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Becoming obsessed with the idea of a mac

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Posted by Hugh Pile
Nov 24, 2007 at 12:30 PM


Stephen R. Diamond wrote:
> >
>Hugh Pile wrote:
>>In my experience, Ecco and Zoot are as close to unique as
>you can get;
>>only Tinderbox on the Mac comes anywhere near as a “text-sippet
>>outliner”, and of course Tbx is not a PIM. But Scrivener is also
>unique; there is no
>>drafting tool on Windows to compete with it. I know - I’ve
>probably tried them
> >I don’t know about the usability of statements like the
>last sentence above. It seems to me that if a program is that great, it is easy enough to
>say why. Harder in some instances than others but never a formidable expository task.

Fair enough, Stephen.  My comment was insufficiently expository (and analytical) - though I felt in writing it that I’d already written enough about what I see as the virtues of Scrivener in previous threads here.

Almost needless to say, I do endorse all that Graham has to say about this application, both negative and positive. In addition, here are a couple of other positive points:

- the integration and useability of its Quicktime interface, split-screen and full-screen modes (respectively of use to transcribers, translators and procrastinators…)

- its import and export capabilities, into and out of MS Word, for example, preserving annotations and footnotes, which make “round-tripping” between Scr. and a word-processor possible (when dealing with editors, for example)

- little touches, like its semi-translucent scratch-pad, its snap-shot function (a simple type of versioning), its “heads-up display” of project and document notes and other meta-data, and its annotations in “ghost” mode (which dims the brightness of in-line annotations until your cursor hovers over them)

- the extent of the functionality of its user-interface - it’s quite common on its forums for someone to come up with a suggestion for change, only to discover the improvement is already embodied - this is particularly common with keyboard shortcuts, of which there’s an abundance

- the extent and detail of its documentation, which IME is very unusual for such a tool (help files, tutorial, large FAQ, video, forums) - compare, say, Zoot’s documentation, especially at a similar stage of maturity - the challenge for users is often not in finding that a particular function that they need doesn’t exist, but in finding the time to learn about it…

- the clarity of vision and responsiveness of its developer, who usually answers any issue within a few hours

No Windows drafting tool has all these features (plus those Graham has listed), and is at the same time stable to the point of trustworthiness for long-form documents. Even MS Word, which IME is very good for short-form writing and day-to-day document layout, has well-discussed question-marks over its stability when handling long documents. Scrivener does not have such question-marks.

A point about DevonThink. I agree with Chris: there are other ways of managing OCR’d PDFs on either the Windows or Mac platform that might be at least as useable and value-for-money as DevonThink. Nor are DT’s outlining functions, other than as a database manager, or its writing functions anything to write home about. I believe that DT’s main pluses lie with its stability, speed, capacity and classification algorithms when storing, indexing and searching large numbers of files, OCR’d or not. But if you do go down the DT route, and have a lot of paper that needs to be digitised on a frequent basis, IME a Fujitsu ScanSnap for Windows or Macintosh (I think 510 is the lastest model) is a worthwhile investment, and pairs well with DT Pro Office.