Saving binder snapshots

There are a couple of reasons why I want to keep binder snapshots.

  1. Because the Scrivener binder can’t be locked (and I can see why it should not be), I sometimes inadvertently drag a binder item to a new position in the binder. If I don’t notice this for a while, I might forget where the binder item was before. This is especially more likely if I’ve recently rearranged the binder a lot.

  2. I like to keep a history of my changes to the structure of a work in progress.

Here’s how I keep binder snapshots:
Create a folder call called binder_snaphots in my project folder (not the Scrivener project folder)
In Scrivener, select all binder items in the Draft folder
From the menu, select Export->OPML.
Include a timestamp in the file name, e. g., PARKST_binder_20161113_1432
Save to the binder snapshots folder

This creates a file with extension .mm, which can be opened with the open source application FreePlane.

Here’s an example of the output:

The only really solid way to take a snapshot of the binder is to take a snapshot of everything, because the binder is merely a way of expressing the data. If you take a snapshot of the disposition of the data at one point but without the data, then unless the data is identical at a later point, there will be no way to reconcile the old binder with what the new data requires. Files that you deleted will be requested by the older snapshot, files moved to folders that now no longer exist, new files you’ve created that are not addressed in the old binder, that sort of stuff.

We thought a good deal about an approach like this, but quickly became mired in how clumsy it would be in practical usage and conceptual design—the result of these considerations was Collections, which does serve a similar purpose for what most want such a thing for—the ability to experiment with the order of things without messing up the original, and to potentially take that new order back into the binder.

It doesn’t sound like Collections will address what you are referring to, but to that end, speaking of a snapshot that captures everything in its current state, you’ve already got precisely that: use the File/Back Up/Back Up To… menu command. Every word, paragraph, picture, note and scrap will be just as you left it if you need to come back to it in the future. Just keep a folder somewhere handy for these, and fire off a new backup whenever you feel the overall state of the project has progressed enough that you wouldn’t want to lose what you’ve done.

OPML and other methods of extracting purely the outline information (you can use the compiler for that as well, take note of our “enumerated outline” preset for a practical example).