Seamless syncing

Thoughts on syncing…

Now that I’ve seen the note on the IOS version finally approaching reality, I wanted to share a perspective.

I’ve been a fervent Scrivener enthusiast since the first version, but over the last year I was seduced by Ulysses. Not because of the software’s features (I vastly prefer Scrivener) but because my world is made up of three Mac’s in different locations and one iPad.

I have fallen into the habit of picking up whatever machine is closest and typing away on one of several projects whenever I get an idea (which seems to happen at odd times). And with Ulysses, it just doesn’t matter what machine I grab. The latest version of the text is always there waiting for me, with the cursor waiting on the last word I typed on whatever machine. After a variety of startup issues, Apple’s embedded application-level syncing system works fabulously for me. I never have a file conflict issue.

With Scrivener, I have to remember to close files on one machine before I can open on another. Sometimes the machine with them open is at home and I’m at work. I can use remote desktop features to go into my home machine and shut down the app and then open on my work machine, but it’s a hassle. And I also use my iPad frequently, especially when I wake up with a great idea in the middle of the night or when traveling.

When the iPad version of Scrivener is released, I would hope the OS X version is also updated to feature this seamless and automatic kind of syncing (via Apple or Dropbox or whatever), because that’s the one thing that drove me to Ulysses. If so, I’ll be back to Scrivener in a heartbeat. Without it, even with the iPad app software released, I might not return.

Seamless syncing is that important to my writing work style.

Its a huge factor for me too…

I would kinda be ok with the current external sync option. As you can have Scrivener export to an iCloud folder, therefore i can edit those files on my mobile. However, I can’t find a way to have subfolders so its just one huge list of unmanageable files.

Some solution to this would be nice.

Unfortunately there are no plans for the seamless syncing that iCloud can provide some programs. It’s not that I wouldn’t love to provide it; it’s just that iCloud’s syncing features that allow for this do not really work with Scrivener’s file format. And it’s not just a matter of changing Scrivener’s file format to fit the syncing features, because this would necessitate changing Scrivener’s features - removing many of the research features, for instance. Syncing a bunch of plain text files with no structure is very different from syncing project folders with structured data. I’ll certainly continue to evaluate it, as it would certainly be nice not to worry about which computer you pick up and whether a project is open or not, but currently it doesn’t seem possible given the APIs available. The iOS version uses Dropbox and will require manual sync. If this is enough to push you to another app, then I imagine that the unique features of Scrivener are not that important to you anyway.

All the best,

Will the Dropbox syncing between OS X and IOS (or between two Macs) still require me to close the project on one machine before opening the same project on another machine?

I understand now why you can’t match iCloud’s transparent syncing due to file structures and API limitations, but if I can open the project on a second or third machine without worrying about the project being left open on the other machines, then that might be good enough.

Also, if I return to a machine that has the project open, after modifying the project on a second machine, will it automatically load the last save to Dropbox to avoid any file conflicts, or do I risk data corruption?

As a matter of best practices, though, do you really want to leave Scrivener running on a computer when you don’t have physical access to it? For hours at a time?

When Scrivener is running, the project is vulnerable to everything from power outages and system crashes to cats walking on the keyboard and malicious (or careless) humans.

Why not just shut down your home machine while you’re at work?


Actually, I do want to keep them running. The screens lock in a few minutes and the machine sleeps, so no inappropriate input is possible.

My analogy is a screwdriver. I want to be able to pick up the one closest to me and not have to remember where or how I left the last screwdriver I used. Or how many screwdrivers I have.

Personally, I would be surprised if Scrivener corrupts files on a power outage on a Macbook or iPad – whatever that even means to a battery powered device that can put itself to sleep and save its state when the battery gets low. Also, I can’t remember the last time I had a Mac or iPad system crash.

So no, those are not worries. I just like to write wherever I am, whenever I have a moment, with whatever machine is close at hand, and not worry about the state of the machine I last worked on or file conflicts.

This need will become even keener with the IOS version and the opportunity for “wake up in the middle of the night Eurekas” where I reach for my iPad and I don’t want to worry about what I was doing earlier on the Mac in my downstairs office, for example. I just want to be able to write or edit whenever or whatever and not worry about conflicts. Even better, I want the cursor on every machine I pick up to be on the same character it was on (for a given Project) the last time I touched it on whatever machine.

I’m gradually beginning to realize that seamless and transparent syncing has spoiled me in ways I didn’t recognize until I started to reconsider Scrivener on the iPad.

I also wouldn’t mind the type of seamless syncing that Ulysses provides. But clearly it’s not going to happen anytime soon for Scrivener. I have both apps on my devices and yet I barely use Ulysses now. It’s a nice app, it looks great, it’s just not the kind of app that fits my need like Scriv does. I guess Ulysses fits the OP needs enough that seamless syncing becomes a deal maker (or breaker)