ScrivNote for iPhone - feedback requested!

Of course, for people who have never used PDAs and never will, and only use paper and their desktop / laptop PC, it will be considered useless. I do not know how large the PDA / handheld computer crowd is. Maybe it is not that big, maybe it is. To say that it is an example of “we can do it, therefor we should” is negating the fact that we live in a digital age. It is negating the fact that we use Scrivener on the Mac.

There is a generation that has grown up in the digital age, and use the digital every minute in their lives. And then there is also the older crowd who have embraced the digital as a great tool for doing what they did before, but better. Or else, we would all still be using typing machines - some great writers still do, of course, and many still use the pen! But there is such a thing as progress. People use their mobile phones and iPods for many things, because that is what they have in their pocket. It is their address book, their notepad, and more. Paper is only used when they have to print out something.

With Apple moving their iPods to the iPod touch platform, there will be a proliferation of handheld computers in people’s pocket. It is what people use for music in the first place, but soon they will discover other uses. Students will most certainly use it for many things. And then there is the crowd of longtime Mac users who have dreamed about a great Apple PDA for a long time, and now it is finally here!

How marginal the use of ScrivNote will be, cannot easily be guessed, not even from reading this thread. All I can say that if there will not be a Scrivnote, it is not the end of the world. But, I will still use other apps for writing on my iPod touch, because I am part of the crowd who has embraced the digital. Scrivnote will just make it easier for text to be imported into Scrivener, that is all.

Personally I wouldn’t use Scrivnote in the immediate future, not owning any “i” hardware currently…

But looking further ahead, I might, having been an owner of Psions and Palms in the past.

There’s also the wider argument that if you don’t do it, somebody else probably will.


Well, I used the “for business” excuse to buy myself an iPod Touch and I have to say that I love it… And the keyboard on it is pretty decent, I can get a bit of a speed up even after only messing around on it. I’d never use it for serious note-taking - the Moleskine beats it on every level for that sort of thing - but I would definitely use it if I was out and about and didn’t have a notebook on me.

That said, there is one thing in this regard that I think is pretty awful and really, really lax:

Part 1) Even the standard Notes app that comes with the iPod Touch/iPhone cannot be synchronised with your computer - you can’t get all the notes out as text files on your Mac. I was expecting to have the iPod appear in the Finder as a volume, as iPods to if you set them up to store files, with the notes appearing as text files there… But that doesn’t happen. The ONLY way of getting notes out is to e-mail them to yourself (which makes me wonder at the point of the Notes app, seeing as you may as well just write your notes in the Mail app in the first place…).

Part 2) And this is really, really splendid: The drag type that is used by messages in Mail OS X is completely private. In other words, there is no way for developers to read messages dragged out of Mail. (Apple have their text views read a single dragged mail and create a link to it, which is why they appear as links in the text of Scrivener and other apps when dragged, but this is all done in private methods that developers have no access to.)

The upshot of this is that: a) The only way of getting notes out of the iPod/Phone is to e-mail them to yourself. b) Because developers can’t provide a way of you then just dragging the e-mails you sent to yourself into their applications, the only way of then getting the messages into other applications is to go through them one by one and copy and paste the text.

Thanks, Apple!

Anyway. I played with the iPhone SDK a little today for an hour or two (it’s a Sunday, I’m allowed to play). I can’t see myself developing anything for it in the near future, to be honest. It’s fun, but to create something meaningful would be a lot of work (work away from Scrivener), especially given the synchronisation issues, which I am still somewhat flabbergasted at.

However, this thread has been very useful - especially bodsham’s suggestion of some sort of “compatibility” format. That set me thinking, and I have come up with a way (in theory) of you being able to get your draft (or a subfolder of the draft) out of Scrivener for editing in another application - Word or whatever - and then getting it back into Scrivener so that the individual texts within Scrivener get updated with the changes you made (i.e. without having to split everything up again or creating duplicates). The use of this should be obvious: you could export your draft as an RTF or DOC file for so you can edit it on a Windows machine (supposing you have access only to Windows machines somewhere you are going, or at work or whatever), or on Linux, or on anything else, and then you could re-import it to Scrivener updating the existing files in Scrivener. I haven’t implemented it yet, but I’ve worked it all out in theory and I think this would be a very cool addition…

