Smart Annotations (like in Pages)

I have seen the future of editing.

I opened a Word document in Pages on the iPad, and marked it up as if it were a PDF or a sheet of paper with the Apple Pencil.

I then opened the same document in Pages on the Mac and made all my actual edits, deleting my annotations as I went along. No more PDFs in a separate window / second monitor. No more paper copies on my desktop.

It is magical and I want all my writing tools to have this capability…

Surely the RTF spec. would allow for the insertion of graphics tied to particular pieces of text?

Pages can export as rtf, but have you checked if the annotations remain?

They don’t. But that’s not really necessary since my workflow (at least until L&L adds this feature…) has been:

Compile to docx
Open in Pages on iPad
Markup with edits
Open in Pages on Mac
Make changes, deleting all markup
Export and copy changes back to Scrivener

Implementing it natively in Scrivener would require changes to Scrivener for iOS (to allow adding the annotations) and the desktop versions (to allow display & deletion of the annotations).

My question comes of the quote. I am not sure that the rtf format can contain graphics in the eay you suggest.

It will be interesting to see what Keith says.

Yeah…I think there would need to be a transparent layer for the drawing, which would save as PNG with transparent background, then embed the PNG in the RTF at the appropriate location. The trick I think would be keeping the location relative to the text rather than fixing it on the page, so that if e.g. you delete the word before an annotation, the annotation would move along with the rest of the text. (Incidentally, Pages hasn’t quite got this down - the feature IS in beta - it generally works but I have had a couple cases where annotations attached to footnotes or spilling into the margins didn’t relocate properly when text above was edited).

Might be possible if watermarks are possible… … atermarks/

Though at this point (after trying a test document saved as rtf from Word), Scrivener doesn’t display RTF embedded graphics in the correct location…

Nisus Writer Pro gets it in the correct location so that’s doable in RTF, but it appears it can only be positioned relative to a paragraph. So it moves vertically with edits but not horizontally, i.e. tied to a line but not a word.

Apple and Microsoft have millions of moolah and huge teams of engineers to throw at it; Nisus have a team and while NWP is based on the Apple text engine like Scrivener, they are working on a page layout model of a single file, and no iPad version.

Scrivener is different in both philosophy and how it’s structured, and has KB for both MacOS and iPad.

We can dream but …



Yah. I don’t think the single doc vs. binder structure should make a difference. But… it seems annotations don’t get copied when one copies the underlying text (even if you select all then copy).

I don’t really expect that L&L would implement this on their own. Hopefully Apple will turn it into part of the Cocoa text system in a year or two, once the bugs are out.

I can’t overstate how magical it is to use. I’m realizing too that it lets me move more of my editing workflow onto iPad since I no longer need to have a separate marked up file to edit from.

That, in and of itself, wouldn’t make a difference to how RTF files are saved, or stuff within them—this is probably true. But if the point that was being made is an observation on development focus then I would agree with it. Nisus focusses all of their effort on making the editor component as powerful as possible—because that’s what they are doing; with the exception of some dialogue boxes, the whole program is in the document window. Scrivener on the other hand puts most of its design effort into the project infrastructure, and the architecture of using large-scale file repositories to construct documents through a compiler. The text editor itself isn’t a recipient of a decade or more of sustained coding to that same degree.

That would be nice. :slight_smile: I wouldn’t cross my fingers though. They long ago decided to reinvent the wheel with Pages—I doubt it shares any common code with the text editor the rest of the world has access to, other than the most utterly fundamental components of font rendering and such. I.e. to bring anything they develop for Pages into the broader-use development toolkit would be to write a new implementation of it from scratch.

They haven’t historically paid much attention to it. We’re in a very small class of users of that text editor that demand a lot from it. Most software developers using the text engine find it does well more than they need to format text messages, to-do list notes, etc.

It’s an interesting approach for sure. I had some thoughts on a system like that way back when (you’ll need to scroll down almost to the very bottom of this rather long dog’s breakfast of post)—though chiefly I was interested in making double-spacing something useful in a digital context—and more as an intuitive visualisation in reaction to edits made to the text, as automatic annotation rather than modifying the original.

