Scrivner + collaborating with Google Docs users?

Scrivner is my go-to writing app, but I work with editors who only collaborate on projects via Google Docs.

I’ve read other forum posts about this issue, and understand that, as kewms wrote, “Once you export your files, they are no longer part of the Scrivener project. If you re-import them, they’ll look just like any other new imported file: any Scrivener-specific metadata will be lost.”

While I appreciate that, I’m trying to find some solution that will enable me to continue to work on Scrivner and collaborate with my editors with their approach.

Are there any new, suggested approaches for accomplishing this – especially that involve interfacing with Google Docs?

Thanks for your help.

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What sort of functionality are you looking for?

The Sync with External Folder mechanism can be used to edit documents from a Scrivener project outside of Scrivener. However, Google Docs uses a proprietary format, so you would need to convert to/from that format before/after editing.

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Thanks for your prompt reply!

Well, I expect my editors want to use track changes and/or comments in a Google Doc as a way to communicate during our collaborations.

I understand that’s tricky, but I’m desperately want to find a solution so that I can collaborate effectively with my colleagues, while still using Scrivner.

I welcome any suggestions you have…

Thanks!

Hi jprint,

This is probably too far out there (I’m probably going to get some flak for this) but the answer may depend on whether you know, or care to know, anything about LaTeX.

There is an entire Scrivener module, e.g. General Non-Fiction (LaTeX) dedicated to LaTeX that I have been working with for over two years.

If you’re still reading, try searching for the term:

LaTeX and Google Docs interface

One of the search items found is GLaTeX - Edit LaTeX on GDocs, which according to their website:

GLaTeX is a Google Docs Add-on! It converts Google Docs into a LaTeX editor that can compile PDF files and offers a rich user experience with various functionalities. We offer a Google Docs Add-on and a Chrome Extension!

Again, this is likely crazy, but I wonder if you could use GLaTeX as an intermediary between Scrivener and Google Docs, e.g.:

Scrivener (General Non-Fiction (LaTeX)) GLaTeX Google Docs

possibly as a way to work with your colleagues, while still using Scrivner?

One question that comes to mind is whether GLaTeX will accept raw LaTeX code input (from Scrivener) that it will then convert into Google Docs, or is the workflow unidirectional only, e.g.:

Scrivener (General Non-Fiction (LaTeX)) X GLaTeX Google Docs

as opposed to:

Scrivener (General Non-Fiction (LaTeX)) GLaTeX Google Docs?

Just a thought … HTH
scrive
:thinking:

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Wow. Thank you so much for your detailed reply, and suggested approach.

I need to take a closer look at all of this to see if / how this might work. My first thought is that it sure seems like a lot of moving parts, and that makes me nervous when dealing with work collaborations (not to mention edits shooting back and forth w/ track changes and comments).

Is this the only really viable approach? Or are there other solutions?

Thanks!

Hi jprint,

You are very welcome.

If GLaTeX can be use to translate between Google Docs and Scrivener, I’m glad I brought it to your attention. However, other than having some experience using LaTeX with Scrivener, which is very powerful, I have NO experience or knowledge of GLaTeX aside from the information garnered from the quick search I did for LaTeX and Google Docs interface.

If, and I stress a big IF, as I mentioned in my earlier post, GLaTeX will accept raw LaTeX code input (from Scrivener) that it will then convert into Google Docs, then I would think GLaTeX may be of some use to allow you to collaborate with your colleagues. I’d imagine, though, that there would still be a number of steps to achieving your goal.

Apologies that I do not have any additional information on your issue and cannot be of more assistance. Given the sheer size of the Google Docs environment, however, I imagine the possible implications for the possibility to connect between Scrivener and Google Docs can be quite significant, for both Scrivener and Google Docs.

Thank you for responding to my initial posting. Good luck on your search for a way to connect Scrivener and Google Docs.

scrive
:thinking:

I’m struggling to see the advantage of using a LaTeX conversion from Scrivener to Google Docs. There’s no “import LaTeX into Scrivener” functionality at all; Scrivener can, with some work, export to LaTeX, but there’s no coming back into Scrivener via that route.

You can just compile your work in one of the Word formats and import that into Google Docs, I believe. There’s nothing extra you have to learn (other than how to compile) to get a DOCX output from Scrivener. You can even import Word documents back into Scrivener…

BUT… you can’t incorporate track changes into Scrivener. The best you can hope for there is to work through any suggestions, accepting or rejecting them while working in GD. Then export the GD into a Word or RTF format (whatever they support natively). You can import that one document back into Scrivener, but that import will be separate from your original binder items in your Scrivener project.

No matter what you do, you’ll end up copying and pasting from either GD or from the GD->Word->Scrivener import back into your original binder items if you want that kind of round-trip.

What a GREAT point for learning about Scrivener + LaTeX.

I view the intersection between Scrivener and LaTeX like the following Venn diagram to represent the functionality available in each, and how the two overlap in capability and practicality:

There are so many ways to discuss the intersection between Scrivener and LaTeX … I cannot even imagine how anyone would attempt to “import LaTeX into Scrivener”. As demonstrated by the diagram, there are SO MANY functions available in LaTeX that simply do not exist in Scrivener, AND to some extent, many functions in Scrivener that have NO parallel in LaTeX.

Simply said, Scrivener and LaTeX are complementary and that is the beauty of using Scrivener with LaTeX.

I am NO expert on the power and precision that Word’s track-changes function provides, and I am even less familiar with what alternatives there are, so the challenges for jprint are certainly steep in their search for a way to connect GD and Scrivener, if at all possible.

At this juncture, there is one suggestion I’d like to pass along to those who may be considering using LaTeX with Scrivener: a track-changes app of sorts that I have found VERY handy and productive when attempting to sort out changes in the compiled, pre-typeset output from a (MacOS) Scrivener project, particularly where LaTeX has been employed.

The app is CompareMerge2.app, available on the Apple App Store (I forget the price). I’ve used CompareMerge2 to compare the pre-typeset compiled text output from Scrivener from two different versions of my project when one version would typeset and one would not. The app saved me on a number of occasions when I could not otherwise find what may have changed within the 18K lines of compiled, post-Scrivener, pre-typeset code. I would think CompareMerge2 would be useful to compare any two text based code files on the Mac platform.

HTH,
scrive
:thinking:

That’s handy for those who need it, but to be clear, how is exporting to LaTeX going to help the OP? I don’t see where jprint mentioned they were using LaTeX, so that’s just something added to their process that’s more complicated, isn’t it? Does it provide a way to get the GD tracked changes back into Scrivener somehow? Is it easier to use than directly interacting with GD’s track changes? I can’t imagine how it would be.

From my experience, exporting GD to RTF or Word preserves comments, and Scrivener can turn those into inspector comments, but that’s about the extent of the back-and-forth you’re going to get.

jprint, Other than getting your work from Scrivener to GDocs, what are your other hopes/goals beyond that? As you’ve already discovered, there’s not any round-trip that works with Google Docs. Sync with External Folder has been mentioned. The only other thing is compiling to a format that GD can import from, working in GD for a while, and then either copy & paste the end-result of the collaboration back into the individual documents in Scrivener, or export GD to Word format, import into Scrivener, and work from that imported document from that point.

I don’t know if they managed to add the feature to the Windows v3 Scrivener, but there is a compile option in Scrivener for Mac that inserts links in the text of your compiled document. Clicking on that link with both that compiled document and your original Scrivener project on the same computer will take you to the binder item that the text following it came from. That can aid in locating where in Scrivener to paste that modified text to at least.

I do suggest that you use Scrivener snapshots before pasting any changes into your documents, so you can compare what you and your editor(s) changed while working in GD.

I think you should bear in mind that the following diagram is equally valid (if not a huge exaggeration of the percentage of Scrivener users who compile through LaTeX!):


On the Nisus forum I asked if a macro had been created to take a .md file and convert into RTF with a given stylesheet. The first answer I got was, “Why bother, when PanDoc exists?” To me that was like suggesting buying a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

Given that GoogleDocs can convert back and forth with DOCX, and Scrivener can import and export DOCX, the suggestion of that the OP install everything necessary to work with LaTeX and follow a learning curve like you have been going through over the last two years is similarly a sledgehammer+nut scenario.

Don’t get me wrong, I admire your work with Scrivener + LaTeX, and read all your posts. I wish I had the time and energy to explore it myself — I did use very elementary LaTeX some 40 years ago before I entered the Apple universe — but the prospect is too daunting now. Learning to use MultiMarkdown and, with help, arriving at a working macro in NWP — which I’m long familiar with though I am no hand at macro programming in NWP — is almost more than enough for me.

