Scrivener and iPad vs. MacBook Pro

Quite recently I had someone visit my house and steal my iMac. I have been prepared to go the MacBook Pro route, but then I considered the iPad as a writing tool. If you have used an iPad with Scrivener and have some thoughts either way, I’d love to hear your opinion, especially regarding using a keyboard-less sytem and OSX Lion compatibility. An iPad seems like a good option, but will it be the best choice?

Well, at the moment there is no Scrivener for the iPad, so without a laptop, what you are proposing is essentially no Scrivener at all. Right now the desktop software has a number synchronisation tools which can be used to basically push portions of your manuscript to Simplenote or a service like Dropbox, and then once you are on the iPad you would use the Simplenote editor, or a plain-text application that can access the Dropbox server to edit the files. This is a linear list of files, text only (no meta-data or notes, etc). It is basically just a way to read and edit bits of your book while on the go, or to post new ideas so that the next time you get back to your computer you can sync them all into the project where they should go. There is also synchronisation with Index Card, which is going to be the closest thing to something like Scrivener. It uses an outliner & corkboard metaphor as well, and lets you edit the title, synopsis, text, and notes for the items you choose to sync to it. It offers minimal organisation power, as the two systems operating in fundamentally different ways, and cannot directly sync between hierarchies. But you can change the order of cards on the iPad and those cards will re-order on the Mac, but only in the collection that you are using to sync.

So that’s where things are right now. Without Scrivener, you’re just using text editors or something like Index Card. We are indeed working on an iOS version of Scrivener, but it’s still in early design and development stages. It won’t due to limitations of the iOS system, be fully featured, but our goal is to make it a cohesive writing environment that can be used with or without the desktop.

I would encourage you, if you can, to visit an Apple store and play with the device. There is a wide variety of opinions on whether one would want to use an iPad and nothing else. There are some that do, but most who use a computer for work use it as an accessory to their computer and specifically Scrivener. In particular get a feel for how stuff works together. iPads are very different from computers in that there is little communication between apps. It may be difficult to do something as simple as firing off an RTF or DOC to your editor.

Thanks so much for your time. This was an awesome response, especially when you consider how badly phrased the question was. You are a goddess. So, to everyone else, if you use an iPad in any capacity at all, and that capacity happens to involve Scrivener, and you synchronize between either an iMac or a Pro, could you let me know what your experience was/is like? I have never been drawn to the iPad in any capacity, and was wondering, Scrivener-wise, if there was any reason to be. Positive or negative, let me know. Let’s assume, for the moment, that I will buy a MacBook Pro (Yikes! The price!.) Should I also add on the iPad for mobility purposes or just not bother? I know it’s a weird question, forgive me.

I use Scrivener in a dropbox-connection with the iPad/iPhone-app WriteRoom, as described in a Scrivener-tutorial ( ).

WriteRoom synchs nicely with dropbox, and using Scriveners “synch with external folder”-option, I can view, edit and create new files that are automatically imported into Scrivener. It works seamlessly.

I’ve recently purchased an external keyboard for the ipad, and find that I now, even at home, prefer to use this writing setup over my MacBook.

I’ve got the new iPad arriving next Friday. I have enough other reasons for getting it, being able to write on it isn’t an absolute must. I can always go back to my MacBook. But given its lightness and the long battery life (10+ hours), I’m hoping it’ll work for rough drafts.

Until Scrivener for the iPad is available, I’m currently planning to use an iOS app called Writing Kit. It’s normally $4.95, which won’t break the bank, but I picked it on sale a few weeks ago. Here’s one reviewer’s description: … fingertips

Markdown, TextExpander, and built-in research tools… that makes it more than a text editor. Perhaps the handiest feature is that starting a line with # or ## creates a first or second level heading in Markdown that can later become chapters and scenes when imported into Scrivener. And there’s an outline view that shows those level headers, letting you jump around from chapter 6 to chapter 13 as easily as you might using Scrivener’s binder. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to allow those headings to be rearranged like in Scrivener’s binder.

There’s another review here: … riting-kit

As well as a Screencasts Online look at an earlier version:

I’ve only dabbled with it on my iPhone with its tiny screen, so I’m not sure how well it’ll work on an iPad, particularly with an external keyboard. But it is the closest I’ve been able to find to a Scrivener substitute until we can get the real thing. One reviewer has even noted that. … phone.html

I’ll post more when I get that iPad and can see how well the two work together.


Cheers, Mike.
I had a look the review links you provided and found them heartening. Thanks for the response; I enjoyed what you had to say.

I have been struggling with this for some time, moving between iMac and iPad. I was looking forward to Scrivener for iPad but I have now decided to sell my iMac and I have ordererd a MacBook Air. I have also bought a 2nd hand Thunderbolt screen so that the MBA can serve as my desktop. I can also take my MBA when I want to writer elsewhere (on retreat) without worrying about synching and wotnot.

I feel an immense relief at making this decision. I love my iPad and will continue to use it as a surfing/reading/email/twitter tool, but I no longer have to write on it and try to work round its limitiations.