What about the iPhone?

To respond to some of the iPhone comments…

I’m sure there are people out there who have used their cheque books as a makeshift jotting pads on occasions, but that in itself is not a reason for banks to start issuing them in size A4 (ruled).

Is a phone a writing tool, well, yes; and I’ve tapped in a nail with the end of a screwdriver before now. Is a screwdriver a good hammer? No.
Is a phone a good writing tool? I would say not.

If a universal app could be created with no grief, then great; but if an iPad Scrivener app had to be compromised to make it iPhone friendly, then I think that would be a shame.

Are you talking about TextExpander? I have the app, but haven’t taken full advantage of it yet. I’m also a touch-typist (for many decades, and it still seems magical to me), but I’m not sure how much it helps me on my Touch. Probably more than I realize!

I agree that the Scrivener app shouldn’t be compromised for the sake of a less-powerful device. But as it’s intended for all iOS devices, I just wanted to clear up any misconception that the iPod Touch isn’t used by some for lengthy writing tasks—that was the reason for my original post.

My Touch is not my primary writing tool, so it doesn’t need to be Scrivener HD. But when I don’t have access to my desktop Mac, I still want to be able to make the most of this indispensable program when my creative juices are bubbling. With the right apps and a skilled user, the Touch can be a very impressive hammer, even if it’s not an industrial-strength one.

That is most certainly not going to happen.

And while a lone iPhone is not as competent for text input as a lone iPad which in turn is not as competent for text input as when using a keyboard with additional feedback, that does not mean an iPhone is an inappropriate note taking device.

Some people’s notes will be short, but for others they may be much longer.

So don’t worry, we’re not going to compromise one version for the sake of the other.

Probably there are people who write long notes with the phone but I think they are very few.

I think that a phone is not a good writing tool, it’s only good for writing short notes and today there are many others applications to take notes with the phone.

Thanks, Jenny! Judging by Scrivener’s track record so far, I’m sure we’ll all be delighted with the results, whatever our devices.

It surprises me when I see people claim that the iPhone/Touch is not a good writing tool. I write easily and extensively with mine, and so does cdyard. If you can’t do that, or don’t want to, or have never tried, that’s fine. But to use the hammer metaphor again, just because you regularly whack your thumb with one doesn’t make it a bad tool.

Because I don’t own a laptop or an iPad (yet), I’ve learned to do a slew of things that I previously would have thought impossible on such a small screen, including drawing, painting, and creating and editing multi-instrument musical compositions. It’s surprising how quickly you become comfortable and even agile with that tiny workspace when apps are skillfully designed.

To me, the issue is more about UI and optimizing screen real estate, just as it is with those other types of apps I use—many of which were expertly adapted from larger desktop programs by designers who are able to make iPhone and iPad versions that are equally wonderful. I have complete confidence that Keith has chosen someone who can do the same with Scrivener.

Thanks for listening to our rants, Jenny. Now get back to your magic!

It’s funny, as I think 90% of people will agree with you, and then in contrast there are apps like iA writer that have a focus mode to specifically restrict the window into your work.

I put it forward that an iPhone & external keyboard can be as an effective writing tool as combinations with larger screens. Who remembers word processors with single / dual line displays?

Would I write on an iPhone at my desk if I had my normal computer with me? No. But I don’t take my laptop everywhere, I take my iPad most places… My phone goes everywhere with me.

Isn’t the most appropriate tool the one you have with you rather than the one that’s somewhere else entirely?

I couldn’t agree more. My iPod Touch is always with me … in fact, I need to buy a waterproof case for my canoeing excursions.

Do I remember single/dual-line word processor displays? Heck, I used to write essays on a manual typewriter, which makes the Touch look like a Cray. I remember when the most thrilling innovation was Liquid Paper!

Mmm. Slightly moving the goalposts here. I’ve got no issue with a small writing window as such. In my time I’ve owned Visors and Palm Pilots with external keyboards and have done a lot of work with them, but I wouldn’t have dreamed of using them in the same way without a keyboard.

Trying to find a way to fit some Scrivener features (such as split screen, scratch pad corkboard, etc) to a small window would, I think, be challenging.

