Taking Scrivener to the Porch

Porch at Cross Creek

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings “office” at Cross Creek.

Last week we paid a visit to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ home at Cross Creek. She wrote her Pulitzer prize-winning novel, The Yearling, and most of her other stories from this table on her porch. Although I’ll never have anything close to her writing talent, I do have a delightful porch and it’s been an enjoyable place to work the last couple of weeks. And, thanks to Scrivener’s Sync with External Folder feature, I can work on my current manuscript on the porch using my iPad. Here’s how.

Although Scrivener provides synching with Simplenote and Index Card for iOS, I’ve found the Byword app [Mac – $9.99 & iOS – $2.99] an easy-to-use editor that “plays” well with Scrivener. Byword offers Dropbox support so I use the Sync with External Folder function to work between the two apps. While Byword is my editor choice, that doesn’t mean it’s the only way to use this feature. Any editor that works with plain or rich text formats should work using this feature.

The initial external folder setup is done via Scrivener. With the project open, I choose the Sync with External Folder command from the File menu. The Sync pane appears.

Scrivener Sync

Here I identify the Dropbox folder I want to use for this book project along with document formatting options. Notice that I’ve chosen to have Scrivener take a snapshot of my project before each sync operation and to sync automatically when a Scrivener project is opened and closed.

The first sync will put all my Draft items in the Dropbox folder I specified. Blank text items in Scrivener become blank documents in the folder. Unfortunately, the pseudo folder/file structure created in Scrivener does not sync with the files. The files are displayed in whatever sorting structure I have set up in my file manager. However, if I had chosen to use the Prefix file names with numbers option, the added number would give me a better sense of the project structure.

By setting the auto option, Scrivener will check the external folder for updated files each time I open the project and synch with the external folder when I close it. I can also do a manual sync at any time using the File > Sync with External Folder Now command.

When setting up Byword to connect to Dropbox, the default location is Dropbox/Apps/Byword. If you want to sync your Scrivener files to a different Dropbox folder, you’ll need to update the Byword settings so you can access them.

I’ve found that if I add a new document in Byword it will sync to my Scrivener project – at the bottom of the current Draft structure. If I delete a document file from the external folder, it will be replaced with the last Scrivener version of that document the next time I sync. To permanently remove an item, I have to remove it from the Scrivener project.

I’m still looking forward to the iPad app for Scrivener so I take all my project files – research, notes and draft – to the porch. Until that time arrives, I’ll take advantage of Scrivener’s sync options and my Byword app to work wherever I am.


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