Scrivener3, Dropbox, Directory Opus button - macro for syncing projects

I wonder if this might be of use to Scrivener users who also use GPSoft’s Directory Opus file manager. It’s a very powerful (and somewhat technical) replacement for Windows File Explorer, and it allows users to create custom buttons that can do almost anything.

I’m currently using the “backup-edit” sync strategy for editing files on Dropbox. This approach treats the backup ZIP on Dropbox as THE project file, instead of attempting to edit the usual scriv folder “while it’s residing on” Dropbox.

The advantage is SAFETY, mainly. This strategy means that internet time delays on large scriv projects can’t interfere with proper synchronization on the remote Dropbox server, so data corruption from communication issues is almost impossible.

This strategy requires that Scrivener’s settings specify a specific Dropbox backup folder for automatic backups, and that Scrivener embed a date+time stamp in the ZIP file name.

The manual procedure for editing a project is to:

  1. Select the most recent backup ZIP file in the Dropbox folder.
  2. Copy the ZIP backup file to a local folder.
  3. UnZIP the backup file.
  4. Delete the backup file.
  5. Go into the local unzipped project.
  6. – edit the project –
  7. After editing, delete the project folder (recommended).

This is obviously a mild nuisance, especially when you’re getting started. To simplify things, I created a Directory Opus BUTTON that does steps 2-5 in a single click.

Now I just select the backup file, click the button, and whack ENTER to begin editing.

When I exit Scrivener, a new backup file is created on Dropbox automatically (by Scrivener), so I delete the temporary project file I was just editing, and I’m done.

Note: The temp project file gets deleted because it might otherwise create confusion as to what’s most current. This is especially true if I’m accessing the project from different computers, which is the whole point of hosting the project on Dropbox in the first place. If I’m careful, I could leave the project file and return to it multiple times, and each session would create a new backup on Dropbox. But if I leave the project on one computer, and do the same thing on another computer, I now have two versions and no easy way to tell which is current. In that case, if I am always careful to start with the most recent ZIP on Dropbox, all will be well, but having obsolete editable projects lying around is an invitation to chaos.

Of course, even more chaos can be created by editing a project on two computers and not exiting Scrivener on either one. This will leave two un-backed-up versions, and eventually two unreconciled backups – neither of which contains all the edits! (Such things can happen when a user allows their laptop to “sleep” or “hibernate” and then takes up editing the project on another computer.)

So … if anyone reading this happens to use DOpus, here’s a screencap of all the settings, including a few lines of “script” that do all the work. (The Scrivener icon can be loaded from the EXE file in the Scrivener install folder.)

I hope this helps someone. Writing DOpus macros is tricky, so this might same some time. If nobody on the forum uses DOpus, this description of the “backup-edit” sync strategy might be interesting anyway. In any case, I highly recommend DOpus if you like power-user file management tools. Feel free to ask for more info about this sync strategy, or Directory Opus. (I’m not affiliated with GP Software in anyway; just a very satisfied long-term user.)

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Hi there, thanks for sharing this.

As I’ve found DropBox to be rock solid with Scrivener, I think I’ll continue with Dropbox syncing myself. But I could see this method being particularly useful for the folks who are Dropbox adverse and want to use a service for syncing that doesn’t work very well with Scrivener–for instance, Google Drive,

That said, Directory Opus seems quite powerful and I may have other uses for it.

However, the links in your post lead to “DP Software”, maker of a software package not named Directory Opus. By any chance, did you mean “GPSoft”, at this link?

Best,
Jim

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Good catch, Jim! Thanks a million for letting me know. I’ve corrected the links in the message (and I thought I was being so helpful, putting them all over the place).

This is what happens when I do too much multitasking. “Round Robin” task switching is messy, but the only solution is multiple brains, something I haven’t figured out yet.

GPsoftware has been refining and tweaking DOpus since 1990, and their key developer seems to LIVE on their forum; he usually responds to any support question within a few hours. Updates still come out about every 2-3 weeks. Amazingly solid software.

Thanks again,
Allen

I’m a long-time user of Directory Opus, and while I don’t scratch the surface of what it has to offer, the features I have found and use have become indispensable. It is a fantastic and rock-solid file manager I can’t live without.

Looking forward to investigating your solution in more detail, as I’m also a Dropbox user. Thanks for posting!

Feel free to post or DM if you have any questions about the button. One reason I like it is that since I have all my Scriv projects backed up to the same Dropbox folder, I can now select any one of them and tap the ScrivEdit button and hit Enter and I’m instantly editing the project locally.

The downside is just that some discipline is required to refrain from editing any local projects once they’re being used in this way, and of course to be sure you’re editing the most recent ZIP file on Dropbox. That’s one reason one might elect NOT to embed the timestamp in the ZIP file name, but I feel better having the edit history of prior ZIPs. It’s easy enough to clean up now and then.