Open Thinkering


Write lots? Buy this.

I don’t like paying for software.

I don’t like using other people’s methods for doing stuff.

I don’t like storing files offline.

But I’ve made an exception. I’ve just bought Scrivener after using it for less than 24 hours. And that’s despite it having a 30 (non-consecutive) day trial. It’s going to revolutionise my writing of longer texts – like that Ed.D. thesis I’m almost half-way through…

So give it a try. But make sure you watch the introductory video first so you can do it some justice. 🙂

19 thoughts on “Write lots? Buy this.

  1. I couldn’t agree more! I used Scrivener for my MSc dissertation and it was brilliant for keeping everything together, and encouraging me to write short sections which I could then edit together later… It also meant that I didn’t worry about structure or ordering whilst writing as it was so easy to move stuff about at the end!

    I am absolutely sure you will love it, and can’t imagine using anything else for my EdD – to the extent that I will probably end up buying a MacBook just to be able to use it (as my current laptop is a windows machine from work, and the iMac at home is the family computer!)

    1. Thanks for the feedback on Twitter when I was asking questions, Andy. It’s
      pretty much guaranteed that if you ask for feedback and *no-one* says
      anything bad about it, you’re onto a winner. I’ve been very, very impressed.

      As you say, it allows you to ‘just write’ without having to worry about
      where exactly it’s going to go.

      Love it. 🙂

  2. Didn’t realise only for Mac until I went to link. Would help to clarify that in the post. Thanks.

  3. Juuuust going to have a quick comment on your first point, matey! I try and take a different stance on buying software, as I’m sure you can imagine! 🙂

    I think the reason people don’t like paying for software is that it feels like you’re paying for an intangible, and sure there’s plenty of free software out there. Ultimately, though, it takes a lot of time, skill and effort to write software.

    As a thought, what if I said teachers shouldn’t be paid because people can learn the same stuff off the Internet or in a library? You’d think I was crazy! Equally the intellectual knowledge needed to write good software is, to me at least, worth parting with some cash for 🙂

      1. I’d say that’s a different argument. Yes, without doubt some software developers (and teachers, I’m sure) don’t deserve their salaries, but to me the fundamental fact remains that it should be balanced.

        I’ll try and put it another way. Let’s say I had no bills, I can afford to do everything for free. Should I? Different argument. Let’s say I *do* have bills (which I obviously do!) can I afford to do things for free? No, not really.

        So there has to be a balance. OSS is great, I enjoy a lot of Open Source products myself, but I have no problem with paying for software if it’s genuinely useful and the developer says they want to charge. It just strikes me that the sentiment of not being willing or happy to pay for software is fundamentally the same as saying that someone’s time and effort isn’t worth money, which as someone who makes their living that way, can be a bit difficult to handle!

        1. The end user cannot be held responsible for whether or not the developer has
          a mortgage. That’s a lifestyle decision on the part of the developer. It’s a
          bit like the argument for online newspapers – *should* the Times have a
          paywall? Surely journalists deserve to be paid?

          1. I’m not saying end users are responsible. I’m saying that if people don’t get paid for software then it becomes the domain of hobbyists, since it’s not a viable career choice. In reality I’m suggesting a balance. Free and Open Source Software is a very good thing, but it’s a competitive industry and real bills that need paying. Who is going to pick up the tab? It’s unrealistic to expect a user to be ‘divorced’ from that process.

            I have no problem at all with the Times paywall, because I think journalists deserve to be paid. Would I pay it? No, because I don’t feel the need to – it’s of no benefit to me. That’s my choice. I don’t, and shouldn’t, decide if the Times *should* charge.

            In a similar vein, do I think musicians should be paid and that it’s right to pay for music (even if it’s ad-supported)? Yes. Again, it’s because I value their work and if I’m regularly enjoying it then I should be paying so that they can keep working. If the artist chooses to release music for free then that’s great, but I certainly don’t think it should be expected of them. Bringing that back to software, like many things, if people are willing to give it away that’s great, but it shouldn’t be expected of them.

          2. I don’t want to argue with you Paul, and respect your position, but you’ve
            said the following things (from what I understand):

            1. People should be expected to pay for software. Users are part of the
            2. You don’t feel the need to pay for the Times because you get your news
            for free elsewhere.

            Ergo: people shouldn’t be expected to pay for software they can get for free

          3. I’m definitely viewing this as healthy discussion. I wouldn’t read this as anything but both of us arguing a position really. Certainly not cause for any kind of argument – we should save that for other stuff perhaps! 😀

            1. Developers should be free to charge for software. In my view there shouldn’t be an expectation that a developer should be willing to make their code Free or Open Source

            2. Yes, and that’s my choice. Just as it’s theirs to charge for the Times

            So what it really boils down to yes, if people want to choose an Open Source or Free alternative that makes perfect sense, and I would fully support that. But where I have a sticking point is where it comes over that OSS or Free is the only reasonable thing for developers to do and should be expected from them. To me the equivalent of asking a musician, writer or a teacher to create and distribute their work for free is unreasonable.

            Now it’s not clear whether that’s your view, but if it is then I’d say that’s problematic because there are definitely situations where it’s not feasible or realistic. Of course if someone (like you often do, I know) are in a position to, and are willing to, give things away for free that’s fantastic.

            Certainly though mate, no offence intended and as I say just me airing a different viewpoint! Hope that makes sense and clarifies my thoughts 🙂

          4. Right! I love OSS, course I do, and I love a bargain! I guess there may come a day where all software is effectively OSS, but we should be aware that it will be paid for in other ways (iAds anyone?)

  4. I’m about to buy Scrivener as well. Finding it an invaluable aid to organising source materials and writing.
    I did want to use it with Dropbox to have access to it at work and home, but its file format means it doesn’t transfer well. So any Dropbox users will have to export to zip first, via ‘Backup project to’.
    Thanks for your blogs and tweets, btw.

  5. Thanks for the post Doug. I’m starting my EdD this summer and I was looking for a tool and guess i will go for
    scrivener. They’ve already produced one for windows but I may even buy a Mac Laptop and get the Mac version as the windows one still have some bugs that they are working on right now. It woud be great if you can share some of the other tools that may be useful for me to use from the beginning. Wish you all the best.

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