Rich's Mad Rants
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Testing out Scrivner

So, I finally broke down and started testing out Scrivner. For those who don't know, it's basically a word processor specifically designed for writers. It allows you to organize and work on large writing projects, and it has been highly recommended by just about everyone.

So far I like it. With one exception.

Let me take a quick step back here, and say that I've listened to a lot of people talk about how the iPad is a great media consumption device, but that it sucks for media creation. I disagree. I use my iPad all the time. However, I use it differently than my desktop.

For example, brainstorming. I love MindNotes. It's the first computerized mind-mapping software that I felt was realistically useable. In fact, I now prefer it to paper. It's almost as easy to use, and I can so easily move things around, or export the results to use in other programs. In fact, my only complaint is that I cannot connect items into loops. I'd really like to be able to draw additional connections between existing nodes.

I am also a big fan of Pages on the iPhone. Don't get me wrong, I would never sit down and write anything of significant length. However, for editing documents, it is absolutely brilliant. Again, I probably prefer editing on my iPad to editing on my computer. In the old days (back when dinosaurs walked the earth--you know, the 90's), I would typically print out hard copies when editing, mark them up, then go back to the keyboard to make the changes. I find that editing on the iPad gives me almost all the advantages I found in working on hardcopies (very portable, a uni-tasking environment, easy to mark up with notes and comments), with the added bonus of removing the tedious final step. I can make the changes directly on the iPad, and just export them back.

In fact, I wish someone would develop a word processor on the iPad that really focused on making it a good editing tool. I'm not entirely sure what that would entail, but I can feel the general shape of it.

Enter Scrivner.

Scrivener, in many ways, has the ability to become an excellent editing platform. I love the way I work with scene-sized blocks of text. And it feels like there should be some sort of synergy between the outlining in Scrivner and the outlining I already perform in MindNotes. Mostly, it just feels like there should be some way of getting the peanut butter of Scrivener into the chocolate that is editing on the iPad.

But there isn't. And it doesn't sound like the folks at Scrivner have any interest in making one. And that's a sad, sad thing.

Sure, I could export the Scrivner document as a word doc, then import it into Pages on my iPad. But, I cannot round trip the document back into Scrivner (or at least, I don't know how to). And that may turn out to be a deal-breaker for Scrivner.