Revision on the iPad

Hi. I will get my first iPad soon and would like to revise the first draft of my novel on it. Now I wonder, what is the best software for this task (until scrivener for iOS, please hurry up…).
There´s two basic strategies I think of, but maybe there´s a better Idea, which I didn´t think of, so I´m interested on how you do it.
My first idea is compiling the first draft into a pdf an use something like goodreader to add comments, wipe out stuff etc. What I like about this idea is that it hinders me from doing corrections immediatly. I hope this keeps me from thinking about a solution and will make me more strict with myself (no: “ok, this is written badly, but I will never find a better way to express this, so just keep it”). I could reimport the annotated pdfs in Scrivener and in a second step edit the text, using split screen.
But on the other hand, not being able to do correction is just what could be annoying. Despite the above mentioned argument, if there is just a small thing to edit, how complicated to mark it in the pdf and go over it again in scrivener. So the other way would be copying the draft into any writing tool, edit it and maybe add notes in brackets, and copy it back.

Or maybe, maybe is there a glorious mega-app that I don´t know about, which let´s you combine both things and syncs with scrivener and brews coffee? Don´t say scrivener for iOS…

What are your usage-scenarios?

I myself prefer the first option you mentioned. I either export to the Kindle or use a PDF on the iPad and something like iAnnotate to mark it up, much for the same reasons you put forth—I like proofreading to be something divorced from editing, and find the presentational output to help in illuminating blind spots; errors that slip the mind when staring at the text in an editor. If you want something that lets you make corrections easily however, the best thing to do is set yourself up with a Dropbox account and use the folder syncing feature (see chapter 13 in the user manual). This will export each piece of your draft as an individual file (.txt is best for the iPad, it gives you the broadest range of choices for editing programs) and any changes you make to them will be automatically synced back into the project when you go back to the Mac. You could even combine the two, primarily proofing with the static text, and if you note some silly typo that would be easier to just fix, pop over to your text editor, fix it, and then come back to the PDF.

Since Scrivener doesn’t track any kind of changes back from compiled documents, you should avoid to compile your work as PDF or RTF unless you want to sync them back manually. Though it’s fine if you just want to get an overview of the text or a general feel for your book.

Folder syncing is probably the easiest method to stay in Scrivener as long as possible. Personally I’m still trying to find a workflow that makes me perfectly happy, but at the moment I’m fine with exporting RTFs to my sync folder and edit them in Storyist for iPad. It isn’t really a replacement for Scrivener, but since it supports RTF and has a project based approach to novel/screenplay writing, it is rather powerful compared to TXT files.

At the moment I’m playing around with another workflow using DevonThink To Go (scrivener -> sync folder -> seperate DTpro database -> DTTG and back) to have my research data on my iPad aswell, but it is still a bit wonky. DTTG’s database sync is way to buggy and crashes often on files that have been saved with version on the Mac. Also the RTF editor feels a bit awkard comapred to most text editors.

I guess I will try both ideas and find out what fits me best. Can I reimport a changed PDF into scrivener to view it in split screen, making changes in the editor, viewing it in the other?
Is there any difference between syncing with Dropbox or syncing with simplenote (I have the latter already on the iPhone)? I rembember from the manual, that it is recommended not to sync your whole draft, but only a few documents. Is that so in praxis?

thanks for your replies

Sure, a compiled PDF is no different than any other PDF on a computer that you can drag into the Binder.

In what way are you asking? There are numerous differences, so it’s hard say without better knowing what you are looking for.

In that particular aspect, yes there is a big procedural difference in how syncing is done at the technical end. For you, it’s pretty much the same; you hit a button and it syncs. With Simplenote however, Scrivener must open a connection, form a query across the Internet, waiting for a response, and if that is successful it initiates an upload or download of data based upon your specific request for that note, wait for confirmation of request of the Internet, close the connection, and then proceed to the next file.

With Dropbox, it checks your computer’s hard disk. If there is a modification date discrepency between the files and decides to import/export based on that.

Consequently you can sync several hundred files “on Dropbox” in a few seconds because you aren’t technically syncing “to Dropbox”. You are just updating files on your hard disk which just so happen to be in a spot Dropbox pays attention to. Now, the Dropbox upload/download itself will probably take longer but that is not Scrivener’s concern.

Simplenote, on the other hand, must have each note queried off the Internet, moving information back and forth across the planet, for each note when you load the panel. So if you choose to sync your entire draft, and your draft has 860 individual outline items, that’s a lot of background research to do before the note panel even can open. Now, not everyone has a draft outline that big, but many people do, so we say: it’s best to not sync your entire draft. Not because everyone should just never consider even trying, but because if we don’t say that we’ll have someone with a 5,452 item binder getting angry because Simplenote is bogged down beyond all usefulness and they’ve been locked out of their account for exceeding the daily usage quota. :slight_smile:

Hence, a big practical difference between the two is scope. Dropbox easily works with tens of thousands of files (because most of them aren’t changing) and the technology for synchronisation is “outsourced” from Scrivener to a robust system. With Simplenote, a more hands on approach is required and so it works better with smaller groups of notes.