Toward a model more like what I think you’re talking about, I tried to adopt something similar with Curio initially, and then Scapple. I would take a passage of text and import it as paragraphs=notes, then around that centre column of original text, build a cloud of annotation and marking, using the tools provided by these programs. Curio in particular is well-suited to this task, with its freeform drawing tools and other plethora of visualisation and its overall “art board” approach.

That’s all Mac-based though, which I suppose for some might defeat the purpose. I did try using a tablet for a while, as a proofing tool. I never did get along with them for writing, but they do have a certain charm for read-only proofing. Back when I was interested in making it work though, all of the tools were unnecessary clumsy. I might give it a shot some day. I’m a big proponent separating proofing from editing, and that is how I work on a Mac, but to a degree you can say that working on a Mac is a form of editing, even if you’re proofing on a PDF—it’s an immanently editable environment, whereas for me, the iPad has a huge barrier of friction toward actual editing; an asset in this case.

Here are some notes I took on Pages - Scrivener round-tripping

on the Mac:

⁃	exporting Scrivener documents to RTF keeps comments and footnotes (inline and inspector)
⁃	but Pages doesn’t import either when importing to RTF

⁃	exporting Scrivener documents to DOCX keeps comments and footnotes (inline and inspector)
⁃	Pages imports the inline comments and footnotes successfully 
⁃	comments (not smart annotations) in Pages exported to DOCX import successfully in Scrivener
⁃	but line spacing and most likely some other formatting gets messed up in the process
⁃	Comments/footnotes that are sent as inline come back as inspector 

⁃ use DOCX and prepare to fix style on re-import to Scrivener

on iOS

⁃	In Scrivener: Share sheet > open in another app > Word (selected format) > Copy to Pages
⁃	In Pages: Export > Word > Copy to Scrivener
⁃	results seem to be the same as on the Mac but the whole process is cleaner because the Word documents used for the transfer don’t get saved to the file system so there’s no need to go back and delete them

⁃ Do the export / import on iOS if possible

First I’m amazed you remembered something you posted here 12 years ago!

Yes, I am also a big fan of separating editing and proofing. But I also generally separate editing into 1) marking up a paper or PDF copy (ideally with the pencil since I buy into the research that suggests different brain areas are involved in stylus vs. keyboard engagement, plus I just like to draw circles and arrows and the other copy-editing notations that I still remember, and I’m old enough that that feels more comfortable and natural than mousing and clicking to add comments) and 2) transferring (and usually amending and refining) those changes into the electronic document. I don’t find it effective to just sit down with an electronic doc and start revising directly.

The friction point in this has always been that I need to have two files on the screen or a paper copy on my desk, and that is now gone.

I’d recommend finding an iPad and pencil and giving it a try…

There are other ways to run a paper-like editing cycle without using Pages. (I generally despise both Pages and Numbers, along with iCloud; don’t get me started. :wink: )

My own process:

  1. Compile project or portion thereof to PDF, preferably on iOS.
  2. If on iOS iPad, “Open In” Noteshelf directly; if on Mac or PC, save PDF to Dropbox then import PDF to Noteshelf.
  3. Mark up PDF in Noteshelf with stylus of choice, on iPad of choice.
  4. Either implement edits on the iPad with Scrivener in split screen with Noteshelf, or set up your iPad next to your (mac or PC) and implements edits there.
  5. If you insist on having everything in Scrivener (I don’t), export the marked-up PDF from Noteshelf back to Dropbox and import it to Scrivener from there.

No iPad Pro nor iPad 6 needed. No Apple Pencil needed. I’ve been doing this about three years now. Many drawing-based iPad note apps will work besides Noteshelf; it’s just my favourite. I could run this in Goodnotes, or in Notability as easily. Not sure about Notes Plus; never tried it.

Yeah that’s how I’ve been working for the past few years (mostly with Notability ) . But it still requires a second device or flipping from app to app or split screen.

Another virtue of the Pages route is that it’s easier to make sure you hit every change bc the annotations are right there. Whereas on paper or PDF I occasionally will get busy with a rewrite and inadvertently skip over some marked up intended changes. My solution to that has always been to use a highlighter (on paper) or some further annotations in the PDF to mark the ones that are done. W/smart annotations I just delete when complete.

I figured I would give the suggestions a go - but things are falling apart at the first hurdle.

Anyone know what I’m missing?

