Scrivener vs World Anvil

Longtime lurker here. I made an account solely to reply to your question. Full disclosure: I am a software engineer, a PC user, and I have owned my version of Scrivener since the beginning of 2014 (so 7 years at this point). That said, the following is my opinion so take from it what you will.

[size=85]And to anyone reading this, please note that my response to this thread is not an invitation to debate. I have my reasons for doing and not doing whatever I please, just as any of you. So if anyone has an issue with my opinions/reasonings and attempts to draw me into a defense, just know that I’ll ignore you.[/size]

Preliminarily, I would say that in order to determine whether or not Scrivener is right for you will depend on your personal familiarity and comfortability with the general conventions surrounding both software (applications that are installed and run on your local computer) and webware (applications that are accessed through websites on any given web browser). If you are most familiar and comfortable with working within the confines of your own computer, then of course Scrivener is a great product. However, if you are someone who values being able to access your creative material from any particular location, regardless of the device, then no, Scrivener is not a great product. That being said, all consumers should be aware of the reality that webware is only ever going to increase in quality and ubiqtuity, Why do I bring this up? Because quality webware is unbelievably convenient. So, if you’re curious to know whether or not I use Scrivener, the answer is no, not anymore. As of last year, I have completely stopped using Scrivener altogether and have begun using World Anvil instead.

So, let me list my personal pros and cons of Scrivener and World Anvil:

Scrivener PC Pros:

  • Near limitless levels of organizing and structural nesting. Basically OneNote on steroids. Very useful for the hyper neat-freak.
  • Custom icons for folders that allow users to establish highly organized project layouts and which also allows users to develop their own document/folder status system, e.g. a page icon with a star could be used to symbolize a document that is in a final draft stage, while a page icon with a pencil could be used to symbolize a document that is in development, etc. You get the idea.
  • A very useful name generator.
  • Great application for people who are not comfortable or familiar with webware or who simply prefer software applications (I don’t fall into this category, but by my own observations of the community over several years, I would say that many of Scrivener’s users do)
  • One-time purchase. No subscription model.

Scrivener PC Cons:

  • The only file-sharing service that it plays nicely with it is Dropbox.
  • The text editor environment is extremely primitive and its rich-text tools are severely un-ergonomic, particularly tables and lists. So, if you are expecting the text editor to provide you with tables that can be used and controlled as easily in Microsoft Word or OneNote, you will be sorely disappointed.
  • Because Scrivener files are saved in their own proprietary format, you cannot access and edit your projects on your phone or tablet, even if they are stored on Dropbox. Scrivener files can only be opened by running Scrivener on Windows-based operating systems, such as Windows desktop PCs or a Microsoft Surface products, such as a Surface Book.
  • Lastly, and the most controversial con of all, Scrivener for Windows has been plagued with massive development delays for years, and it has lead to a severe degree of hostility and toxicity between its users and developers throughout this forum. At this point, it is an objective fact that anyone who uses Scrivener for PC should not expect to receive updates and improvements on the same cadence as Mac/iOS users. And this reality has more or less resulted in the formation of to two groups within the Scrivener PC community. In the red corner, you have users who don’t care about the lack of parity between Mac and Windows because they’re simply happy with what they have. Meanwhile, in the blue corner, you have users who are very upset at the constantly moving development goalposts. And so, for the past two years, the two factions have battled it out throughout this forum, usually with the Reds painting the Blues as trolls and/or ungrateful users, while the Blues paint the Reds as apologists and the developers as incompetent. TLDR: here be drama dragons

World Anvil Pros:

  • Webware that can be accessed anywhere as long as you have internet access. Phone, tablet, PC, Mac. Doesn’t matter.
  • Collaboration. The separate subscription models allow groups of people to collectively work on a project.
  • Unlimited articles/pages for projects that are owned by a paid subscriber.
  • Tons of article templates that are equipped with prompts and sections for organizing content. Think Wikipedia pages.
  • Complete customization of the look and feel of your projects and articles through the use of CSS, whether they come from the community or made yourself (if you’re technically savvy enough)
  • Unlimited projects for the grandmaster subscription level (the most expensive subscription model - $105 per year)
  • Updated every month with new features and quality of life improvements.
  • I’m gonna stop listing stuff because I don’t want this to seem like I’m trying to advertise it. But if any of this stuff interests you, you should look into it because there is a lot more.

World Anvil Cons:

  • It’s a subscription-based application. There are four levels in total, the first is a free version that has heavily reduced features, and then three subsequent subscription levels at progressively increasing payment costs that offer more features. And, as I mentioned previously, the highest subscription model is $105 per year, a price that many people will find to be too much to swallow.
  • Unfriendly to users who are not comfortable or familiar with slightly technical user interfaces. However, it has a very massive community of users and plenty of documentation to offset most, if not all, issues.
  • Text formating in articles is done through bbcode tags. (I personally hate bbcode but, at the end of the day, I can get more reliable and controllable customization out of my documents/articles in World Anvil than I can through Scrivener, so I put up with it)

So with all that said, I hope I have helped you consider what sort of tool will be best for you. And, again, these are my opinions, I’m not here to debate and I will not be responding to you if you try.

From the World Anvil FAQ page:

It would seem the two have totally different roles and uses. So not exactly an “either - or” scenario.

