Sente vs Bookends and Scrivener

I’ve browsed through numerous forum posts about Sente and Bookends, and it’s likely I’ll get one of the programs in the next few days to support an ambitious nonfiction book project I’m doing for a social services agency.

Still, I’d very much appreciate any input from people who have used these programs, and specific tips for how you’ve integrated them with Scrivener: your work flow, for instance. (Things are still a little fuzzy on that aspect for me.)

In the end, I’ll be exporting from Scrivener to Word 2008 – the latter of which is supported by both Sente and Bookends, according to their web sites.

Incidentally, I’ve seen some posts suggesting that Sente doesn’t work with Scrivener, but here’s the response I got from Sente’s tech support when I asked that question. It may be helpful to other people to know this as well:

[size=85]Sente does work with Scrivener. You can drag references from Sente into
Scrivener and the correct temporary citation tag will be inserted. Until your
Scrivener fragments have been combined into a manuscript, I do not think that
Sente can scan the document, substituting these tags for final citations, but
I am not sure you would want this anyway.

I have not used Scrivener myself, so there may be aspects of the interaction
that could be improved. I would suggest trying both products and let us know
if you find something that you think could be improved. Scrivener is a very
important product in our market, so we would like the integration to be as
good as it can be, but we have not yet had the time to explore this much on
our own.[/size]

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I must first mention that I use and like Latex and Bibdesk. I am not going to argue they are perfect in every way, and they would not be best for everyone and every project, but they just work for me. My only point here is that I think they are rock solid, work well into my workflow, and I would be hard pressed to abandon what works for me.

Now let me talk about Bookends. I may abandon what works for me. I am so very impressed with Bookends, and I have created styles in Mellel that mimic Latex output - these facts may switch me over to a Scrivener, Mellel, and Bookends user fulltime.

Bookends integrates very easily into my Papers->bibliography software workflow. I can export easily from Papers to BibDesk, and the export between Papers and Bookends is even simpler. I had a little glitch, emailed Jon at Sonny Software, the developer of Bookends, and he responded promptly and thoroughly, and we had a back and forth until I had a solution I was happy with. Impressive support, even on Saturday morning!

I had just picked up a copy of Bookends to evaluate as a software solution for my students. I have tried it with Mellel and Word 2008, and it works perfectly and as expected in both. I also tried it with Scrivener, compiled a draft to Mellel, and again, Bookends performed perfectly in the workflow.

I can highly recommend Bookends. I bought it to test and evaluate it for use with a few software programs, and it worked very well with all of them (Papers, Scrivener, Word 2008 , Mellel). The one issue I had was promptly resolved by the developer, a chap who is available and responsive to his user community. I may even become a Bookends user if I can break old habits.

About a year ago I had to make the same decision.

I went for Bookends so everything I know about Sente might be a little dated.

Sente is, without doubt, the better looking program. Bookends is still Carbon (while Sente is written in Cocoa) and the programer Jon is not the expert for graphics.

If he ever reads this I hope he doesn’t feel offended because I did not at all intend to do so. Despite for this Bookends is simply an amazing program and his support is amazing too.

Back then in the days of the early 2007s it was said that Sente was better for people working in the medical field because of some better access to some data base important for them. I’m just a humanities drop-out so I do not know anything about this nor do I know if Bookends has caught up here in the meantime.

I do know that I found that Bookends not only comes with a huge number of standard output formats but also offers the most flexibility to define you own formats.

Integration with Scrivener: You can drag and drop to Scrivener from both programs. But for me dragging and dropping disturbs my writing workflow. I prefer a keyboard shortcut which obviously – otherwise the Sente support guy would have mentioned it – only works with Bookends.

You set in Bookends the target wordprocessor to Scrivener and then you can insert an entry from your Bookends database into your Scrivener document with a mere cmd+y. To get from Scrivener to Bookends in the first place, as a default you have to type cmd+shift(?)+y which I found really annoying. So I changed the shortcut to cmd+y too. One shortcut for hopping back and forth, that’s it for me. (Cmd+y is already in use in Scrivener so check out first if you loose a shortcut to a function important for you.)

The result is, depending on which format and citation delimiter you chose, something like {Nabokov, Original of Laura, 2009}. You add a ‘@15’ at the end of it (inside of the curly brackets) for the cited page.