In Scrivener iOS, with project open in the section I want to annotate, I tap the share icon.
I select “Open in Another App”, choose “Word” as the format, and scroll to “Copy to Pages”, which I tap.
I am taken to Pages, met with the spinner - then “Importing”, before getting the message “Couldn’t Import Document - An error occurred”, and can only press OK.

Just me?

[ Edit: ] Failed to notice this was in the Wishlist forum, not sure if the above should go in the iOS support sub-forum — apologies!

As an aside, tried Compile to Word, and then open in Pages >> same issue/problem. :blush:

Weird. I had never seen this before and then tried now and got the error. Good news is that quitting and restarting Pages seems to have fixed it.

I’m trying to wrap my head around this… are these annotations better than (inspector) comments because they’re hand-drawn? You get a similar benefit selecting text and creating text annotation on iOS, then on the Mac, loading the manuscript into Scrivenings mode with the Comments & Annotations pane in the inspector open. Click on an annotation, make your edits,and delete the annotation… repeat until you’re done.

Is that difficult to do with iOS Scrivener (not having a Scrivenings mode does hinder you a bit, I’m sure)? I don’t have an ipad, so it’s probably down to me not having the tools to play with that you do…

[Edit:] It’s working, with other sections/projects, thankfully. So clearly something buggy with the one I tried initially. Will see what I can. Regardless, will give this a go.

Yes, rdale, it’s difficult to do because inspector annotations/footnotes on the iOS version open one by one as popover windows when you tap on their anchors in the text. They don’t appear in the inspector.

Besides, I like marking up a PDF. As good as marking up hard copy without the need to print/keep track of hard copy. :smiley:

Reading on paper is not the same as reading on the computer or iOS Scrivener (or even Pages). You simply get a better overview and flow in your reading. When you suddenly wonder what the text said on the previous page you quickly turn the page for a quick look and then go back and continue where you were. The brain usually remembers relative position on a paper. And marking up a paper copy with a pen or pencil while you read is a very efficient way to edit the text.

But reading a pdf on a big iPad is almost the same thing, especially if you mark up with a pencil. I compile to pdf and open it in some good hand-writing app on my 12.9" iPad. This means I can’t change the text while reading, only make comments and arrows and such. When done, I put the iPad beside my Mac, like I would with a paper copy, and go through my annotations one by one. And I don’t delete the annotations. Why would I do that? I might need them for later reference.

But the OP is talking about making Scrivener do annotations like Pages, so they can mark up a project in iOS Scrivener and then go back to their computer and work through the annotations, deleting them as they go on their computer…

In my mind, doing a read-through on an iOS device to mark up text (but not edit it) works just as well in iOS Scriv as it does on iOS Pages, or iOS [pdf editor] if you’re going to end up back at your computer to do the edits, unless there’s something completely seamless about iOS Pages + iPencil vs iOS Scriv + [input device].

I have no problems understanding why some of you prefer to mark up PDFs on an iPad with an iPencil… that makes as much intuitive sense and doing it on paper. I don’t need an iPad to understand it’s utility for that method of markup.

Remind me not to post when I’m too tired to re-read the entire thread, rdale. :blush: You’re right, the OP was making the point that he could IN PAGES do the whole “markup with a writing implement” then make his edits to his Pages document, and delete the annotations without leaving Pages just by making an iOS/Mac round-trip. He wondered if this capability might come to Scriv.

And your post was correct in that typed inspector comments can do this in iOS, tho nowhere near as conveniently as OP’s original description. You just never have the text of the comments visible as you work on iOS. For me, this has been enough friction to keep me from using inspector comments at all. I use inline annotations so that I have visibility both on Mac & iOS.

This thread did inspire me to try some streamlining of my PDF workflow, tho. If I send my annotated PDF to Scrivener somehow, I can view it in a split editor on Mac, or in QuickReference on iOS. The only positives that the OP mentioned which are missing, then, are the single-app workflow and the ability to delete annotations.

But Lunk’s point about deleting the annotations being undesirable is well-taken. So it’s back to split-screen on iOS for me, with the advantage that I can use a green highlighter on my PDF in my annotation app to mark my annotations as having been implemented as I go. It’s no hardship for me, because I long ago decided to use Evernote for my research rather than Scrivener. My annotation app of choice automatically publishes to Evernote, so all my research, plus my handwritten marked-up edits are archived in the same place.