Would it ever be possible for Scrivener sync the way Google Drive does, so that multiple people can work on one project simultaneously, and so that it’s possible to have a cloud backup without needing to constantly upload and download files? (I guess this would kind of amount to putting Scrivener online?) I love this program so much, but the one big pitfall for me is that it feels like a hassle to sync it between computers compared to other writing programs.

No, there are no plans for a web-based version of Scrivener.


Okay, thanks for letting me know! Gotta say that’s a little disappointing, though. Is there any particular reason why there are no plans to put it online?

I’m not with L&L, but have seen a few of their responses to this request.

The short answer is: It’s way too complex for a small company like L&L to implement. Google has essentially infinite resources to throw at a technical challenge such as this, while L&L has three. (One working on Apple side, two working on Win side).

What he said. It’s an enormous technical challenge: it took Google’s nearly infinite resources something like five years from the first versions of Google Docs to something that was commercially viable, and even now note that Google Docs doesn’t have anything resembling Scrivener’s interrelationships between files.

It’s also an enormous infrastructure challenge: most cloud services are not designed for real-time synchronization. While Google Docs manages it for their own proprietary document format, Google Drive emphatically does not. (Which is part of why we don’t recommend Google Drive for live Scrivener projects.) So we’d have to either build our own cloud or figure out how to bolt that functionality onto someone else’s. Either would be a monumental undertaking.

And, this being the internet, things will still go wrong. If you close your laptop and walk away from your internet connection when there are unsynchronized changes, there is no software on earth that will transfer your data to the server. Having promised real time collaboration, we would have to support it, and we would have to help users recover when the worst case scenario happened. (As it inevitably will.) The support challenge is at least as significant as the underlying technical challenge.

Oh. And even if we did all that, it still wouldn’t remove the potential for synchronization issues. Why not? Because we have no intention of creating a tool that requires an internet connection to use it, and so it would still be possible for someone to write 10,000 words while floating on a raft in Bora Bora, those words still wouldn’t be accessible to other devices until the author re-connected to the internet, and collaborators could still go off in a completely incompatible direction in the meantime.