Important: This is an INTERIM citation format. The idea behind this is that you get a unique identifier for both you and later Bookends that will be replaced by any chosen output format in the final reference scanning process. And you can change or modify the output formats any time later because the identifier never gets lost. You just dress him up differently, so to speak.

Which leads to the next step: The scanning itself can not be done in Scrivener. You first write in Scrivener, then export to a dedicated wordprocessor (or else). There you start the reference scanning process and get exactly the output you want.

At least it works like this with Mellel (and, like Claude mentioned, it works great!). I know that Bookends has a Word integration but I never used it myself.

But enough words – Bookends offers an evaluation period and so does Sente, doesn’t it? So download and play with them and check out which is the one for you.

I sincerely appreciate the thoughtful input to my query. And, I’ve been persuaded to try both programs. But it’s frustrating. I’m having a heckuva time wrapping my head around the concepts in each of them, probably because I’ve never used a program like this before. At any event, I eventually was able to grapple with Sente all right, but I’m getting repeated crashes with an “error -47” message in Bookends when I scan the Word 2008 document that I’d exported (with the citation) from Scrivener. The Word document doesn’t crash, but it also doesn’t change.

That’s where I am thus far. I have an e-mail to tech support at Bookends. This is probably something fairly easy to figure out. Meanwhile, the Sente tech support person said they’ll add CMD-Y support for Scrivener in their next update.

I’m beginning to believe I could have written the entire book in the two days it’s thus far taken me to make peace with Scrivener and other programs that apparently I’ll need for the project I’ve taken on. Too bad Scrivener can’t be used entirely on its own. I can see where it’s probably fabulous for fiction, but I’m finding it comes up a bit short on nonfiction, only because it really does need more than an independent word processor to manage a final project. Right now, it looks like I need Scrivener, a word processor (Word, ugh, in my case) and now, a dedicated citation program. Meanwhile, for all my little practice endeavors here, PDFs are breeding like rabbits in a variety of places. Databases everywhere!

I know what you mean, but if you’d followed the forum as I have for the last year or so, you would know that there are a large number of academics and technical writers who are using it extensively and quite happily for purposes like yours. Do take some easy-going time to learn what’s possible, you’ll be rewarded.


Thanks, Dave. I let myself get entirely too frustrated with the whole process in the last two days. That’s probably because I’ve taken on an ambitious project and chose to grapple with some sophisticated programs at the same time. I’m a reasonably advanced Mac user, but I generally prefer to space out any necessary learning curves for leisure time.

This is a very timely thread for me. I’ve been a PC user for years, working now on a huge history project that will probably grow to 300,000 words, all of which need to be backed up with citations. I’ve tried all kinds of organizational approaches under Windows, but find myself juggling lots of programs to handle idea collection/organization, bibliographic data, outlining, etc.

Yesterday, I started looking seriously at a Mac, with Scrivener as my central point of creation. But I too ran into the citation problem. Seems that, even with Scrivener’s power, the academic writer still has to juggle too many balls at once.

And then I’m also concerned about importing data from PC programs into similar Mac programs, such as from Biblioscape to BookEnds.

Would it be wiser to finish my current project in the PC environment, and then undertake new projects on a Mac?

Tough question, phmx… if you’re totally new to Mac, you should be ready to face a learning curve; how steep? that depends on your computer skills. Mac is easy to use: just drop all your bad Windows-based habits! :smiley:

Scrivener is a marvel. Handling citations is easy with Bookends and Scrivener. Collecting bibliography items is easy in Bookends. Then, you might find that everything else might not be so easy: scanning documents, generating bibliography in the right formats, etc… but that will happen AFTER you wrote your 300,000 words! That means you can start worrying after you wrote, say 100,000 words, at a time when you’ll be a master Mac and Scrivener user…
I’m not joking, you don’t have to learn everything at once, and I think many users in this forum agree with me about the easy of use of the Scrivener-Bookends combo.

My tuppence,

Just out of curiosity, I wonder what “leisure time” is. When you find some, can you describe it for me? Sounds like a great concept, but I can’t get my mind aorund it! :mrgreen:

More importantly does it require polyester?


Do take care
Dr Mulality

Leisure time: Time spent in the pleasurable pursuit of reading online posts instead of magazines in the bathroom. (No polyester required.) :confused: