Scriv on iPad, Redux?

I just saw a graphic today. There are now more tablets and smart phones than PCs today. I know the past stance has been no Scriv on iPad; but if the market is heading that way…is there a possibility to reconsider?

FWIW, I published my novel Scintilla a couple weeks ago. I didn’t start the writing on Scriv (I used Textmate), but am working on other books in the series that are all Scriv.

There are more ballpoint pens on “the market” than mobiles, tablets and computers combined. :slight_smile:

Rocks are free, you fools, and petroglyphs last for centuries. :stuck_out_tongue:

Wow, that’s a crude and poor analogy. I appreciate you were trying to be dismissive, but there is a more professional way to respond. (smiley face aside) There’s no way to distribute Scrivener on a ballpoint pen.

My point is an apparent trend that the traditional desktop computer is on the decline against other similar options. That would suggest, at some time, that either the desktop would cease to be a profitable platform to distribute Scrivener on, or that Apple will eventually merge the OS used on the desktop with the OS on its mobile offerings.

In either case, Scrivener would need to migrate to remain a viable product. While that may not be the plan in, say, the next year, some thought may be valuably put into considering what in Scrivener’s architecture would have to change in anticipation of that shift.

You can see the beginning of that migration with Lion, on which Scrivener runs just fine…

The applications that traditionally use desktop machines aren’t going to go away. Editing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases are all core tasks for pretty much any business, and all of those tasks require capabilities that resemble desktops and laptops, not tablets or phones.


Exactly. A full version of Scrivener could never run on a tablet without the tablet developing all of the functionality of a laptop or desktop. And iOS with all the capabilities of a laptop or desktop is… Mac OS X. I think some users may not realise that tablets are not full computers, but are in many ways more like large smart phones (they’re a a hybrid, really, I suppose). Their screens may look invitingly similar to those of netbooks, but they are not capable of running half of the tasks a netbook can run, and nor are they intended to.

And this is why Ioa’s analogy is spot-on - a ball-point pen cannot do what a mobile phone or computer can do, but that is not its purpose and no one would expect it to. There are more ball-point pens around because they are generally useful, and easy to carry around. When you say that there are now more smart phones and tablets than laptops and desktops, the figure is misleading because it conflates smart phones - which you would expect to be about as popular as ball-point pens these days - with tablets. There are certainly not more tablets alone than laptops and desktops. These statistics are telling, too - tablets are included with the smart phone figures, because they are more like smart phones than full computers.

I certainly understand some users wanting a stripped-down version of Scrivener for taking notes on their iPads while out and about, so that they can sync back with the full version of Scrivener when they return to their main writing machines, even though I have no interest in the iPad as a writing machine myself (I can’t see why anyone would choose to take an iPad with them instead of a MacBook Air, for instance, which is the choice I have). And thus, as it says on our “About” page, we are certainly open to developing an iPad version should we find the right iOS developer to come on board, on the right terms, to work with us and develop it.

But that’s a whole different kettle of fish to what you are talking about - you seem to be talking about “porting” Scrivener so that it remains “viable”, as though you expect laptops and desktops to die a death and be completely replaced. I expect that tablets will indeed become more popular and that eventually, yes, there may well be more tablets than laptops and desktops - because most casual computer users just write a few emails, update social websites and suchlike and so don’t need the bulk that comes with a full keyboard. Like many professionals, however, serious writers - even those who use a tablet for occasional note-taking - are always going to need a machine with a full keyboard (and don’t tell me that carrying a separate keyboard along with the iPad is more portable than just taking an MBA), and if they want to bring in research - hundreds of PDF documents, images and suchlike - they will need a larger screen and more power too. And that is where Scrivener fits into the process. If desktops and laptops completely disappeared, then Scrivener would become unviable - it would be a sad day but it’s just not the sort of program that would run in its full glory on a tablet. It is designed to take advantage of a full computer; I’d have no interest in dropping the features I wrote it for in the first place just to squeeze some more money out of it. Fortunately, I don’t think that will ever happen, as it would be a massive step backwards. There will always be users who need the full power of a desktop or laptop computer (truck-drivers, to paraphrase Mr Jobs), writers among them, and that’s why I think all those iPadophones heralding the demise of the desktop and laptop may be premature. (MacBook Air sales have apparently been phenomenal, and the iPad and iPhone have actually increased the number of Mac users rather than reduced it.)

As I say, a stripped-down version is on the cards if we can find the right person, though.

All the best,

Meanwhile, several strong writing apps on the iPad provide good tools for research, drafting, and exporting to a laptop or desktop. Besides SimpleNote, PlainText, and EverNote, I’d recommend Index Card, Notebooks, and the new Writers App. The last one lacks strong export tools (has e-mail only), but it lets you set up notes on plot, characters, places, and chapter elements. An iOS version of Scrivener may not offer much more, given the limitations of iOS.

There is a way to use Scrivener with an iPad – I use Notebooks and edit the Scrivener backup saved on Dropbox (you could use any iPad text editor, but Notebooks is especially nice because it syncs well). Then when I open the doc file on Scrivener, it tells me the files that have changed and offers to change them in the doc. Unfortunately, there seems to be no rtf API for iOS, and there is currently no way I can discover to edit and save a rtf file on the iPad. I’m hoping iOS 5 will change this, but so far I haven’t heard anything. It would be virtually impossible to implement a usable version of Scrivener on the iPad without rtf – my system only allows straight text editing of backed-up docs, so there’s no way to specify colors, italics, etc.

Are you currently “looking” ?

Last I heard (from David in March) was that an iPad version was being worked on, but sidelined until scheduling and/or rtf support made it more viable.

If you are looking to move forwards with this, then I’d still be interesting in discussing your criteria for “right person”.


Initially Ioa was going to be working on an iPad version, teaching himself Cocoa as he went (he’s has various other programming skills). But the rest of his L&L responsibilities are full-time enough - we had initially planned this before 2.0 came out and we announced the Windows version, both of which have expanded our user-base significantly - and he is less enthusiastic than he once was about writing on the iPad, so we’re now looking at getting someone else to do it.

The “right person” would be someone willing to work on a profit-share basis (rather than salary), enthusiastic about Scrivener with a sound knowledge of the ins-and-outs of the program, and able to show some talent for coding for the iPad (because it would be a tough challenge); it would also be someone in it for the long-haul. It’s difficult, because I have no idea how much profit there would be in an iPad version, but we’d want the lion share. :slight_smile: While iPadophiles from time to time like to tell us that an iPad version would make us rich, from what I hear from iPad developers, you only make big bucks if you’re constantly in the top ten; the profit margin on iOS is much smaller than on OS X and Windows so you have to sell in volume, and we’re talking about a fairly niche product…

All the best,

Well Keith, I’d be very interested in discussing this further. I do believe an iOS version of Scrivener has a lot of potential and I will shortly be focusing all my time back on iOS development. I understand fully the need for profit sharing, and given there are now other iOS + Desktop writing combinations out there I also feel a presence in the tablet space would assist desktop sales (to some impossible to measure degree). This is of course if the mobile version is appropriate for the platform. As you’ve said, the iPad isn’t a laptop so replicating 100% of the desktop software isn’t the way to go, but I as a platform I think the form-factor and UX can contribute a great deal to writers / content compilers and as of yet I don’t think anyone’s really leveraging the iPad correctly.

As you may have gathered, I’ve already given this quite some thought.


Hi Jenny,

Please drop me a line at kb-tech-support AT literatureandlatte DOT com with your thoughts, and also a little about your previous iOS experience, and we can discuss it from there.


All the best,

Would this be the Holy Grail of iPad app expansion (if it were ever produced)? … -appblast/

Can I just add something, as a non-techy who just wants to write?

I have many apps on my iPad2 which are mobile versions of desktop software. They don’t offer full functionality, and I wouldn’t expect them to. But what they do offer is the ability to synch easily with the desktop app. I said I wasn’t techy, so here’s what I would expect from a Scrivener for iPad (and to be honest, it is needed with the growth of the tablet industry, Scrivener itself, and the quantity of other apps that do what I am about to write.)

I want to be able to open a Scrivener app, and write. Maybe view my character profiles, save a picture into it if I’m on the go and see something useful. Then I want to be able to synch that to iCloud so I can edit fully on the desktop. That’s it. Too many people want it all singing all dancing and practically doing the writing for them. I just want to be able to access the file on both devices. Am I making any sense? iPad is a mobile device, which has far exceeded it’s original promises, but it is still mobile… I’m happy to turn on the desktop to write but just want some things to be done on the iPad.

If Notebooks for iPad can be used in conjunction with this, and there is plenty of chat about it on the internet, then the market is there.

The rumour on the iPad forums is that iPad 3 is going to be smaller, lighter, and cheaper… this industry is going to balloon, and I would love to see Scrivener take a piece of that action because they are a hardworking, customer oriented company, like Apple itself.

