Interesting bunch of people at the Waterstones Piccadilly Christmas party last night. A couple had bought my little ebook on Scrivener. One who’d been following the blog asked, ‘Now you’re on Windows will Scrivener there be as good as the Mac?’
Good question. I’ve been using the original Scrivener Mac version almost since it appeared. Can’t even remember how many books I’ve used it for. But as I’ve written extensively here… an important part of the production process for any published author involves Word, which is far superior on Windows, so the Mac has been dumped and I now have Windows 8 on the desk.
I love Scrivener. It’s one of those rare pieces of software that helps you think and experiment on the fly. I don’t think I need it for every project I undertake. But I can’t imagine not needing it for some, perhaps most in the development stages. The Mac version is a mature, polished piece of software. The Windows version 1.0 much more recent. Is it good enough?
Since it’s a while since I took a look I downloaded the beta for the next release version 1.5, to see. You can find it here.
The first thing that strikes you coming from the Mac to Windows is the appearance. The Windows app looks a bit old-fashioned to me, especially when you set it against Microsoft’s new, minimalist version of Word. There are simple ways to clean things up though. I really don’t need the toolbar or the format bar. Get rid of them and you end up with a screen like this…
Looks pretty much like Mac Scrivener to me, especially when I change the fonts to the ones I used on the Mac. The first version on Windows lacked a few key features I liked. These are being fed into newer releases. You can find the Collections feature I used for handling different storylines in The Killing in this beta. You can also export to ebook formats, a feature many people missed in the first release.
The Binder, which you use for navigation, outlining and playing around with structure, is much the same. Full screen, my favourite mode for writing, is very similar too. Though it comes with a colour for the page background which I didn’t much like, so I changed it to plain white which gives you this.
The one continuing oddity I find a bit unsettling will only affect those who work on large screens. On something like a 27-inch Mac if you go full screen (not compose mode) the text part of your document will centre nicely and the binder and inspectors will go to each side, separating them from your words. On Windows this doesn’t happen.
The text goes to the left. You can fiddle with this by increasing the page margin. But it still doesn’t move it enough for my 24-inch screen. So I’d end up avoiding running the whole app in full screen — just have a floating window — until this is fixed I think. It’s a small cosmetic thing, one that most people who’ve never used the Mac version will never notice.
The real question when comparing Mac and Windows version isn’t ‘are they feature-compatible?’ It’s ‘does the version I want to use have all the features I need?’
Scrivener is a very feature-rich application, and one key to mastering it is avoiding those that are peripheral to your project. I doubt I use fifty per cent of its features. There are still plenty in there I don’t begin to understand… or want to.
So does Scrivener for Windows cut it? For me… absolutely. There’s nothing I’d do on the Mac that I couldn’t achieve just as easily with this beta.Given it’s only a year old that’s quite an achievement. And the Windows version is still marginally cheaper than the Mac one. Which is ridiculously underpriced given how fantastic it is.
For dedicated writing and story development software there’s nothing to touch Scrivener… on Mac or Windows.