Thank you for that detailed answer. I see that it might be useful to switch to dropbox, also because it gives more choice of Apps to use with it. I will try using pdf to annotate and have the draft ready in dropbox in case of immediate editing.
I heard many good things about goodreader. Is there something iAnnotate can do better?
And can someone recommend a good notebook app which lets you either write with keyboard or draw and that has a nice design?

I want to start working with the iPad. But there´s delivery delay, I´m waiting four weeks already…

note to self: Ioa never does “no detail” replies.

That’s another practical advantage, the plentiful array of available applications to choose from, and there are some really good ones in my opinion. Simplenote is all right, but it’s pretty plain-jane when it comes to editing.

I can’t really speak for Goodreader. I used iAnnotate for proofing, and I like it. It’s a pretty powerful application, lots of buttons and such, but I don’t mind that.

My favourite in this category is Note Taker HD for iPad. In fact, you can import PDF files into that and annotate them. I’ve never tried it myself, but it might be worth a shot if it looks good for the other stuff, to see if it will handle PDF as well.


I downloaded Goodreader and iaWriter and plaintext now. Goodreader seems pretty cool for annotation and I noticed that you can even open and edit txt files. So ist is possible to do the PDF/txt scenario within one App. But with the very cool customized keyboard iaWriter is much better. I have a problem there, though: my draft folder, which I synchronized using dropbox now, is totaly out of order. There is chaos and iaWriter obviously has no searchfunction. The Order of documents is fine in Goodreader and Plaintext, so it is a problem that need not be. Does anybody know a solution?

Check in your sync settings, there is an option to prefix the binder order as a numeral in the filenames that Scrivener produces, which will keep your draft in order.

The Numbers are there. iaWriter just doesn’t seem to display the Files in numerical order. There are people using this App here, aren’t there?

Have you tried Daedalus Touch? It seems to me to have the best balance of simplicity and function, although discovering the function is not always blindingly obvious. You can also ask it to number files imported from Dropbox, or leave them as they are.

I contacted their support. They are working on improvement. Right now there is no solution. The Files are in order of their last opening.
I will have to look for another app until the update. But I really like about iaWriter is the customized keyboard with ä,ö, ü, ß, which I really need as a german. Does Daedalus have those?

Daedalus has a very nice customisable keyboard. In my opinion it’s one of the best out there. I also like its file browser as it shows you a thumbnail of the document instead of just a big list, and it is easy to flip between documents while viewing (no jumping out to a list and then back—just swipe left/right—so it works great with Scrivener’s small files ethic). As bashosfrog said, it’s a little quirky; not a “normal” text editor, but I’d say, subjectively, those quirks are for the best.

Daedalus has a great keyboard: 10 custom keys that can be whatever you want. What’s more, each key can hold several (it seems unlimited–I think I have 8 or 10) options, so you can easily and quickly change the extended keyboard for whatever purpose you need… So it’s quite flexible, far beyond any other I’ve seen. If the keyboard is high on your list of concerns, I’d recommend giving it a try.

I bought Deadalus now. But I can’t customize the Keyboard like I want. It gives me always the same six options that I can choose for a custom key, but not others (like Umlaut). How do I do it?

Yeah, I understand. They don’t document it.
Tap and hold one of the extra buttons. A contextual menu with other options should appear. Tap ‘Edit’ and then ‘New’ to add new option. To change just choose the one you want to change, and a new ‘window’ opens in which you just type what you want to be there.

At the same time, you should see a new button on the bar with ‘add’ or + sign (I forget; mine are all full). Tap that to add new button.

One thing that confused me for a while is:
There are two sets of 5 buttons, one on left and one on right side. Each set (left or right) will have the same options in its menu. I tried to set each key with its own group, but that doesn’t work.

Does this get you there?

Good luck.

I’m happy to help because I found it a bit trying to figure out myself…

Thank you for your help. I can follow your instructions up to the point where I can change the key. But than I dont get a window to type in but only a short set of symbols to choose from. Strange.
Should Deadalus have navigation buttons like other editors? Because i dont have those either and really liked them in iaWriter.

Did you tap on “Edit” ?
To change what’s assigned to any given button, tap on ‘Edit’ then tap on the letter, symbol whatever you want to change. This will take you to the window in which you can enter the new one.

For navigation, tap in margin to move cursor. A matter of taste, but I like the tapping on-screen better not only because it gives more space for characters in the extended keyboard.

In my german version it is called “bearbeiten”, but this means “edit”. Then there is either a symbol to choose or a +button. Pressing + first makes me choose “beginning” or “end” (because of brackets etc). Logically now your mentioned window should appear, but instead the same six symbols are presented again, with no chance to choose anything else. I contacted their support, let’s see.