Scrivener, a great writing environment!
Writing about web page http://drhariri.com/blog/1384/scrivener/
Note: this is a summary of a blog post I wrote on my Arabic research blog (برنامج الكتابة الرائع Scrivener), a blog that I have been running for over 3 years, aiming to spread knowledge and resources to help postgraduate students and researchers in the middle east.
For a while, I have been finding it more and more difficult to use Microsoft Word for writing, especially when it comes to bigger documents.
I often find myself thinking about where to write a certain chunk of text and even if I decided, it is sometimes hard to quickly reach the section that I want to update/edit.
A couple of week ago, Paul, my supervisor, started a discussion with me on how best to store and work on my thesis. He suggested that I use a feature that exists in MS Word where documents can be linked together to a certain master document. So, I went ahead and decided to learn about this feature which I have never heard of before. However, while writing, it came to my attention that some users reported their files and projects becoming coprrupted as a result of using this feature. So, I decided that using it is too risky, so here is an X for that.
I decided to look for alternatives, and all of a sudden, I remembered a certain software called Scrivener, which seemed very inetresting to me about a year ago so I decided to follow their Twitter account back then.
I decided to visit their website and I found out that they have already released a Windows version as it only had a Mac version back then and although I use a Mac mainly, I didn't start using it back then.
I took a look at the introduction video and their website and it was fascinating to me to find out that many novelists, authors, journalists and even researchers have been using Scrivener and have been very happy with it.
I also started googling Scrivener and found that others are using it in education and research.
The main concept behind Scrivener is that it offers a great writing environment where documents are split into chunks of texts. Those chunks could be chapters, sections, a few paragraphs or a few lines. The beauty however about Scrivener is that if you decided to combine all of those chunks into a single document for printing or sending, this can be done automatically and very easily using Scrivner's compile feature.
What this means is, if you are writing and do not want to worry about structuring or stylying at all, you can do that without any problems, and once you finish you can tell Scrivener to combined everything and format it in a way you specify. So, you could tell it to format chunk's titles as H3, for instance and to format any higher level groups as H2s or H1s.
The big advantage in this case of course is, your writing space is always there and you are free to add as many chunks of texts or images as you want.
Scrivener of course is more than just a writing environment, it has many geat features that I suggest you check.
Inregration with Reference Management Software
Since its important to me to have the ability to insert citations within Scrivener as I currently do in MS Word, as it has my Mendeley's plugin installed, I decided to look for possible ways of integration. to my surprise, there was no way to do this with Mendeley at the moment. However, it seems that those using Endnote or Zotero have a better luck as both of those reference management software offer an RTF scan feature that can be used to update citations and references list once the final document is made.
This is a quick video showing how Endnote can be used with Scrivener:
And here is the longer version of it where the author, a PhD student, explains how he uses tools like Evernote and Scrivener in his research activities.
Any hope for those using Mendeley?
Well, personally, I wouldn't turn down a potentialy beneficial software just because it doesn't work nice with another one. In this case, I decided to use Scrivener and insert citations manually like I usually do anyway. However to stay alerted to where they are I write them, for instance something like (John, 2000), then, I highlight them in Scrivener.
I don't see a huge problem of not being able to automatically use Mendeley within Scrivener. However, I decided to tweet those @Mendeley_com and @ScrivenerApp to see if there are any chances for an integration between those 2 to be born, and to my joy! they said that they have met and they are working on something that will make it possible for Scrivener and Mendeley to play nice with each other! So, let's hope that they develop something for us very soon!
Join the campaign and spread the tweets for a Mendeley Scrivener integration!
By the way, if you use Mendeley and would love to use Scrivener, don't be shy to do just what I did, LET THEM KNOW!. go ahead and tweet to both of those great companies how you love to see an integration as soon as possible.
If you are new to twitter, use something like:
Hi! I'm very interested in an integration between @Mendeley_com & @ScrivenerApp please!