I don’t think that follows. If you were desperate enough you could jot down something on anything, but would that make it ‘appropriate’?

Anyhoo I’ll wish you all the best in creating a universal app.

I must say this: I use the iPhone for writing a LOT and with the internal (virtual) keyboard only. The iPhone is easy to keep in hand and typing with the thumbs can be done really fast.
In fact, there are times when I’m fed up with writing (or rewriting, editing and correcting). I swear I’ll stop writing but then, usually at night, in my bed, I’ve got an idea and… here comes the iPhone and next thing I know, I’m writing, writing and writing.
So, yes, I’d love to have Scrivener for the iPhone. It would be easier to synchronise with Scrivener for Windows.


Can we please get this thread back on topic and end the debate about whether the iPhone is an effective writing tool? The debate could equally apply to the iPad - personally, I don’t find the iPad a very efficient or good writing tool; my MacBook Air is just as portable and is much, much better for writing. I have an iPhone, two iPads, a MacBook Air and a Mac Pro. I barely ever use those iPads because they are just clunky as hell for writing, in my opinion. My MacBook Air goes everywhere with me, and is perfect for writing; if I’m not traveling, then the Mac Pro is even better, its 27" screen allowing me to view much more information and see more writing on screen, to have more QuickRef panels open if necessary and so on. But if I’m in bed and night and an idea strikes, then I reach for my iPhone… So, personally, I’m much more excited about an iPhone version than an iPad version.

Jennifer, however, uses her iPad for writing. I may think that’s crazy, but that’s why she’s the one developing Scrivener for the iPad. :slight_smile: So, let’s just accept that everyone has a different opinion about what makes a good or poor writing tool, and let this thread get back on track to discussing what features should go into the iPhone version. Because we are developing both. And a universal app does not mean compromising the iPad version. It is entirely possible to develop a universal app that works very differently on both platforms, I believe - and although we are keen on a universal app, we never said anywhere for sure that there wouldn’t be two separate apps; we are, after all, still in the design stages.

So, to return this thread to its scheduled programming: what would iPhone users like to see in an iPhone version?

Here’s my own wish list: a single-screen binder as the navigation point for everything else, which could also have synopses, labels and status shown or hidden; some way of only viewing parts of the binder (hoist); a rich text editor to create new notes or edit existing ones; a corkboard view for folders for rearranging things and editing synopses. That’s about all I’d personally need.

All the best,

Hello everyone,

First of all I want to say that I am tremendously excited with the prospect of a Scrivener version on the iPhone. Scrivener is simply an outstanding software for writers on the Mac, and even though there are workarounds and solutions I have always secretly wished I could do some quick edits and brainstorming on my iPhone while on the go natively on Scrivener.

I agree with Keith’s wish list and the idea of a fullscreen binder as the main view, that would be perfect to look at glance at a whole project and organize stuff. The rich editor engine is also a major requirement for sure. However, something that Keith didn’t mention and that I would definitely need would be the option to go inside each document/text file in the binder and being able to edit it, and not just the notes. This would be the very reason why Scrivener on the iPhone would be so productive for me, as clearly the iPhone is not a writing/production device, but it’s an outstanding piece of equipment to collect ideas and brainstorm. It happens often for me to get an idea to change a specific sentence I wrote a few days before, or to add a certain thought in a specific position of the text, without being close to my laptop. This would require me having access to each text document inside the binder in order to edit it as ideas came to mind. Certainly I wouldn’t be writing a whole novel while on the iPhone, but it could become very productive to make small edits, changes or simply reading for the purposes of reviewing while on the iPhone. Actually I can see myself checking up and reading bits of text from different documents within the project in the iPhone just to organize ideas in my head or to develop further concepts. Would be really great.
Will this be possible to do on the iPhone version of Scrivener?

Also, seeing/opening the image documents in the Research folder would be a nice detail, but clearly my main wish is text editing capabilities of the full text documents within the binder.

I hope my wish made some sense to you and please keep up the great work. You guys make any writer’s life easier!


