta version for a little while now, but have not yet trusted it with anything important. But since it’s not backward compatible I don’t use it for reiterative editing-- meaning, anything it can’t do in one sitting doesn’t get saved (because I don’t save it) and thus I’m not really giving it a ‘good go’ in a real-life manner.

So here’s my question-- and I realize that the official position is going to be that it’s ‘Beta’ and not production-ready.

But INFORMALLY what’s your opinion / consensus on this? Is it going to “Eat My Report” (I admit, there are times that could be a useful feature…) or do you think it’s relatively stable now for most things? I’d really like to start using it. I’m okay with some warts and wrinkles as long as it is reasonably “guaranteed” (in air-quotes, I know what ‘beta’ means) not to lose my work?

Advice / Opinions would be great!

Thanks, and thanks for all your great efforts!!! :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

JWhitten

I’m just a user, but I’ve written over 100,000 words of my current book using the beta. Haven’t had a serious problem of any kind. Most of the remaining issues seem to be related to compiling or cosmetic. But, obviously, L&L are officially saying “wait for the final version”. So, you’re taking a chance, however slight.

That’s what I was wanting to hear, just to get a general opinion of reliability at this stage. I’ve been checking it out for a few months and it looks pretty good. I have a WIP (doesn’t everybody?) and I’d really like to start editing it with the new (beta 3) version but have been hesitant to ‘trust’ it since it’s beta and non-backward compatible. On the other hand, I know where the ‘back-up now’ button is, so…

thanks!!

JWhitten

After four years, I’m in the middle of writing the second book of my planned five-book hard SF story.
First book is ready for beta readers at 160K words, second book is at 83K words, all in Scrivener 3 Beta.

I’m not worried about Scrivener in the least.
I’ve had problems with MS Word more often than I have with Scrivener 3 Beta.

Just a quick PS to my previous comment: Scrivener stores all your text as simple RTF files, which can be edited by almost any word processor. So, as long as you have backups, you’re most unlikely to lose anything you’ve written. (Although actually sorting all those RTF files back into a book would be neither quick nor easy.)

May I add that Scrivener is using extended RTF format and RTF keywords. Editing the RTF files within your project with an external editor should be done ONLY in critical situations (you should only Open and Copy text, or Open and use Save As), or you might lose Inspector notes, styles, etc. in your project.

Very good point, Tiho. As I hope I made clear, this would only be an absolute last-resort, emergency procedure (which, I’ve never needed to try, and don’t expect to).

Regarding recovering data from a crashed or corrupted Scrivener install:

I don’t think it would be hard (open the scrivx file as reference, and then look up each directory and grab the files out of it, paste into a WP), but for more than a dozen documents, it’d be tedious as heck. Having done it for a small project (to see how hard it would be, because the folder numbering is NOT orderly in the data directory that holds the RTF files), it’s really just tedious.

To recover your project more quickly in case of a Scrivener issue with a project (which has happened to me at least once during this Beta), here are three methods to use ahead of time:

The automatic one: Set up “Sync…” to an external folder. Include all documents (I check every box, except the collections one). This exports two folders: Draft & Notes. Draft contains your manuscript docs, in order (if you chose numbering, which I do); Notes contains everything else, in order (again, if you chose numbering). I see no reason to NOT number, so I tell it to number. Since this is a form of backup, and it can be automated, I suggest automating it (check the boxes: “take snapshots…”, and “check external folder…”). This is easy, and perhaps the best way to have your project backed up so other programs can read it (which can be quite useful).

Completely manual: Compile to RTF (this includes your manuscript, and whatever you choose as front matter and back matter). This will save the book itself as a single RTF file. Almost every modern WP can read this. You may choose a different format, such as DOCX (for MS Word), plain text, or even HTML.

Completely manual: Select the entire binder and “File > Export > Files”. This will export to the same directory as your chosen Sync directory (at least it does on mine), so you’ll want to name a new directory to put this export in. Perhaps a name including a date. I suggest not naming it “Draft” or “Notes” because then your output will overlap your sync. I really suggest naming a new container for each export. Perhaps naming it by project name and a date in some useful order, but it’s up to you what you name these.

