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NYT Magazine covers Scrivener, other OS X writing apps

An Interface of One’s Own

I was delighted to see my favorite OS X writing app, Scrivener, turn up in today's "The Medium" column of the New York Times Magazine. I reviewed Scrivener about a year ago, and still use it whenever I have to research, plan, and draft anything more complicated than a blog post. In fact, as luck would have it, I was actually working on my upcoming Macworld talk in Scrivener when I took a break to read the paper and saw this article. Kismet or something.

Columnist, Virginia Heffernan, notes the app's beloved full-screen capability:

To create art, you need peace and quiet. Not only does Scrivener save like a maniac so you needn’t bother, you also get to drop the curtain on life’s prosaic demands with a feature that makes its users swoon: full screen. When you’re working on a Scrivener opus, you’re not surrounded by teetering stacks of Firefox windows showing old Google searches or Citibank reports of suspicious activity. Life’s daily cares slip into the shadows. What emerges instead is one pristine and welcoming scroll: Your clean and focused mind.

High fives to other great apps mentioned in the article, including Ulysses, WriteRoom, and Nisus Writer. Slightly lower fives go to Microsoft Word, which, once again, takes its usual drubbing as The Application Everyone Wants To Get Away From™. Poor Microsoft Word, the mascara-smeared Gloria Swanson of word processors.

In the year since I wrote my own review of Scrivener, I still find myself relying heavily on it for housing the research, braindumps, and very early draft shapes of most longer pieces I do. Falling somewhere between OmniOutliner, DevonTHINK, and the aforementioned WriteRoom, Scrivener is still, in my opinion, the go-to app for all-in-one research and writing.

As ever, YMMV. This app is absolutely not for everyone (especially if you don't have the need for lots of complicated research and organizational hooks), but if you struggle to find a writing environment that maps to the way your own writing brain operates, I still highly recommend checking out the free Scrivener download.

AmberV's picture

Re: Second for LyX

The main thing that draws me to MultiMarkdown over LaTeX and/or LyX is that the source file is so beautifully easy to read, and plain text. The syntax looks pretty much just like casual ASCII based emphasis and header markings. Even more complicated things like tables look good. Generating a valid LaTeX file takes a few seconds, and that can be loaded into LyX or turned into a PDF very easily. The whole thing is done with Perl and XSLT, so it is very easy to customise the process if necessary.

A curious by-product of using Scrivener+MMD is that since Scrivener was originally intended to be a rich text editor, you can combine the two paradigms, using visual styles as a form of editing semantic, while relying on the MMD syntax to produce the actual publishable semantics, since the process of compiling out of Scrivener strips everything down to plain text (using the MMD exporters, of course). So I can use things like bold and font sizes to illuminate parts of the draft, without having to worry about these things getting represented in the output.




An Oblique Strategy:
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