Right, off to play with my iPod Touch and new MacBook now…

All the best,

Glad to be of help, Keith. There are a number of annoying glitches in the whole iPhone, such as the inability to cut and paste and some really bad omissions on messaging (which is why I donated my iPhone to my son and went on to a Nokia N95). I think you’re wise to be wary of putting a lot of time into it. The compatibility format would allow it to be edited by a couple of add on text editors for the iPhone too.
I couldn’t believe the Notes didn’t sync with the Mac either - makes the Notes thing in Mail pretty redundant it seems to me. That said as an iPod that picks up mail and lets you go on the web it’s pretty amazing. If people want something simple to manage project (which does sync with a desktop app - as reliably as anything syncs at the moment) they might want to look at


It’s been a while since I’ve been on the Forum… I haven’t been able to keep up lately, but I was delighted to see your feedback request for ScrivNote for the iPhone! I’m surprised by all of the negative press in this discussion. I for one would absolutely LOVE to see ScrivNote become a reality!!! The iPhone has become a lifestyle for me. I’m able to take notes much faster than I ever could on my WinCE iPaq PDA. And by jailbreaking the phone, I’ve got full access to a Unix computer in my pocket. The iPhone is also ideal for traveling. On my last trip to Africa, I took only my iPhone and left the MacBookPro at home. The iPhone is not as convenient as a full laptop, but the thing fits in my pocket. I was able to do everything that I needed to do (web, e-mail, contacts, phone, journal notes, etc.)

I really like the Hipster note-card idea that was posted here. Also, the sync example that the GTD app, “Things” uses. It’s very fast and convenient via WiFi.

Many of the iPhone’s shortcomings are remedied by a jailbreak. Also, as the platform matures and Apple eases up, I’m sure most of these nagging issues will be addressed (copy/paste, bluetooth keyboard driver, etc.). It’s a full blown computer, for crying out loud… and a powerful one at that!

Why not give it a go, Keith?!?! :wink:

I’m with Dr Coffee. Keep it simple.


I use iPhone as my notepad. Not the preinstalled app, but WriteRoom, which syncs nicely and allows editing the files on iPhone directly in the desktop’s browser.

Something like ScrivNote wouldn’t be something I crave for. When I need to work, I’ll carry my iBook with me anyway. The possibility to view the contents of Scrivener files on iPhone would be nice, though. I wouldn’t even want to be able to edit all the assets. Having the chance to add notes directly in the project (a single “iPhone” file could be generated in the binder?) would be great. But the syncing thing can’t be underestimated,

So … nice to have. But not essential.

Keith, at the very least, the “compatibility format” would be extremely cool, so I’m glad something came of this discussion.

I spent a lot of the early 2000s writing large amounts of text on a Handspring Visor (with keyboard) and then a Palm Tungsten (with a smaller keyboard). They were fine for getting first drafts down, but rubbish for editing. When I got my iBook in 2004 I was only taking odd notes on the Tungsten (then the keyboard packed up and I started using a pencil and paper for notes again). The iPhone virtual keyboard is quicker than graffiti was, but not as fast as a real tippy-tappy keyboard.

The great thing about the iPhone is the ‘always-with-me’ factor: I don’t have to think about getting a notebook, pencil etc, the recording tool is just there.

The bad thing about the iPhone is the non-syncing notes. I could hardly believe it when I wrote some text in Notepad, synced the iPhone and the text never made it across. Why not?? :imp: (Of course, I can email the note to myself, but that is such a faff and clutters up my mail with emails from myself, and makes me feel a complete saddo.)

I went and bought the iPhone version of Writeroom, which, with its cunning use of Bonjour at least lets me see my text in Safari, where I can grab it using the Scrivener clipping service. But, the process is still clunky.

So, if there was to be any form of ScrivNote the absolute function would be a one-step way of getting text straight into full Scrivener. I don’t care about the other way: I’m not going to edit on the iPhone.

That’s it. Nothing else. Just text from the iPhone to Scrivener. Because that’s where I really write.


I have an iPod touch, and I find it useful for all sorts of things, not just music. I bought it as a development device after Apple accepted me into the iPhone dev program - how gracious!

I’m not sure how much functionality I’d want in a ScrivNotes app, but the core functionality of importing my raw text from a Scrivener project and add/edit just the text on the go, no special styling, would do it for me. Simply having a note-taking app which imports each little snippet into a special folder in the Scrivener project on sync would probably also be enough for many of us. But two-way sync would be optimal.

Scrivener would need to recognise the PDA, and Bonjour is the default way to meet and greet. Transfers are done with anything from plain socket talk to an embedded WebDAV server.

If you’re going to make it yourself, you need to be in the iPhone dev program to even test it on your own device. If you are making the app free, that’s all you need. If you’re charging a token amount for your work, there are a bunch of forms you need to send to the IRS. First apply for an ITIN, then use that to apply for tax exemption under a tax treaty between the US and your country of residence. After weeks of mailing back and forth, you’ll finally be ready to sign the sales agreement with Apple.

I’m sure Keith could make something great. Scrivener was my main reason for going Mac.
No pressure, though :slight_smile:

Still waiting for mail from Texas

WriteRoom now has an iPhone app.
Reviewed today on the MacWorld site. … c=rss_main

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE make this app. I love Scrievner and want to be able to access and sync my stuff. Thanks!

The idea seems intriguing, but it might only make sense if it did autosyncing, and that might take more time than it is worth for Keith. Those who’re interested in writing with their iPhone or iPod touch and moving the result to Scrivner, might look into:

  1. WriteRoom for the iPhone. I believe it will autosync with a Mac. Import the result. No need for two text editors that do the same thing.

  2. Evernote’s iPhone version. Evernote is becoming enormously popular. It’ll let you sync notes or whatever on all your gadgets via the Internet. I use it to move ideas, notes and weblinks between my MacBook (used elsewhere) and my iMac (confined to my apartment). For limited use, it’s free:

For the poster who needs a way to handle more complex, structured documents, the best idea might be to encourage the Omni Group to bring out the iPhone version of OmniOutliner that they’re considering. Combine that with a Scrivener that can import from OO, keeping all the structure, and that problem would be solved.

–Mike Perry, Seattle

Too bad, ever since I bought an iPod Touch (and later an iPhone) this has been my most-wanted app. As opposed to most people on this board, I actually think scrivener for the iphone would be extremely useful for on-the-road editing, note-taking and (even) writing, since the combination outliner/word processor/editor breaks longer texts up into manageable, small ones. Write Room simply is not an alternative, because there is no way to structure your documents in a similar way. Just like toralfsan, I am also a non-fiction writer and simply love Scrivener. It has now become the only reason for me to take a laptop with me on trips. For everything else – even mind mapping – I use the iPhone…

Maybe Keith could consider to work together with a developer of an iphone outliner app (zeptotools for instance, their zeptoliner offers a lot of editing/word processing functions for an outliner) They might be willing to develop a synchronization plug-in for scrivener…

Don’t be shy about making some money off your great program – point update or potential iPhone tie in. If you want, you can give some profits to charity, but you certainly deserve it. Even a 1.99 iPhone app could pay off.

Also, your bulletin board program e-mailed me my own password. I hate that as it’s so unsecure. Now I have to delete the e-mail, dump it from my trash, that whole thing. Is there a way to not have it do that?

The main reason I want a Scrivener app is to read scriv files on my iphone. I don’t want to write, and the whole transfer into rtf or doc palaver is irritating. I just want to go to a cafe, read my wip and write the next bit in my paper notebook. Any way of doing that now? I upload all my files to AirSet.

Oh. Intriguing …

You may also want to look at the Scribbler™ thread

Instead of making an iPhone app, perhaps a plug-in system could be added so that app writers could write a plug-in to pass data back and forth. You wouldn’t be limited to just one iPhone app, or the iPhone/iPod touch, but could write glue to import/export from any software. Keith could focus on Scrivener after that :slight_smile:

I love my iphone, and would certainly try out any app you build. I was wondering though - I wouldn’t type a huge amount, but I might make notes as I think of things on the run.

It’s also realistic to think that I might consider recording some notes verbally. Would that be beyond the scope of a simple app though? I don’t really know how easy or hard it is to build them.