I don’t use the 3rd option. So far Scrivener hasn’t lost anything or broken it so badly the project can’t be recovered using Scrivener itself. Also, this option cannot be automated from inside Scrivener. I could probably build a script in AutoHotKey to do this. But since I don’t consider it necessary, I haven’t.

I use the 2nd option on reaching milestones (like “Part 1 completed” or the like). Usually to Word format, not RTF, but everything I need is there. Again, not automated from Scrivener itself. If I want a backup compile, I’d include everything I could in the compile.

I have the 1st option as default, with every box checked (except the “sync only… in collection…”). It takes just a few seconds to sync on open, and just a few seconds to sync on close. Worth it.

rwfranz, thanks for the tips.

On v1.9 I’ve done #2, although additionally configured to include document Synopsis + Notes in the output. I haven’t played with that since I’ve been on the beta.

It never occurred to me to use #1 Sync to External as a recovery mechanism. Definitely something to consider.

Best,
Jim

Stability wise it’s been fine.

However, if you like using bullet points a lot, such as for research, expect it to be a small nightmare here. List issues have been a problem for many months.

If you create a bullet list in a document, it works relatively fine with minor hiccups. Save your document, exit, and re-open Scrivener. Try and hit enter on a bullet list item and hit tab to indent a new item and you’ll find it indents at weird intervals and undoing it will just bork your bullets even more. But create a new list and it’ll work just fine. You literally have to de-bullet and re-bullet every item on existing lists that you might be editing, every time you open the program.

I love Scrivener but this is the only reason I wish I’d stayed with the previous version. Literally the only one. All other bugs I deal with can be tweaked quickly enough.

I myself have found the beta to be entirely stable, when it comes to creating parts of my story and saving/securing my work.

As a failsafe - and as a way to add to my story if I get an idea on my cell phone - I have it auto-set to Sync To Folder upon program close (and detection of changes upon open). It also autosaves - it set that up automatically and I just don’t fiddle with it. So if I am going to be majorly playing with a given paragraph, I copy the paragraph and put it in the Notes sidebar before beginning, because I don’t count on being able to Undo it back. This to me is an acceptable practice.

I have not yet had to reconstruct a single project.

As a personal example and experience, on the day before yesterday, my computer completely and totally hung while installing Windows Cumulative Updates, with Scrivener open. I had to hard reset it. (As in, I had to actually turn off the switch on the power supply.) I opened Scrivener with some trepidation, to find nothing missing, nothing garbled, and no complaints of corruption.

A note: Some people are talking about things like bulleted lists, and I know that Scrivener allows for links to other places and embedded documents, particularly when dealing with research. I am treating it as something like a ‘tabbed notebook’. I have my story, and I have my notes, and I have my “research”/world-building folders, containing nothing fancier than character/place template sheets filled out. Being that I have a particularly odd combination of neurological diversities, I put everything from character appearance to relationship connectors exclusively in the written word.

Have you tried using Snapshots?

:slight_smile:

Mark

I have not! What are they?

OK, none of this is criticism of L&L or the beta program. I just want to make sure that’s understood.

I’ve recently gone back to 1.9.9, only because I like the look and feel a bit better than the beta, and I’m actually tired of upgrading every week or two. I don’t hate the new look and feel, and will certainly upgrade when the final version is available. (I tend to tire of betas after a while…I lived through the initial Windows 10 beta, from almost the earliest I could get into the Insider’s Program, so I’ve been there, done that…)

My time with the Scrivener 3 beta, which I opted out of about a month or so ago, was flawless. That is to say, there were bugs and things that weren’t up to my expectations, but I don’t remember ever losing neither a jot nor a tittle of my work. That’s really the best one can hope for, right?

Good job, guys. Keep it up.

Essentially, they’re a copy of a given binder document, visible in the inspector pane for that function, with which you can compare (by paragraph, … phrase?.. and by individual word). More info can be found in the relevant section of the tutorial, which can be created from the templates window (File->New Project), or from under the Help menu. Very handy feature.