Trying to figure out an Android/Scrivener workflow

Hi folks,

I am trying to figure out a feasible workflow for writing and editing my Scrivener content on Android devices.
What I have come up with so far, with issues, is this:

  1. Set up folder syncing
  2. Sync using .fountain format, so that I can edit in a plain text editor on Android AND use Markdown to apply some basic formatting (headings, bullets, numbered lists, bold, italic).
  3. Edit / create documents on Android using an editor that supports storing files in any folder (i.e. the folder I am syncing my Scrivener export folder with)
  4. Have the documents import back into Scrivener.

As first I thought this was going to give me exactly what I was wanting. But I have now investigated what Scrivener does with Fountain files when importing them via the sync feature. It basically strips out ALL the Markdown characters. It’s not that it simply doesn’t parse them, it strips them out. Meaning I can’t even have some other tool do something with the Markdown elements.

Is there a logical reason for it doing this?

I have done some research into Fountain (I didn’t really know what it was, but used it because it seemed to be the only Markdown-related format Scrivener supports in the folder sync settings). And I see it handles some elements very differently from MultiMarkdown. For instance, # ## and ### are not used to denote heading levels, but instead indicate Acts, Sequences, and Scenes (in a script).

So I have now experimented with important Fountain files and mmd files, etc., through the Import feature in Scriv. That, at least, does something with the #, ##, and ### elements, and does not strip them out in the process. It uses them to break the document down into multiple Scriv files. Not what I wanted, but at least it indicates Scriv has the capacity to parse these elements in some way, and to not just ignore them or strip them out entirely.

So I have a few questions I would appreciate some info and insights on:

  1. Why does Scriv handle Fountain files differently depending on whether they are Imported or Synced? Why in one case does it strip out all markdown elements, and in the other case parse them in a meaningful way and leave them in tact?

  2. Since Scriv has the means to import MultiMarkdown, why does it not parse it according to MultiMarkdown syntax? Why does it break documents up based on the #, ##, and ### elements and not render H1, H2, and H3 heading styles?

  3. Since Scriv supports MultiMarkdown as an import format, what’s the reason it doesn’t support this format via the sync system? Is this likely to be added in?

3.1) Is there documentation on the Scrivener support for MultiMarkdown, outlining which syntax elements it supports (if not all of them), and which it does not?

  1. Since Fountain is designed specifically for playwriting, I now realise it’s not the format for me to use. I am better using MultiMarkdown. Yet as far as I can tell (please correct me if I am wrong) Scriv has unusual and incomplete support for MMD. So that leaves me with plain text (not a solution, as I need at least some formatting capacity), or RTF. This is not ideal though, because on tablets it is much easier if one does not have to interact with the interface in order to apply formatting. MMD avoids that entirely, and I can just leave my hands on the external keyboard I use.

4.1) Can any Android users suggest a decent RTF editor that supports writing to any folder in Android and supports keyboard shortcuts for bold, italic, and head levels? I suspect most will support Ctrl-B and -I for the first two, but heading levels might be harder to do.

4.2) Does anyone reading this had suggestions on another way to go about this? Another way to have easy synchronisation, with basic formatting, between Scriv on Mac and a decent MMD editor on Android?

4.3) Is there a way, which I am overlooking, to import MultiMarkdown files (.mmd, for instance) and NOT have the headings split the file into multiple documents? I realise I can merge the many documents back together again, but is there a way to prevent the splitting entirely?

Thank you for any time spent considering these thoughts and questions. :smiley:


I use the folder sync feature with MultiMarkdown all of the time and I don’t have any complaints with it. I use plain-text format and set the extension to “.md” or whatever. Since Markdown is already plain-text, no matter where you write it, you don’t need and special processing or conversion. That’s one big point of the format, it can ride through all kinds of software without mutating, you don’t need to do anything special to import a text file with some extra punctuation marks in it. :slight_smile:

Maybe I don’t understand what you are driving for though.

I don’t see it said what you’re looking for, but if you just wanted to import the text raw without any sub-divisioning, then drag the file into the Binder (you may need to add your preferred Markdown extension to the Plain Text Import Types list, in Import/Export preferences). The special File/Import/MultiMarkdown File… command is just for splitting it up into an outline based on the header hierarchy, there is no other purpose and nothing else it does.

Being able to export and import chunks of outline like that can be useful for some people. Consider if you write in very small chunks in Scrivener, file sync might be hard to navigate with hundreds of files on a phone. Maybe it would be easier to compile out with MMD headers, edit as a single larger file, then import the outline back into the right portion of the Draft, replacing the old sections with the revised sections. It just gives you options.

So you mean it would split up by any headers it found within the synced files? I think that would be kind of awkward, and it assumes people always want outline generated from their type in headers. The software otherwise makes no such assumptions. You can use your own headers, have the compiler generate all of them for you, or even use a mix.

I think it’s fine the way it is. If you want to have Scrivener create three sections on sync then create three text files in the sync folder. Scrivener will import them sequentially. Or just wait and split the document up yourself after syncing.

