Which pure text editor ?

TextEdit can be flipped into “pure text” mode. It is an option in the Format menu, and once that is turned on it will act like a plain-text editor with no rulers and so forth. Anything you paste into it will automatically be stripped of all RTF codes and taken as pure text. When you save files, they will be saved by default as UTF-8 with LF newlines; standard UNIX. You can set up TextEdit to operate in this state by default in its Preferences. When it is set up this way, it is quite a bit more like Notepad, and I daresay a bit easier to use than Emacs. Though if you do prefer that editor, I am fairly sure that it comes installed on all OS X systems automatically.

The LaTeX export filter is no longer included in Open Office since 3.1. You can get the latest version here: http://sourceforge.net/projects/writer2latex/files/

Pity. This makes Open Office a lot less useful.

I found this 2009 post regarding lab manuals, LaTeX, MMD, and LyX all in one post. I am tasked with writing the technical user manuals for our High Tech products (not my real job) which is a massive project due to all the different combinantions of manuals needed depending on the user. Therefore, many individual manuals need to be written and then combined to provide a specific configuration. LaTeX was too complicated for me to learn so I have been using LyX with Success. However, I also was using Scrivener about the same time as LyX and am now rethinking going back to Scriverner for managing the Large Project. If you or anyone can share their experience with how to manage Technical writing that uses many images I am all ears and would love to buy you dinner.

While the Scrivener user manual is not technically speaking a technical document, it does make use of many of the same features one might need from one. So what I would suggest firstly is to download a copy of the source project and see how that is put together. What might be of interest to you is that with the exception of an image post-processing step (that could be fully automated if I chose to), this project is designed to be “one click”. The PDF you see in the Help menu comes “straight out of Scrivener” in the sense that I need only click the compile button. Yes, granted, Scrivener is orchestrating the conversion of MultiMarkdown into .tex and subsequently using LaTeX for the production of a PDF—but unless I need to go in and fix some wiring, I’m not myself too concerned with any of that for day to day edits.

As you’ll find from the source, writing with Markdown is fairly low-impact, perhaps even more so than writing with LyX. Styles handle much of the detailing for me, and so for the most part the syntax I do see in the editor is cross-reference markings. One could even go without those if they choose to use links as a production feature rather than a writing tool. I heavily prefer the latter, which is why I opt to leave link conversion off and put the square brackets around those links I want you the reader of the PDF to see.

To be fair, you wouldn’t be escaping the clutches of LaTeX by going that route. It’s something you will have to tangle with at least a little bit, unless you’re happy with the bog standard look that comes with some of our example compile formats. The user manual’s design is many hundreds of lines of preamble and took months to research and refine. Like I say though, that was something I only had to do once years ago (and in fact I used LyX a lot to “research” adjustments, by messing with settings there and then copying its code result to my preamble file).

That’s what it’s all about in my opinion, and what Scrivener excels at for this kind of work: pushing the design and production work to the beginning of the process so that future revisions and books created with this design involve minimal effort. It sounds to me like an approach that would be good for you, with multiple volumes planned. It might take an investment for that first one, but after that point you may even get things down to “one click” for subsequent volumes, at a level of quality that would take weeks of post-production work with traditional DTP.

Wow! This is great! Thank you so much for your insights. You have pointed me in a direction that I can really build upon. I have looked into MM and Pandoc and even corresponded with Fletcher Penny when inquiring about using MM on a PC. He suggested Scrivener. I will definitely put your suggestion to practice.
Question: Does it make sense to have multiple manuals in one project template? For example, if I have 10 manuals in my draft binder and want to compile a document using only 1,2,5,7, and 10; can I move 3,4, 6, 8, and 9 to another part of the file structure?
So instead of having multiple manuals, I have one master manual that I can rearrange however desired by moving them in and out of the draft section? Does that make sense?
Kind regards, - Jim

You’re welcome! Glad to be of help.

Question: Does it make sense to have multiple manuals in one project template? For example, if I have 10 manuals in my draft binder and want to compile a document using only 1,2,5,7, and 10; can I move 3,4, 6, 8, and 9 to another part of the file structure?

I would recommend searching the forum here for that question, as it is not one that is particular to any style of writing. It has more to do with the binder level structuring of how one works, than how you format text, or indeed even the content itself. As you can imagine, this comes up a fair bit, but broaden your search to include very similar concepts, such as whether it’s good to store a trilogy in one project, or an omnibus.

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Depending on why you want multiple manuals, the Scrivener manual project might offer some suggestions as well. The same base project is used for both the Mac and Windows versions, with different settings depending on the desired output.

To answer your original question, you can Compile any selection of documents from the Draft folder that you want. There’s no need to move things around, but you do need to be careful with Section Layouts and such to get pagination and section numbering right.

Thanks for responding. As a person just beginning to realize the power of Scrivener, and one that has the daunting task of writing manuals for our company (which is a full time job in and of itself), I am exploring possibiities on how to get organized. Our products have different combinations of assemblies that are configured according to the customer needs. Therefore, I need to be able to move asseblies in and out depending on the desired output. Your suggestion of being able to compile different combinations in the Draft Folder is helpful as well as the caution in doing so. Amber V was very helpful and also pointed me toward the Scrivener manual project, which I have done.
Take away: I am new to Scriverner and writing in general, with a lot to learn. Therefore, I will focus now on writing the one manual that is a priority now keeping it simple. It is really great to know that when I have questiions along the way there are people like you and Amber to help me along. Thanks for all your help! - Jim

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