I would personally consider that to be an outdated response, as World Anvil now has a manuscript mode that is for writers, among many other new tools and features like calendars, timelines, family trees, etc. In fact, that actually brings to mind one other con of World Anvil, which is that even though it is constantly developed and updated by a two-person team (I believe they are husband and wife) it is easy to find articles that are outdated.

I thought you promised not to debate/respond?

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The official position of Literature & Latte on this (and similar):

If you find an application that does everything Scrivener does as well as Scrivener does for less than $25, buy it.


Oh no he didn’t! He actually said:

In other words SirPixel does not wish to engage in silly scraps, or to defend himself from unwarranted attacks or snide remarks, but is quite happy to have and continue a discussion. That is my interpretation of what I read.

And I am not prepared to defend it :smiley:

In other words, signed up for the sole purpose of trolling the group, promoting another product, and demanding no-one respond… Nothing to do with ‘unwarranted attacks, etc.

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And promptly posted in the wrong forum,

The Software & Development forum (which explicitly permits the discussion of all software, as opposed to this forum which is for feedback on Scrivener for Windows, not competitive product breakdowns) is over here: viewforum.php?f=14

Moderator Note: moved to the appropriate forum for general software discussions. We do not mind discussing alternatives one bit, but we do ask that you do so in the designated area.

Exactly. I have no problem having a genuine conversation based on personally held perspectives in order to understand the ways and reasons why a particular person finds value in something else. And that’s because the values which we personally find in the tools that we use and enjoy are directly derived from our own intrinsic goals and dispositions. But I’m not about to entertain or respond to name-calling and derisive banter (banter which has already been lobbed my way). People are always going to find areas that they disagree on, it’s unavoidable. But that doesn’t mean discussion should devolve into ad hominem attacks or slights. All it does is distract from the core conversation; there’s simply no point in engaging in it. And, in fact, it is precisely because of individual positions and disagreements that true discussions have any value at all (aside from genuine curiosity and interest).

I looked World Anvil over, not something I would be even remotely interested in.

But Scrivener is the product I was looking for when I somehow stumbled on it a few years ago. It was love at first sight. :wink:

After a cursory look at the site, I quickly decided I’d need a deep dive just to get a vague idea as to whether I’d be interested. I don’t have time or energy for a deep dive I don’t need.

For me it was easy. World Anvil is strictly for fiction writers.

Though I strongly suspect that the majority of Scrivener users are fiction writers a significant percentage of us are not fiction writers. I don’t read fiction what to speak of write fiction.

I use Scrivener for preparing seminars, articles for the web, preparing briefs for clients, writing a text book series, announcements, long letters, organizing protocols for strategic analysis, organizing my research notes, etc… I use it for all my writing. I rarely use MS Word these days except for final drafts. Plus I need something that supports Bibliographic software and citations and can handle other languages like Sanskrit and Greek. Scrivener is perfect for all of this.

Like the person who was promoting Bibisco in this thread

except SirPixel was not rude.

I do write fiction, science fiction and fantasy, and I’m still not interested World Anvil.

It’s far too easy to get caught up in world-building and forget to write. Don’t want something that focuses on world building and considers the novel writing an afterthought. Besides, Scrivener plus a notes database does just fine.

Perhaps I missed something skimming the original post, but for certain definitions of “phone” and “tablet”, this is a false statement. iPhones and iPads run a version of Scrivener, which when synced with Dropbox, are compatible with Scrivener for Windows. Note that if you add in version 3 for Mac into the mix, you have to pair that with the Windows beta, as the project format is upgraded by v3/the beta, so all devices have to be able to use that format.

Also, Sync with External Folders, a feature available on all versions of Scrivener for Windows & Mac, will allow you to use a 3rd-party editor on any device that can access a cloud sync service to edit a select sub-set of the files in your binder.

BTW, I assume this thread was pruned from another discussion, yes? Out of curiosity, is there a link to that one, just for context?

I believe this is the original source thread,

Well, coming on here for the express purpose of pimping someone else’s software in the wrong forum is an inherently rude action, no matter how polite his wording may have been (and the “I’m not here to debate” is a huge red flag.)

No matter how much you frost a turd, you still don’t want to eat it.

He wasn’t suggesting you should eat anything. Nor was he waving red flags.

I also didn’t take him as “pimping someone else’s software”. He mentioned World Anvil, which he said he found better for his uses. I had never heard of it. I went to look at it when I had a spare ten minutes. I thought it looked extraordinarily interesting for someone else but not for me.

And not for most novelists either.

It seems to be for people who want to create massively complex worlds. They might be setting out to write a novel sequence like Dune. They might be setting out to create a long term D&D game (I knew some people who played the same D&D game every Friday for 11 years - and documented it all. This would have been perfect for them.) They might be trying to document every single aspect of the Star Trek universe in order to write fan fiction. This seems a verty niche market (but what do I know) - but for people who are, or want to be, inhabiting that niche then this seems like the perfect software.

I am glad to know about it, even though I will almost certainly have neither the need nor the inclination to use it. It is nothing like a competitor to Scrivener for 99% of Scrivener users. It is not, for example, like that online app that people mention here from time to time which might be construed as a potential competitor.

So I am not sure why anyone finds this problematic. We learned something. I like learning things. Thank you for showing it to me. I don’t think I will find it relevant.

That seems like a reasonable response to me.