:slight_smile:

Mark

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Scrivener and LaTeX are disjoint. Scrivener is a tool for writing. LaTeX is a typesetting tool. Attempting to use LaTeX as an exchange format between writing tools is on about the same level as printing to PDF and OCR-ing the result. As such, further LaTeX discussion is off-topic for this thread.

Ok, so in lieu of using LaTex with Scrivner, is there another, suggested approach for how I can use Scrivner and collaborate with my colleagues who are using track changes and comments in Google Docs?

Thank you!

@Rdale’s post upthread has some good suggestions.

One thing to consider is at what point you want to bring your colleagues into the process. Will you have a mostly-complete draft and expect most comments to be minor line edits? Or do you expect their comments will lead to wholesale reorganization of the draft?

Our advice for Google Docs users is the same as our advice for Word users: at some point, you may find that Scrivener’s tools are no longer needed.

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Without more info, it’s hard to advise. Can you work with them on individual binder items? If so, sync with external folder buys you the following:

  1. Isolates changes so you don’t have to split up the end-result of your collaborations.
  2. Automates snapshots when you sync those external files back to the project (Scrivener takes a snapshot for you before it imports the change).

Note that you can’t sync with Google Docs. You’ll have to import/convert those files into Google Docs, and then export/copy and paste FROM GDocs back into these external files in RTF using an editor that can handle that format without converting it.

Do you need to compile an entire novel/academic document so they/you are working on the entire thing in one GDoc? Then the embedded links that compile can add may be some help. But you’ll have to keep up with which chapters/sections were changed and copy/paste them back to Scrivener once you’ve finished a round of collaborations.

If there’s going to be a lot of back-and-forth, then you’re stuck in GDocs for the duration of that collaboration, and a manual re-integration of the final, accepted text is the only way to go back to Scrivener.

Thank you for your response – it’s a helpful way for me to frame my query. It’s also hard to answer fully at this stage, since I’m trying to imagine a work process; I’ve been trying to put it together before trying it out (to avoid technical problems).

But I’d say that I’m imagine a way that I can produce a draft via Scrivner, share it with my editor via Google Docs, have him edit & comment on the draft in track changes, and then in some way import the edited draft into Scrivner, work on it some more, and then share another, revised draft.

Again, that’s what I’m imaging at this stage… But I’m open to other, suggested approaches – provided they’re not too onerous my colleagues, and don’t lead to many technical glitches.

Thank you!

I’d say, you only have the options I suggested in the previous reply… Try playing with compiled-in back-links and Sync with External Folder, maybe with a test project first. Start playing with the features and figure out the back-and-forth with GDoc from there.

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Thanks so much for your incredibly helpful suggestions! I hope you don’t mind, but can you break down your suggested approach a bit more? I just want to ensure I’m following every step to ensure this is a seamless as possible, and to prevent against technical process…

For instances you asked:

So, you’re suggesting that I select individual binder items (i.e., the “Current Selection”) and then click Compile? Just want to be sure that I’ve got that right.

And then I should chose Compile for → “Rich Text (.rtf)” format for the import/conversion of those files into Google Docs, correct?

Finally, can you walk me through the process of “Sync with External Folder” so that it works with Google Docs – and the back and forth conversion process I’m seeking?

Thank you!

Another point to consider. To what extent do you need to track specific changes?

In my own process, I find it’s useful to consider each draft de novo, without reference to any previous versions. This makes moving in and out of Scrivener easy: I just accept all the changes and import the file into Scrivener as a new document. The original draft still exists in case I need it, but I usually don’t.

If you need a more detailed version history – “On January 10, Jane Smith changed the dates covered by the contract, while on January 11 Mike Jones changed the dates back and added a notification requirement.” – then you’ll need to be more careful about tracking exactly when a synchronization with Scrivener took place, when a new version was created, and so on.

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You can include whatever documents you want in the Compile output. Which means you can send your collaborators anything from a single sub-section to the entire draft. @Rdale is telling you what’s possible, but it’s up to you to decide what you want.

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Thanks for making that point. I feel like I need to experiment with the process first, as you and @Rdale have suggested.