I’d like the following things:

Binder view showing:- Title

  • Icons (ie folder vs text vs picture)
  • Icons to show Label colours
  • Indication of heirarchy

Eg, this bit of the normal window:
I would personally use this view (the Binder) to use to move files around. It would also need a “new file” button.

“Corkboard” view:
The corkboard view can be a single card for me for the iphone, eg:
I don’t need a ‘full’ corkboard on the iPhone, just the index card. (I’d use the binder to move files around). You could then navigate around the cards by sweeping left or right to go to the previous or next card, and up or down to go up or down a layer. Usual tap locations to edit synopsis or go into the editor.
I’d be keen to have the visual indication whether the card is a single card or a stack as shown, as well as the hints that there are more cards to the left and right (if appropriate).
I’d like to have access to the project notes as well from the inspector pane, but I’d only want access to it in this ‘index card’ mode.

Editor view:
Honestly, I’m not going to need much here. A plain window showing my text is fine.
Perhaps something like - landscape = edit mode (with a large keyboard and a small text window) and portrait = review mode (pure text).

Screen furniture:
As minimal as possible - Just an icon in the corner that calls up a larger menu to switch between the binder, index and editor windows?

Other things:
I really am in two minds about things like keywords and references panes. On the one hand, this sort of ‘admin’ is exactly the sort of thing I’m more likely to do on the run (ie on a train away from my laptop) rather than writing proper. On the other hand, knowing me there’s a good chance that this is the sort of thing I’d wait until I was on a laptop to do because it will be be less fiddly - if for no other reason than screen size.

Those using Dropbox who’re concerned about having what they’re writing stolen or damaged if their Mac laptop or, in the future, iPad/iPhone gets swiped might want to look at an idea suggested on the Dropbox forum:


Remote wiping is apparently in Dropbox’s wish list, but until that happens this is a work around that avoids all the hassles of encryption and passwords. You do have to get back to your home/office computer to activate it, but once activated, it should work quite quickly.

I, like everyone else here, have been waiting with bated breath for an iOS version of Scrivener. I think between your own thoughts, and everyone else’s suggestions here, you’ll come up with a mighty serviceable app. I only have a couple of requests:

  1. syncing is the most important thing. For 90% of people, this will not be the primary platform for creation, but rather a stop gap for when they can not be near their computers. If they can not move back and forth seamlessly, without having to worry about odd duplicates, or strange version discrepancies, then it will be pretty useless.
  2. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, regardless of how many different sections you include (corkboard, binder, inspector, etc) PLEASE,…make the actual writing interface clean and simple. (Think Writeroom) It might be ok to include an extra row that the user can configure to add commonly used characters, but please make this optional. When it comes to writing, the less clutter, the better.


Great to have this topic open to suggestions!

I like the idea of having a structured document and I think it could be achieved with the table view that is already available in iOS.

Let me quote a very interesting comment in this line made by W.A. Wood:
"How to make engineers write concisely with sentences? By combining journalism with the technical report format. In a newspaper article, the paragraphs are ordered by importance, so that the reader can stop reading the article at whatever point they lose interest, knowing that the part they have read was more important than the part left unread.

State your message in one sentence. That is your title. Write one paragraph justifying the message. That is your abstract. Circle each phrase in the abstract that needs clarification or more context. Write a paragraph or two for each such phrase. That is the body of your report. Identify each sentence in the body that needs clarification and write a paragraph or two in the appendix. Include your contact information for readers who require further detail."
End quote.

This way of writing could be better achieved with hierarchical views, something the iPhone (and iPad) excel at.
The idea is to be able to have the main text divided into separate paragraphs with a header to state the idea covered by the paragraph (that would make one paragraph per header). Then each paragraph can have multiple sentences (eg. one sentence per row).

I am not so sure if the default table view allows such multiple-line headers and text labels.

It would be great to be able to scroll through a whole chapter in this manner. In the navigation bar you could, with a button to the left of the Title, go back to the outline of the document to add new chapters or to read/edit a different one.

The tricky part would be to customize the table view so as to be able to add new sentences specific to a certain header. One possibility would be to be able to tap on a header and go to a new view where you would edit just that part of the table, and so you have a hierarchical navigation…
As you see in the attachment the rows of the table view could be ordered at will.

