The end of August marked my first full month of using Scrivener as my full-time blogging tool. While I continue to miss features like in-line markdown preview, I don’t see myself leaving it’s friendly confines any time soon 1.
I have fallen in love with composition mode. This distraction-free environment is made all the more pleasing by adding an beautiful backdrop, over which the editing window floats with customizable transparency. The distraction-free modes in the markdown editors I typically use are subdued, but they are also austere. They calm, but don’t help invoke wonder or spark imagination. As I write these words, however, my eyes are subtly treated to a vision of the Delaware River on a brilliant and beautiful day. It’s as if I’m typing on a window. The added contrast also creates a nice sense of margin as I write. Composition mode is something I would not want to live without.
I continue to enjoy Scrivener’s ability to visualize the arc of my posts. I can see what topics I’ve covered on which days, and adjust my plans forward accordingly. The ability to create folders which are not part of the current draft is also helpful. In these folders I store research for future posts, images about which I want to write, or store drafts for ideas which are not quite ready for public consumption. This visualization makes blogging easier. I’m not forced to come up with ideas each and ever day, as I have an easily-scannable repository of thoughts from which to draw.
In the absence of an actual iPad app, I have also enabled the ability to sync with a dropbox folder to my blog project. This allows me to blog on the go when my MacBook is not easily accessed. As I write in markdown, moving to a text editor in my iPad is handled easily.
There are, however, a couple of things I’d like to see in Scrivener to further it’s usefulness to me as a blogger.
First, to make syncing more useful, I would like Scrivener folders to appear as folders in the synced location. Enabling external folder syncing has revealed something interesting about the nature of Scrivener files. It seems every item in the Binder is actually a file, Scrivener simply treats folders and files differently for compile purposes. This is fine inside Scrivener, but losing that structure in a synced folder 2 makes it more difficult to use on the go. There are, no doubt, technical reasons why Scrivener handles sync the way it does, but it would be useful to have some project structure appear in the sync folder.
Second, I miss the ability to convert markdown to html and have it sent directly to the clipboard. Scrivener does have Multimarkdown built into the application, which allows markdown to be compiled into various formats, but it requires the intermediate step of creating a new file in order to work with it’s output. It’s not a huge step, but it is one I’d rather not have to take. If “copy as html” were added to the application I’d also be able to use some more of Scrivener’s native features, such as footnotes, in order to write my posts – this would be useful if I wanted to use my posts in some other format, such as an ebook, down the road.
Related to this, I’d love the ability to convert Multimarkdown into native Scrivener files after the fact. Markdown is, at it’s core, a document structure – and I’d love to be able to run a command which splits up detected markdown syntax into appropriately leveled Scrivener documents. I’d also love to have it scan for link and footnote syntax and convert those to native Scrivener equivalents. Sure I can do this by hand, and I do for some of my projects, but it would be wonderful to accomplish this with a button press.
To be sure, these issues are minor. The power and accessibility of Scrivener’s environment make writing in it’s confines to much fun to pass up.