Friday, March 28, 2014

Software Review: Scrivener

After tinkering with Scrivener for a couple of hours, I could almost immediately see its potential – the problem is (and this is the issue with all new software to some degree) I don’t have time to learn how everything works. The tutorial is pretty complete, but I usually like to just jump in with both feet and get wet. Damn the instructions! The corkboard feature is pretty neat, but it’s doubtful I’ll use it just because I dig Scapple so much. The organization of chapters, story entries, etc. is pretty neat, and I like being able to juggle things around later if I want. Where this software really shines is the productivity tools for its targeted session writing. That’s just amazingly useful to keep hitting consistent and constant goals. I do this right now using a text file and manual entry. Two things which it doesn't have: Lack of WYSIWYG support. I know this is an intentional design decision. But l;et’s face it, most technical writers (which I am) have to use WYSIWYG so that our material can be poured into production software to get the final product. This is an HUGE downside for me as it immediately cuts the use of this program in half. Bam. Half of what I could use it for is gone. Some sort of template integration for those that want to use it would be great – eve if you can only do it at the end of what you are writing. The other thing is lack of a grammar or spellchecker – not that Windows Office is hitting on anything with theirs mind you, but it is there – lack of one…just sucks.
Overall, I like it, but it’s lack of support for technical writers is a blow to its consistent use for me. That said, I’ll probably use it for novels because well...it is a powerful tool. You can purchase Scrivener directly from the Literature & Latte site for $40 which may or may not be too high depending on what sort of writing you do. I personally wouldn't have paid full price (I did NaNoWriMo last year so I got 50% off) and if you like to write, can hit 50,000 words in 30 days, and are willing to wait I suggest you do the same thing. They also have education discounts for those with a .edu email account. I give Scrivener 3.5 out of 5 pennies

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