I like the classic background (grey vertical stripes) - a prototype I made with Blueprint Lite for iPad.
I also like the size of the typeface, quite readable, a plus in such devices.
I was inspired by the app ‘Habits’ by Louis Franco (that’s not me!).

We already have a Writeroom type of app. I would like to have a different kind of tool, one appropiate for the kind of navigation panels/views that the iOS has and that allows structured texts to become a reality.

Congratulations on your efforts Jenny_Y8S and KB!

I realise development for the iPhone Scrivener is probably under way, and my comments can’t affect the basic structure of iPhone Scrivener, but I’ll comment anyway.

I see iPhone Scrivener to be a quick note taking tool where the writing is made directly into Scrivener rather than having to import.

Given the small iPhone screen, I can’t imagine iPad-Scrivener just scaling down. For instance, I would not want to have a cork-board facility. I think it’s ridiculous to move rectangles of notes around a corkboard on a 3" screen.

Here’s how I visualise iPhone Scrivener.

It’s a hydrid of the old iPod interface (where we used to use the clickwheel), and the recent iPhone todo app named “Clear”.

If you play around with Clear, the view of its todo list could represent the Binder. We can move items up and down the list.

In the Clear app, you can drag an item to the right. I’m only using this as a visual point - that this could be what a sub-heading in the Binder looks like. So we can double tap for a Binder item to reveal its sub headers.

Then, we can hold-down for each Binder item to reveal its text content.

As I see it, this is all the functionality we should aim for in an iPhone Scrivener.

Any more – e.g. trying to simulate the cork board on a 3" screen - is going to be zany.

Regarding the Inspector – once again, using the Clear app visual paradigm – the Inspector information could be accessed at the top level (blue in the Clear app).

Hence, I am concerned that making the iPhone/iPad into a universal app would render the corkboard iPhone app virtually unusable. For example, Jenny showed a screenshot of the iPad version. That, on an iPhone, would be unworkable. What’s the point of showing 2-3 pieces on a corkboard. I’d much rather the above Clear-app visual model, rather than feeling the need to be tied to the corkboard paradigm.

dl.dropbox.com/u/1844583/ScreenS … naiPad.png

In summary, if you download the Clear-app, that’s how Scrivener could function, except that each item can be clicked to reveal a text-edit page.

Note: I’m just using the Clear-app as an illustration. I’m not saying to directly copy it, since that might provoke copyright infringement - but rather to simplify iPhone-Scrivener to a moveable list that fits on the 3" screen, where we can expand each item to add text. In other words, dispense with the centre corkboard, and mainly just focus on the Binder.

I’m not a lawyer, so take this comment with a truckload of salt. As I understand it, given the Windows vs. Apple suit many years ago, “look and feel” cannot be copyrighted. So as long as the graphic representation is not a pixel-perfect copy, an “act-alike” program would be fine.

There seems to be some misunderstanding of what a universal app is here. Just because an iOS app is “universal”, that does not at all mean that it will look or work the same on both the iPad and iPhone. A universal app just bundles both versions into a single application; when you load a universal app on an iPhone, it runs the iPhone part of the code and interface; when you load it on an iPad, it runs the iPad variant. It’s no different than having a separate app for each platform, except that you only have to buy it once rather than separately for each platform. The only advantage to users for having a non-universal app is that if they only want the iPhone version, they can get it cheaper; the disadvantage is that if an iPad user buys the app, they will have to buy it separately if they want to use it for the iPhone too. (Incidentally, no final decision has been made yet on whether it will be universal or not. But my point is that whether it is universal or not has absolutely no effect on how it will scale to the different platforms; the interface will be tailored for each.)

The corkboard is still useful on the iPhone - I’ve used it - but of course you can’t use as many cards as you can on the iPad, and it is less useful for getting a large overview. One important thing to note, however, is that we are building Scrivener for iOS here, not an entirely different application; it will be a (very) pared down version of Scrivener with an interface designed to be optimal for the iPhone and iPad. And yes, we designed the interface differently for each platform.

All the best,

Excellent plan!