Scrivener is an new (to me) writing application that is now in late stages of beta. I’ve been playing around with it recently and I like what I see.
Scrivener is designed for large writing projects. Your work is saved in project files, which are sub-divided into folders and text documents. Each project has its own pre-assigned folders for Research and Trash. You can, of course, create as many others as you like.
The app has been some months in development, lovingly made public by developer Keith Blount on his weblog and in the Scrivener forums. Forum members and beta testers have had considerable impact on the evolving feature-set; one forum thread shows how support for MultiMarkdown was first mooted to Blount, who after some research (and a little gentle persuasion) saw a way to integrate it.
The MultiMarkdown support is there, but not easy to find. Having written your Markdown-formatted text, you then have to use the Export Draft… menu command, which gives you options for your final destination format (MultiMarkdown supports LaTeX and RTF as well as HTML). MultiMarkdown creator Fletcher Penney has created a helpful guide to usage.
The result of this is an exported HTML (or other format) file. Fine for most people, but I prefer Markdown to work the way it does in editors like BBEdit and TextMate, where the text I’ve written is replaced by the HTML it’s converted to. That’s my personal preference, though, and not a criticism of Scrivener in any way.
There’s a lot of nice ideas in Scrivener, such as the concept of “scrivs”, chunks of text in different contexts and places within a project, which can then be automagically combined into one long piece of work. A chapter of a book can be written as separate scriv-sized chunks, each one edited on its own until perfect, then the whole lot assembled as a single chapter for you.
Other nice touches include an excellent full screen mode, screenplay mode, and typewriter scrolling.
Plans for a 1.0 release before Christmas had to be shelved, but signs are good that it will appear before the end of January. Writers among you, keep an eye on it.