Using static links instead of aliases

I’m also using the Import as Reference/Aliases function now. And it’s a bit painful.
I use most of my Research in the Scrivener Bundle, but there are videos that I rather keep as Alias, because it would mean the projects would become 10GB large, and it would make stuff difficult with Dropbox.

Now I work on my laptop on the projects from Dropbox. On the iMac I have the full folders with also those movie files. The fact that Scrivener doesn’t annoy you with the fact that some files are off-line, but reconnects easily once you work back on my iMac is nice. BUT… It’s crazy that there is no relink option!

I’ll explain. I made this Scrivener projects with links on the laptop with an external drive. I come at the iMac, copy it, where btw the same folder structure of the project resides, but the files show off-line.
The Scrivener manual explains that if you work on another computer, files need to be relinked. That’s okay. But the problem is that there is no automatic way to do this. You have to re-import them again as Aliases from the beginning.

Scrivener should do something like Final Cut Pro 7/X: you have a simple re-link command. It can show you the files that are off-line. You go to a relink-menu, point to a new folder (ideally your master-project folder, that has your files in subfolders), and it finds all files again, automatically. Then it would take a couple of clicks instead of a lot of re-dragging.

BTW: you can select in the FCPX Preferences if you want FCPX to copy the files you import, or reference to them. You then also can go to an Import menu, where you can override that option. Which is nice if you want to work with certain folders external and keep other ones internal.
Then on top of that, FCPX also has some Consolidate features, that can move all files external that are internal, or vice versa. It’s a great way of working and it would be awesome of Scrivener could copy it, and when doing that, keeping the folder structure that you have in the Binder.
If it’s of interest to the Scrivener developers, I can explain it to them in detail how FCPX does it, or show them tutorials that explain it.

I’ve split your post off to a new thread since linking was only a tangent in the other thread.

On using aliases instead of static path-based links, there are pros and cons either way. One of the cons of aliases is what you are pointing out: they are primarily tools for working on your computer, not two or more. On your computer however, they are superior to static links in just about every way since you never have to worry about where the file is or what it is named after you link it. Change so much as a single letter in a statically linked document and you have to go in and fix the link. In fact that method doesn’t often even work well with Dropbox since full paths to a PDF may not be the same on two different machines, thanks to account names being a part of the path.

If you really want to use static links though, go for it. Symbolic links are an OS level feature and work fine with Scrivener in my experience. There isn’t a batch re-link command, but you don’t need one if you set up your systems to use a universal path to resources you’ve linked to. A setup as simple as an external drive can give you that stability, or a DMG, shared on Dropbox, that you mount on your Mac prior to working. That will avoid the problems with account names referred to above.

By the way you can fix individual aliases using Finder’s Get Info panel, on the aliases themselves within the project package, but I’m not aware of any method for third-party software to do that, let alone in bulk. Fixing broken aliases in Finder is only something you’d want to do on occasion, not as part of your switching to a different computer checklist.

We chose this method because it is easy to learn and use for the majority of people interested in it. The cons impact a minority, but if we swapped things around for a production environment style approach like Final Cut or InDesign, then we’d end up with a system that works great for a minority but is overly complicated and fragile, for the majority.

Hi AmberV,

thank you for taking the time to reply.

Do you know how Final Cut Pro X works with it? FCPX works differently than FCP7. The new Final Cut (since 2011) is also that if you change a file’s path on the same drive, or the name, it still finds the file perfectly. (this wasn’t the case in the old Final Cut Pro 7, from 2009). And the software still has a relink-feature. Where if it looses the links (because you changed drives), you can relink easily by just going to the right folder, or even just point to the drive, and it will search within that drive to the right files. With 2 clicks.
Wouldn’t this be interesting, to put into a GUI?
It would sound like if Scrivener has a small menu that worked the same as FCPX, it kind of has best of both worlds.

I have no idea what Final Cut Pro X does at a technical level, I’m just talking about the tools we have available to work with. :slight_smile:

As mentioned in the prior post, I’m not aware of any way to batch change a bunch of aliases to point to a different volume or folder, and I’ve never heard a tool that can do such a thing. I’m not saying that fixing links in one command would be uninteresting, or a bad idea—I’m saying we don’t have a good way of doing that and we don’t want to switch to static links, where we could do that, because those come with significant side-effects that those outside of a production environment would not be accustomed to having to work around.

Hi Amber,

if static links are like how FCP7 used to work, I absolutely agree it wouldn’t be a good option.
It’s very limiting.
I do think fixing links in one command, IF possible, would be great. (that was my original feature request :slight_smile:)

I don’t know how Apple is able to do it with FCPX. Maybe because they own both the OS and the software, they have some freedom that other developers don’t have.
But I think it’s interesting comparison for you guys to check out, because it has the same philosophy as Scrivener in the sense that you can choose to copy your media into the library (like Scrivener does standardly if you drag stuf into the Research folder) or external files with simlinks (like the Import as Aliasses option in Scrivener). Like a .scriv project, a .fcpx file is a bundle that the system reads like one file. Maybe if you guys could look under the hood of a FCPX project, you could see how FCPX does it to have that relink-feature in combination with the aliasses instead of static links.

I can imagine this not interesting you, but if it somehow does (to think about what’s possible or not in the future for Scrivener), you can find more information in this video, that explains the system:

They didn’t make a relink tutorial, but it’s a window in which you can search files one by one. You can just point to a new drive and it will scan it for you. You can do the same with a folder. Etc. …
This hard link example is something that seems a bit magic, or weird, and maybe one of these things that Apple can do because they control both the OS and the software. Because to have this feature, you needed the newest version of Mavericks at the time.

Anyhow. Maybe it’s of some interest, maybe not :slight_smile:

Kind regards,