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My Scrivener 2.0 review

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Posted by Hugh
Dec 13, 2010 at 11:27 PM


I haven’t downloaded the Windows beta, but as an owner of Version 2 of Scrivener for the Mac and an observer of the development of the Windows version, I’d make the following points in an effort to provide answers to some of the posts above:

- Scrivener for Windows is very much a work-in-progress. The beta was released for NaNoWriMo, but as far as I can see it still requires quite a lot of work to get it right. February is I think the “paid-for” target release date. Fun to play with, but as yet I personally wouldn’t entrust important writing to it.

- The declared intention of the developers is that Windows Scrivener should have all the features of the previous version (1.54) of Scrivener for the Mac, with a few of those for the latest Mac version (2.0). If that is the case, there’s every reason to think that Windows Scrivener will work hand-in-glove with commonly used citation managers. From the evidence of the forums, I can say that a number of academics use the Mac version successfully, with or without citation managers, for theses, dissertations, even preparing classes—as well as, of course, for book-writing.

- However, it would be wrong (if you’ve little or no experience of the application) to see it as an outliner pure and simple. It does have outliner functions. You should certainly be able to re-arrange sections easily by drag-and-drop or keyboard as with any outliner: if not, that will only be because of temporary defects in the beta. But the key purpose of the software is as a “text drafter”, helping you to gather and hold your research and put your writing together in chunks, perhaps out of sequence as a lot of people write. It has a number of tools to help you to draft text—for example, full screen, outliner, corkboard, dual-pane editor. Perhaps because no other application has targeted this precise functionality before, it’s sometimes not properly understood. It is not a word processor, although for some purposes final drafts can be prepared in it. The developer’s intended workflow for most long-form purposes is Scrivener to word processor (for layout and final formatting). Sometimes you might want to use a mind-mapper or more full-bloodied standalone outliner (which, as I say, Scrivener is not) to build your outline from scratch, and then export that outline to Scrivener.

- Regarding Whizfolders: I’ve used Whizfolders when I worked on Windows. I still have a licence. Whizfolders is good; it has something of the idea that Scrivener has of working in chunks. But Scrivener is better, with more features dedicated to pure writing, editing and revising (such as dual-pane editing, full-screen, the ability to hold research in other formats such as pdfs, the ability to work in a font and format which suits screen-work and then export or print in a different format altogether).

One further point: if you’re interested in using Scrivener for Windows, for example as a tool for academic work, it would be well worth having a good look at the Literature & Latte forum, even if you don’t download the application right now. There are many threads on different uses for the application, and a wealth of information on other software suitable for writing, mostly at the moment Mac software, but I guess in the future Windows software as well. There are at least two active threads at this moment dealing with aspects of academic uses for Scrivener. Some of the posts of course are specific to the latest Mac version but many have general applicability. (The forum itself is a web phenomenon. You will come across academics, authors with books out and software experts with a great breadth of knowledge. It ranks alongside OutlinerSoftware.com as one of the friendliest and most helpful forums in this area on the Internet. The Literature & Latte forum is part of the value of Scrivener.)

I hope this helps somewhat.