Timeline-like synchronization between binder portions

DISCLAIMER: I’m posting this suggestion so as to get it out of my system. I recognize that it is likely too costly, complicated, overkill, and outside of or at odds with Scrivener’s direction. But I’ll rest easier, having posted it. I hope it is intelligible. Beware, this way lies madness…

SUGGESTION: Timeline-like synchronization between binder portions. Presumably between MANUSCRIPT and various other binder portions.

EXAMPLE: I’ve outlined a story arc and expanded/drafted it into a novel in the MANUSCRIPT portion of the binder. Upon reviewing, I conclude that I need to outline character arcs (in CHARACTERS or RESEARCH or some such other portion of the binder)… and that it would be helpful to not only create them alongside the MANUSCRIPT portion of the binder (already doable via side-by-side windows) but also be able to synchronize their items in a timeline-like manner with items in MANUSCRIPT.

Obviously, one can create character (and other) arcs elsewhere (CHARACTERS, RESEARCH, etc.) and can do so side-by-side with MANUSCRIPT, via side-by-side edit windows. But such will tend to be of various lengths/amount of detail and start/progress/end at various points relative to the contents of MANUSCRIPT.

One can do some of this via custom metadata columns in outliner view, but a given character’s arc items can be sufficiently spread out and different in hierarchy level and number from the MANUSCRIPT’s entirety of items so as to be difficult to conveniently view and deal with as a granular zoomable arc.

So, it seems it would be useful to be able to position and synchronize such arc components relative to MANUSCRIPT. And view them at various and differing degrees of zoom/granularity.

This might involve tieing specific arcs items to specific MANUSCRIPT items, though I suspect that would be a snarl to implement and maintain and be easy to break and corrupt.

Or perhaps all binder items could optionally be positioned/tied to some shared background timeline (perhaps a visible TIMELINE folder or timeline object somewhere in the binder outside of MANUSCRIPT).

When displayed side-by-side like this, it would be useful to have the options of seeing the two views synchronized (expanded as necessary via vertically spacing items to allow for their being placed side-by-side on a per item basis) and seeing them unsynchronized (compacted with no vertical white space padding).

I’m guessing this would prove complicated. A “bridge too far”. And quite possibly unneeded by experienced authors?

I’ve looked at Aeon Timeline, but it doesn’t give the vertical orientation and compactness that I need and get from Scrivener. The Aeon Timeline developer has mentioned adding some sort of outlining capability in the future.

And I’ve downloaded the Qt development tools, with the thought of seeing if I could rough up a proof of concept version of this. But appears to be way beyond me.

Anyway, thanks.

Scrivener rules!

Sorry for the late reply. I’m not entirely sure I understand the suggestion exactly, but it seems as though you would like to be able to order certain binder items (say those in the Draft folder) in a different way in a different area of the project - is that correct? So, say, you might have the Draft folder ordered one way, but a folder of chronological events in another? Is that the sort of thing that might be achieved using aliases in the binder (something that is suggested frequently and that I am considering adding)?

All the best,

No. Though what you describe seems useful, of interest, and robustly generalized. And likely more worth pursuing and more practical to implement.

What I’m trying to describe… putting aside Scrivener specifics for the moment and approaching generically…
Multiple hierarchical outlines, Example: Plot, Character A Arc, Character B Arc, …
Synchronized by a shared timeline or by cross-outline item to item links.
With the ability to display two or more of the outlines side by side.in synchronization.
With the side by side synchronized display dynamically adjusting for user changes to granularity/zoom on either side (via adding/removing vertical white space on sides as needed?) so that material remains visually syncrhonized,.

Scrivener specifics…
One of the outlines (example: Plot) might be the Draft/Mansuscript folder, with the others perhaps being folders within Research.
Shared timeline, if implemented, might be some out of sight mechanism behind the scenes. Or possibly something in a folder within Research, though if such were visible/accessable might prove problematic.

In this approach, only one of the outlines (Draft/Manuscript) contents would be for outputting as final work. The others would be for reference.

Hope the above makes some sense.Thanks.

My feeling has always been character and plot arcs are things which live at a level of abstraction well above the level of all the docs and folders that populate my binder. Which for me means it is something that wants to be done in a more schematic (and visual) environment. I think what we are talking about here is basically a kind of swimlane chart for authors.

So, not speaking to your Wish here, but speaking to the thing you wish to accomplish, you might check out this post by Scrivener user pigfender – for the part that shows how he uses Scapple to map out multiple plot (or character) arcs. I have included here a snapshot of the last frame of the video at the end of that blog post.


FWIW: More examples of implementation in Scapple. 1) a horizontal swimlane (which uses background texture to achieve the effect), and 2) a variant of swimlane chart which we might call “allswim” – like a horizontal swimlane chart but where vertical placement of nodes shows something about what is happening in each arc that you want to represent.

all best,

Thanks for the elaboration. The complexity of this idea really sounds as though it would require an app to be built from the ground up with these concepts at the core - not something that could easily be tacked on to Scrivener’s core feature set.

All the best,

Thanks GR. I’ll study that.

Thanks KB. I appreciate your consideration.