Tech Luv Thursday: Why This Die-Hard Scrivener User Said Goodbye

scrivener-logoWelcome back to another Tech Luv Thursday where I talk tech for writers and more! If you’ve followed these posts, you know that I’ve been a serious Scrivener user for the past four years. How serious? People have complained about Scrivener at different writer’s events that I’ve attended in the past. I’d be the one standing up and defending the tool, fist in the air. Okay, maybe I didn’t brandish a fist, but you get the idea. Soooo what changed?

El Capitan–sort of. Things were going great until the most recent OS X operating system kicked in. I was one of many users who experienced a Scrivener error. Here’s how it went down. If I viewed a Scrivener project in full screen and then closed it while it was in full screen, the file would not open the next time I tried to do so. Imagine that. You’ve got a 75k novel and the file won’t open! It was terrifying.

I did my research, tried some fixes, and ultimately contacted Scrivener. I immediately received an email notification that I would be contacted within 48 hours. Not only had I lost two days of work over this, but now I would be losing two more.

The Answer

child-1121178_1280When Scrivener tech support got back to me, their answer was less than satisfactory. It began with: “because Apple updated their operating system.” This is something you should never hear from a software company–from any company, really, but that’s another discussion. If you sell software that you’ve advertised as being able to run on a specific type of operating system, then it should work. There should be no lost working days for your customers. There should be no excuses.

Essentially, their fix was this: I would need to delete an accompanying preferences file and train myself not to close the file when in full screen. Training myself wasn’t a big deal. As a software trainer, I’ve trained hundreds of people. I could handle re-training myself.

No, the big deal to me was the answer I received. As an IT person, I didn’t buy that load of malarkey. It’s not a huge coding change to resolve the type of preferences issue described to me. That begs the question: why wasn’t it fixed the weekend after the release?

The Push

My brain began to churn after the interaction with Scrivener support. I also internally grumbled (once again) about the lack of iPad Scrivener app. This is pretty much a hot button for all Scrivener users. The Scrivener peeps have been promising this for several years now, but haven’t delivered. This sent a message loud and clear. My favorite software wasn’t being updated at the rate is should. So I began my research and fell in love again.

Ulysses: My New Fav

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 8.45.41 PMI thought I’d read about every type of software out there for writers, but when Ulysses cropped up I read about it with interest. The biggest appeal? It syncs with iCloud and has an iPad app. Five minutes later, I’d downloaded the generous ten-hour demo and started writing. That was it for me. The stripped down design made me want to write. There’s nothing fussy about Ulysses, it’s just a beautiful design.

Two things are a little different, so they’re worth noting if you’re considering the app. The first, it uses something called Markup language instead of standard formatting. For example, if you want text to have a Heading 1, you add a pound sign before the text. Example, #Chapter One. That’s just one example and it sounds daunting, but after a few uses, it’ll be a non-issue, even for non-techie peeps.

The second, is that there are no files, per se. You open Ulysses and all of your books are just there. There’s version control, so hopping back to a prior version is simple. You can even compare them.

The best part? It syncs seamlessly with Ulysses on your iPad. Yay! This isn’t a full review of all of the Ulysses features, so be sure to check out the tool and demo it before you buy.

The Outcome

imagesThe switch to Ulysses ended up being a no-brainer for me. Three weeks in, and I’ve never once missed Scrivener. Plus, when my Mac crashed and had to be reformatted last weekend, I just hopped onto my iPad and kept working. That sold it for me.

For now, Scrivener and I are breaking up. Maybe we’ll connect again one day, if an iPad app and better support becomes available. For now, I’m flying high on the iCloud and am loving my new tool. What writing software do you use? Feel free to include yours in the comments.