Scrivener

Scrivener

Scrivener is a writing application that has taken the Macintosh World by storm in the last couple of years and many a user has chosen it to replace the erstwhile ubiquitous Word for much of their word crunching. It is the creation of English author Keith Blount who taught himself cocoa programming because he wanted to create a writing application that did exactly what he wanted it to. Blount observed how people wrote, and designed Scrivener with this in mind. It is particularly well suited to the student as well as journalists and other writers. Unlike some Mac Word Processors (Word comes to mind) Scrivener follows Mac conventions, so it looks and works like a Mac application should. A big plus in my view.

Scrivener begins with a project and each project has a binder with a draft section and a research section. Draft is text only and is where you keep your draft documents, but all the snippets of information that you gather for a project come under the research menu and you can import text, pdfs, web pages, video, music, images and other types of research. You can have your whole TMA material in the research section of your project. While writing an answer to one question a great idea may come which involves another part of the project and this is simple to enter under research. A synopses function allows you to create synopses of each piece of research or each draft document that can be displayed on corkboard or in outline mode. Snapshots lets you catch a version of your draft that you can roll back to if you want to go back to a previous version or use it for reference.

When it comes to writing your drafts you can go to split screen and access your research in the lower pane while doing your draft in the upper pane. And if you find that it is best to block out the rest of the world while you write there is a full screen mode too. The Compile tool allows you to take the text in your Draft folder and turn it into a printed document or a file that you can take to another application.

Although Scrivener has an export option that allows you to export in .doc and other formats, I think most students would find it good to use it alongside a Word Processor like Word, Nisus Writer Pro or Pages for preparing your final submission of your TMA or ECA.

There is a series of excellent video tutorials for Scrivener, and Mac Power Users has devoted a whole podcast to Scrivener. Scrivener also has an active Forum where users can find out more about the application and get tips and answers to their questions.

Scrivener is shareware and is available from Literature and Latte for the student price of £24.94 and that licence is for up to 3 computers in the same household. A 30 day trial is available. Scrivener 2.0 see video tutorial with many new features and improvements is out now. Current users of Scrivener 1 may upgrade for £19.15.

Review by Brian Millson