The chapter on MultiMarkdown (22) in the user manual PDF is what you’re looking for. I’d say you can skip to §22.4, skipping the “What is Markdown” stuff.

Can you just write MMD in the Android RTF editor too, like you do in Scrivener? That’s something I’ve considered doing, but never really found an RTF editor that could sway me from my favourite plain-text editors.

Hi Amber,

Thank you for patiently responding to my (in retrospect) somewhat confused message. I can see I posted too soon… before I had put sufficient time into really getting my head around what’s what, with regards to Scrivener and how it handles MMD, MD, Fountain, etc., and also regarding MD and MMD itself.

After further experimentation… this is what I seek clarification on:

  1. I suspect I wrongly assumed there was a way to work within Scrivener in its format (RTF), and to sync with an external folder in another format, with Scrivener doing the necessary conversion in BOTH directions. E.g. If I have a document in Scriv in which there are Headings and inline comments and inline footnotes, these would be converted to their Markdown or Multimarkdown equivalents when the Folder Sync generates the files. And vice versa, these would be rendered back into RTF formating when those files are synced back into Scriv.

I am now understanding this is not the idea with the Sync. It seems I was trying to have the best of both worlds… Markdown within my Android app, and RTF within Scrivener.

Thanks for explaining that. It makes more sense to me now.

3) …
Actually, all my other points are mute. Now that I understand Scriv will not convert MMD files into RTF for viewing and editing within Scriv, it clears up a lot of the confusion that arose in my many attempts to get it to do that. :slight_smile:

Actually, it was the lack of decent (in my opinion, at the time) RTF editor in Android that moved me toward working in Markdown on that platform. There are some rather beautiful and functional MD editors and project file managers on Android.

So to clarify something… I’ve never worked in Scrivener using MD or MMD. I’ve always used its native rich text. But then when I went to sync out to MMD/MD I got a little freaked when the sync back into Scrv was not pretty any more. Just plain text. :cry: I assumed it was because I was doing something the wrong way. Now I know that’s how Scrv is designed to do things.

In this investigative process, I did discover an excellent RTF editor in Android. What’s more it has 100% keyboard shortcut support. So, writing with an external keyboard, one doesn’t have to touch the screen for anything. Headings, quote, indents… (essentially all formatting), and saving, opening, etc., can all be done via the keyboard. It’s called TextMaker HD. It’s the exact equivalent of a full blown desktop word processor. Perhaps that’s an RTF editor you’ll find useful.

:bulb: What I am currently working on, with help from a friend, is a way to automatically convert files between RTF and MD, bi-directionally. As a way to have the aforementioned “best of both worlds” I was trying to get Scrivener to provide. I’ll know soon if it works. It’s along the lines of what another user posted as his workaround for the same “issue” (or “want”). Just more automated.

It’s all right, Scrivener is perhaps a little different because its use of MultiMarkdown predates Markdown’s popularity. The idea was to give people who like writing in that format a comfortable and powerful place to work, mostly ignoring the rich text aspect of the software. As has been said elsewhere though, this most likely won’t always be the case. I can’t really be precise about it yet, but the software may evolve into working more like you were assuming it did—not as a replacement for the current workflow, but as a way for those who aren’t as enthusiastic about writing in Markdown everywhere, a way to access some of its special formats, like super clean HTML and ePub files, LaTeX and so forth.

It is very much the same on iOS, in large part because for years the platform only provided a plain-text coding kit. If a developer wanted to provide RTF, they would have make an editor from scratch, and that is an enormous job to do well. My guess is, unless you are Apple or something, if you spend all of your time making an RTF parser, you don’t have as much time left for making a cool program around that. That’s at least been my observation.

Until Scrivener has more along these lines, you may find a utility that does that. The main difficulty with that process is that basic RTF is not semantic, all formatting is just “painted on”, so who’s to say what a “block quote” is in terms of purely logical software. Even with a much more complicated parser that can handle stylesheets (mainly restricted to big word processors) that may be difficult, what if there are two block quote styles?

I’m not saying it’s impossible (we’re working on it after all!), but it isn’t very straightforward because these two systems work to produce documents from completely different angles.

Well, here’s to hoping you find a good combination of tools. :slight_smile:

Thank you for all the information and discussion Amber.

Regarding the automated bi-directional conversion between MD / RTF, so far it’s working very well, so far. The part where the process comes unstuck is that going from RTF to MD the headings are all converted into standard bold text. Going from MD to RTF they don’t maintain any kind of “style” (like ‘Heading 1’, or H1), but they do at least maintain formatting representative of their original heading level. Otherwise, basically, what I have is two folders. One is the RTF folder, which Scrivener syncs to. The other is an MD folder, which my applet automatically populates with MD versions of the RTF files. When files in either folder change, the applet does a conversion of that changed file into the other format. The MD folder automatically syncs to my Android (using Bittorent Sync, in my case). If I change a file on the Android (or create a new file) it will automatically sync to the MD folder on the computer, which will automatically convert to an RTF version in the folder Scrivener syncs with.

We might figure out a way to preserve the heading levels. Will keep you, and the forum, posted.