Track Changes

I would love to have a Track Changes feature like the one in Word.

I imagine that would not be the most simple thing to implement. But is a track changes feature anywhere on the development timeline?

Come to think of it… the way Word’s track changes system (the “balloon”-less, inline version) defines additions, deletions, and moved text as a type of styled text seems vaguely similar to how Scrivener defines inline notes as a text style.

There are two things we’ll be adding that will help with this:

  • Snapshot comparison: select a prior snapshot, click a button, and all of the changes between it and the current text will be highlighted—likewise two snapshots can be compared against each other. This technique will be augmented by an option that takes automatic snapshots whenever items have been altered past the last save point.
  • Revision levels: really just fancy text colours. Using standardised colours, and an editing mode that forces the selected colour wherever you type (or overstrike), you can easily see how things have changed, and can have colleagues using different revision levels to know who the edits came from.

Thanks. Am I correct that these would be new Scrivener-wide, on the Mac side as well?

Both of those sound very nice. They’re quite different, but nicely complimentary.

The second one in particular sounds very much like Track Changes, in its essence.

Track changes is one of the few editing functions in Word for which there is no practical rough equivalent in Scrivener, and that can make it worth copying from S to W, editing there with track changes, then copying back.

It’s nice being able to see two very different versions of a passage, effectively superimposed on each other, yet still easily differentiated, in realtime as you type and edit. (That’s the inline mode of track changes… balloon mode I don’t use much. I know people who hated Track Changes then fell in love with it when they learned how to turn off those distracting bubbles.)

The way track changes gives you non-sequential undo is pretty nifty, too. But then it’s not “undoing” anything in the traditional sense, but swapping styles and processing text based on the style’s meaning, within that Accept/Change context. But “non-sequential undo” is sexier. :slight_smile:

Actually, these are version 2 enhancements. But that means that there are examples, screen shots, and even videos showing how the features work, so you’ll know which ones are better suited to your method for working.

The revision mode colors don’t create struck-through text as you delete, FYI (though that would be a pretty neat feature). But if you highlight text and use the strike-through function, it does color the line.

Snapshots are your non-linear undo. If you use them religiously, before any editing of the section, then you can easily just click on that snapshot and copy and paste bits of it out of the sidebar to have your non-linear undo.

Snapshots are non-linear undo only in the most limited sense.

As implemented in Word, Track Changes is an inline, realtime, single-document editing system.

When turned on, Track Changes uses different user-definable character styles for text insertions, deletes, and moves, and will apply those styles dynamically as text is being edited, all within the same document, paragraph, sentence, word, or character. All text, including “deleted” text, remains visible, inline and in context, differentiated by style, and thus easily compared and tweaked. Those style-tagged edits can then be accepted or rejected, also non-linearly, also down to the character level, and persist as part of the text from one session to the next.

Compared to that, copying and pasting bits between two documents is non-linear undo in only the most literal sense of being independent of the receiving document’s undo queue, which itself exists only for the duration of a single open-close cycle.

No doubt, you could bring about the same end result with both methods, but then you could bring about the same results with pencil and pad, or quill and papyrus. :wink:

In the gif below, added text (and text that overwrites selected text) is in blue, and text that is deleted (including text that is deleted by overwriting) will remain in place on the page, displayed in a gray strikeout. Reading the two different versions is as simple as reading black + blue for the new version, and black + gray for the original.

There are no plans for introducing Track Changes into Scrivener, sorry. There’s a reason why it tends to be a feature only of the bigger, dedicated word processors - it is a huge undertaking that is complex and fragile, and it’s not something that I think we could do well at this time. It’s also a little out of scope for Scrivener, to be honest.

All the best,

Actually, it’d be interesting to be able to do a “diff” like a programmer would use, and have mini-diff snapshots for editors.

Workflow ->
I send my files to my editor
My editor makes changes
Those changes are snapshotted via a diff
The diff is returned
I can view the diff or the finished changes

This would be a broader track changes.

If we could share a dropbox folder and be alerted to file changes, and have diffs through that way, it’d be a great workflow on editing.

In fact, that’s exactly how it will work. :slight_smile:

I would really love if Scrivener had track change features like in Word. The thing I dislike the most is to abandon this great software because I cannot track-change revisions I make in colleagues pieces. For collaboration, that would be excellent. I know KB mentioned that this would involve a lot of effort. I’m just touching base to see whether this feature would come to Scrivener some day. Thank you.


And another nudge to see if anything’s changing in the foreseeable.

Like many users, I have to abandon Scrivener the moment my MS goes to my editor. Copy editing requires a series of back and forths as she makes changes and comments with suggestions for others. I make more changes by implementing her suggestions and she edits those. On it goes until there’s nothing left to comment on or change.

Word (as usual) is KILLING me with a 110,000 word MS. It’s so buggy, it’s a NIGHTMARE!

I would LOVE never to have to use that awful software again … and I could if Scrivener had Track Changes!!

I know, I know … I’m not holding my breath! :smiley: