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Becoming obsessed with the idea of a mac

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Posted by Graham Smith
Nov 24, 2007 at 09:29 AM



prompted out my period of lurking (I’ve been ill and moved house, and not really had the time for a while)

>It isn’t hard to make an a priori case that Scrivener cannot be so great.

As a great fan of Brainstorm and Zoot (and Ecco in the past) Scrivener is doing something very different, and I haven’t come across anything on the Mac that is as good as Brainstorm and Zoot in terms of manipulating outlines or managing data.

For users into the sophisticated use of Outliners (as I presume many in this forum are) then Scrivener would be a disappointment. Nor is it much use as data repository, hence the many discussions on the Scrivener forum about DevonThink and TinderBox plus other programs such as EagleFiler. And again from the forum content there is an assumption that the Scrivener content will be moved to a word processor for finishing off.

I am not a sophisticated user of outlines, finding that I tend to spend time with a mindmap to get the key ideas sorted out, then move to an outline to expand some of the text. The structure by that time is fairly fixed in my mind and I then tend to expand the document in a linear manner.

The cork board in Scrivener woks well for me as I can fill in the 3x5 cards in a random fashion with each card representing a key idea then shuffle them around to change the order. These are then linked to each outline heading and I can add notes, and use them as reference while writing.  i can add body text and and move the outline around either via the cards or the outline view.  There are also some tools to tag parts of the outline so you pull all the outline that refers to the same topic together to check for duplication or inconsistencies. Plus several tools of this sort which I am still learning.

Scrivener also handles graphics well and this is important to me as so much of my writing tends to centre around graphs from statistical analysis.

For me, it seems to have struck the right balance of capabilities to make it one of my favourite programs and I have added it to my small list (Brainstorm,  Zoot and Ecco) of the best programs I have ever used. Certainly in terms of a “writing” tool its the best I have ever used.

DevonThink, which I also bought when I acquired my first Mac a few months ago,  is proving potentially useful, but I am finding it clunky and complicated. Hopefully this will improve as I find the time to learn it. As with Windows where I never managed to find anything as good as Zoot, I fear the same is true for the Mac.

From my explorations so far, anyone using Brainstorm or/and Zoot will not find full replacements on the Mac. Of course it is always possible to run these on the Mac using Parallels, and I am running a few Windows only programs using Parallels.

>I have a
>speculation as to why programming on the Mac seems more fertile than on Windows. Apple
>has never had any concern with backward compatibility. Mac OS X left OS 9 programs
>completely unusable. The huge waste concerned Apple not in the least. Windows, on the
>other hand, carries the burden of maintaining backward compatibility with Windows
>98 - or is it 95? Anyway, it goes back through a number of major revisions. I imagine
>backward compatibility imposes a considerable burden on programmers, who must
>incorporate all the workarounds that allow the program to work on earlier versions of

I am not sure about this burden, I was forced to upgrade from Windows 98SE, to Windows 2000, and then to Windows XP, simply because several programs I use could not be run on the earlier versions. It is also reasonably common to see an older version of a Windows program still being available for download (but no longer supported) for people using older versions of Windows. Indeed something I have also seen with the Mac, where the OS9 version is still available but no longer being developed or supported.