I will second that, but ask that you do it for Android. At the risk of starting an Apple v the world string, Andriod tablets are no longer the other tablet.

I currently compile into a .doc and write in documents to go which syncs through Sugarsync. Then I copy the new text into the scrivener project. The only problem is occasionally the compiled doc won’t open in docs to go.

Rumor is that for the past few years, Steve Jobs had a secret project underway, to run
both iOS and Android on the same tablet.

So watch for the new version of Boot Camp any day. :laughing:

I have recently started using Scrivener and absolutely love it. Once I started using it, one of the first things I did was to search the App Store for “scrivener”, hoping that there would be an easy way to open my projects on my iPad.

I don’t expect to do the majority of my writing on the iPad, but since I also use Scrivener for preparing the courses I teach, it would be really handy to have a non-fiddly way of moving data back and forth between the devices. At the moment, I am using PlainText and having Scrivener sync with an external folder, but I would love to be able to view PDFs and other media as well.

Sure, there are more ballpoint pens than iPads and all that, but I for one would be delighted to pay for an app that would provide a simple way of viewing and editing projects on my iPad. It would never replace writing on my computer, but it sure would be useful to me.

Then maybe you can get around to pen-syncing in a later version?

Think in terms of Evernote. It is cross platform across PC, Mac, IPad, Android and any Web browser. The functionality is very consistent across all. I use it for just about all text editing for work and as a repository for all work and personal documents as it sync’s across all via the cloud no matter where I am, I can access any documents that I have put into it. I can add pdf files to notes as well as photos. I can scribble notes onto a document if I want. And it also has the best text formatting of any text editing app that I have found for my Android.

This is where I do my writing if I’m not at my Mac. At the end of a writing session in Scrivener, I just copy the Manuscript level into Evernote and I’ve got a backup. If I’m away from my Mac I can open up Ever note and write. And when I get home I open Ever note and Scrivener and again copy and paste across.

Now I’m not suggesting a full functioning version for tablets, but just a basic client that integrates fully via the cloud that still has the basic Scrivener structure like Characters, Places and notes etc.

I know that Scrivener syncs with Simple note and I have tried this but it is a bit messy. For NanNoWriMo all I want is to be able to see where I’m up to in Ever note and start a new scene in a new note that I can simply copy and paste back into Scrivener when I get back to my Mac. A cut down Scrivener GUI would be fantastic.

I didn’t buy my iPad as a writing tool, but I’ve since found it incredibly useful and probably get as much use out of it in this respect as I would a regular laptop.

I currently use Scrivener on my desktop Mac in conjunction with Simplenote on the iPad. It works well, though Simplenote’s synchronization seems eccentric sometimes and multiple documents will be ordered in an odd way when they appear in Simplenote (I have yet to fathom how they’re sorted).

My main problem with Simplenote is the design of the virtual keyboard as I prefer those that allow you to navigate with arrow keys rather than use the magnifying utility. The best keyboard I’ve come across so far belongs to an app called ‘iA Writer’ that has arrow keys and also allows you to jump from word to word. It also has brackets, quotation marks and an apostrophe key up front on the main keyboard so you don’t have to break your rhythm to delve around looking for them. It’s a chunky keyboard that doesn’t leave too much space for text (around six lines in landscape view) but I personally don’t need to see much at any one time.

A drawback of iA Writer is the lack of choice of formatting options; you just get the one font.

What I’d really enjoy is a Scrivener lite for my iPad that allowed me to work on text documents using a fully featured keyboard (as in iA Writer) that offered me a few style choices regarding font (like ‘My Writing Spot’ for example) and allowed a more seamless synchronization with my desktop Mac. The ability to synchronize between Scratchpads on the iPad and desktop Mac would also be useful for general note-taking. Beyond that I’d leave all the other stuff, the corkboarding, outlining etc to the main computer.

I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Have you tried WriteRoom for iPad? Its keyboard does what you are looking for (I think–parentheses on main keyboard, not brackets, and it doesn’t allow you to jump from word to word as far as I know). It syncs via Dropbox, which may add an extra step (I’m not sure how the Simplenote sync works). You can also choose from a large variety of fonts.

As for the chunky keyboard: are you aware of the new keyboard split and/or move you can do in iOS 5? (Just hold down the keyboard icon in the lower right corner and a popup menu comes up to undock and split.) Pretty nifty.