Using Scrivener Mostly For Markdown/HTML

I mostly write (professionally) in HTML or in Markup. So a few years ago I bailed out of Scrivener v1 and went whole-hog into BBedit, so I could make use of its powerful text editing tools.

The big problem with BBedit is its utter lack of file management/organization. Worse, they recently added auto-save of unsaved documents. This has made me very lazy. I currently have open (not kidding) 400 documents, mostly untitled and unsaved. It’s a mess. I can’t live like this.

So I just upgraded to Scrivener 2, and will migrate in all these works-in-progress and take care of long-deferred housekeeping. But I could use help with four things:

  1. I’m still going to spend a LOT of time passing text to/from BBedit (for grep search. HTML toolsets, scripting, etc.). I could use help/advice re: tools and workflows to make BBedit more easily available to/from Scrivener. If you, too, are using Scrivener for doc management in tandem with BBedit for hardcore editing, I’d love to hear from you (and/or be pointed to anything you’ve written on the topic).

  2. Any suggestions for hardcore markdown/html use of Scrivener, e.g. using it in conjunction with Marked to view browser result on-the-fly?

  3. I don’t do screenwriting. I don’t write novels. I don’t write academically, so I rarely use annotations or footnotes. I don’t use “cards”. I don’t want or need much of the functionality of Scrivener - e.g. the highly specialized tools. I mostly want to use Scrivener for its organizational power. There are surely others like me. Are there any existing articles/tutorials out there helping people like me avoid feeling overwhelmed by the large feature set?

  4. One problem I used to experience with Scrivener was that copy/pasting in and out of the app would change the styles (true of any word processor). Over time, each doc would build up unpredictable formatting. Is there a quick/easy way to make docs revert to my default style/formatting settings? Thing is, I almost never apply font/tab/spacing styles anymore … again, I’m mostly using Markup. I can’t remember the last time a writing job called for submission of a formatted word processor doc (in fact, I can’t remember the last time I italicized something!). So: how can I make Scrivener act less like a word processor and more like a text editor, and make my docs more uniformly formatted? Is there a way to, for example, select all text and apply a keystroke to make it all appear per my default config?

thanks all

Filthy Hack

  1. I don’t use BBEdit, but the principle is the same for everything these days, copy and paste. There used to be better ways of doing this, but they’ve been weeded out of the OS. One thing worth mentioning is that Scrivener has regular expression search support at all levels. In Document search, it is in the drop-down with options like “Contains”, “Ends with”. In Project Search, in the magnifying glass icon menu along with the other options. So, that’s one less thing to go to a text editor for, anyway.
  2. works pretty well for showing you the contents of your Draft folder. It polls the data folder for file system updates and reloads the section of text that changed—so whenever Scrivener auto-saves you should see the change appear in the background (I find the Scroll to first edit option in Marked useful, given how I tend to jump around in Scrivener quite a bit). I don’t really use much by way of interesting techniques though. For the most part I just write in Markdown right in Scrivener (I let it handle images, footnotes and titles). I’ll sometimes pull a piece of text out into an external editor if there is a tricky spot (like a table), but that’s pretty rare, as I don’t like losing cross-reference links and so on. Keeping it simple is part of why I like working with markup instead of rich text stuff. Like you want to go for, I mainly use Scrivener like a bit huge plain-text notebook program.
  3. There have been a few threads around here discussing Scrivener’s uses when engaged primarily as an organisation tool; it would be worth searching in the tips and usage forums. It’s kind hard to say though, there is so much to that side of Scrivener (the stuff that is just for screenwriters, academics or what have you, does not comprise much of the software really—most of it is the raw organisation power and the interface for getting around within it), and much of these conversations get folded into others, such as this recent thread about organising 200 or more articles per year.
  4. Just paste using Edit/Paste and Match Style (Shift-Opt-Cmd-V) instead of rich text paste. Normally that won’t happen copying out of a plain-text editor, but if you’re copying from stuff like the Web, then yeah, things can get messy. More tips in the knowledge base, including the command that can batch clean-up existing documents: Documents/Convert/Convert Formatting to Default Text Style.