Zettelkasten Forum


Plain text alternative to Scrivener's "Scrivenings" and it's ability to rearrange and order files?

Scrivener has the ability to view multiple individual documents as one file.

Viewing the files

You are still able to edit individual files while in this combined view.

And you can also rearrange the order of the files and have this reflected in the combined view.

This function seems incredibly useful for arranging and editing a final piece of writing.

Is there any plain text editor/viewer that is able to give the same functionality?

The ability to rearrange the order of the files could be replicated by placing then editing number at the start of the file, though this would be cumbersome to do manually. It would be great if a piece of software could automatically edit numbers in at the start of the file name as individual files are rearranged, but this might be asking too much.

Is any software able to show multiple notes in a "Scrivenings" like view?

Comments

  • I'm not aware of a plaintext app that offers something similar to Scrivener's "Scrivenings" mode. Ulysses (while maybe not a pure plaintext editor/viewer) offers a "glue" feature that might be used in a similar fashion (I haven't used this myself, though).

    Anyways, I agree that a "Scrivenings"-like mode can be very useful. Some time ago, I've made basic steps towards this, i.e., multiple selected notes get presented together in my app’s editor view:

    However, this still lacks crucial functionality:

    • It would be very helpful if one could hide certain metadata from the editor view.
    • Manual ordering of notes isn't supported yet (I envision it may be best implemented via a structure note).
    • Edits in the multi-note editor aren't properly persisted yet. However, one can alternatively drag the selected notes into another text editor, batch-edit there, then simply drag them back (see also).
  • edited January 9

    Other apps that can present multiple selected notes in the same editor view:

  • It may be possible to do something similar, at least to read the document, by using an "outline" document, a language-specific transclusion syntax, and a viewer like Marked. The Marked docs have a section on multi-file documents.

  • From the sister thread at the MPU forums: Zettlr has a Projects feature which allows to concatenate files in a folder on export.

    This would handle at least the preview aspect of the Scrivenings mode. Re-ordering of notes might be done via the Project files list.

  • edited January 10

    To add to what @alexchabot shared -- the functionality Marked employs is often called "transclusion", which means that the transcluded files are essentially pasted into the source document. Can be project outlines, or notes including notes.

    We've also talked about assembling drafts from outlines in the forums and a compiler script I wrote might help:
    https://zettelkasten.de/posts/zettelkasten-outline-script/

    Compared to an editor that concatenates individual files into a consecutive document, this is a crutch, but the best we have at the moment.

    (That being said, you can find plugins for extensible editors like vim or emacs that do file transclusion inside the editor instead of in a generated output. But the cost of switching to emacs can be tremendous :))

    Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/

  • But the cost of switching to emacs can be tremendous

    And is sometimes dependent on extensive third party nagging. :*

    I am a Zettler

  • edited January 11

    The outline combining notes per their ID (not file names) is definitely a powerful tool! With the appeal of keeping everything “inside the system”. I’ve just finished to review my thesis and change it into a “book version”, and that approach helped a lot. It was better than Ulysses cards. But, it should be noted, I already had a basic structure of chapters to work on.

    The problem with implementing it as a tool is perhaps how to create something suitable for general use. I’ve got the work done with a script much tailored to my tastes (and, yes, emacs...).

    Post edited by brunoc on
  • (and, yes, emacs...).

  • edited January 11

    And this is a demo for the "Zettel Composer" script:

    Post edited by brunoc on
  • @brunoc You've been cooking a lot of cool tools in secret! The composer script looks super useful -- it even comes with a file/folder watcher! Please add a README to instruct us how to get this up and running :)

    Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/

  • Looks great @brunoc! If only I weren't so intimidated by emacs...

  • @Jon said:
    Looks great @brunoc! If only I weren't so intimidated by emacs...

    Even I could learn the basics. Give it a try and dedicate an hour per day for a month and you are down to it. (I went 20 hours on a weekend straight and it was enough)

    I am a Zettler

  • @ctietze said:
    @brunoc You've been cooking a lot of cool tools in secret! The composer script looks super useful -- it even comes with a file/folder watcher! Please add a README to instruct us how to get this up and running :)

    Oh yes! I've been playing with it for a year now. I think time is due to make it public...

  • edited January 15

    You can kind of replicate this with - for example 1 - iA Writer. But you need to open 3 different windows. In the first window, you have an Index-File, where you insert all the other files (they have to be in the same directory) with a pretty simple syntax. There you can rearrange them with copy and paste. In the second window you have your glued text but it is not editable, because it is just the preview of your Index. But whenever you change the order in the first window, it will be reflected in the second. Sadly you can't directly go to editing in the second window so you need the third one for editing the files you represented in your index file. It's not as smooth like in scrivener but the easiest solution I can think of.

    I think you can do this with every editor that supports preview and this kind of syntax; Obsidian for example. Or every editor wich is capable of streaming a preview to marked2.


    1. I never used iA Writer before. This was just for the purpose of demonstration. ↩︎

  • @runit said:
    You can kind of replicate this with - for example [^1] - iA Writer. But you need to open 3 different windows. In the first window, you have an Index-File, where you insert all the other files (they have to be in the same directory) with a pretty simple syntax. There you can rearrange them with copy and paste.

    One disadvantage of iA Writer is its being unsupportive of the wiki link "standard" ([[1234]]). In consequence, you are unable to use outlines with wiki links to the content notes in your index, which is much neater, I think.

    If you have some familiarity with the Terminal and with executing commands from the prompt, check my post on the script I use. I did a job of trying to document it.

  • @brunoc said:
    One disadvantage of iA Writer is its being unsupportive of the wiki link "standard" ([[1234]]).

    You are right. But wiki links are not required for replicating the functionality that was asked for in the first place. Nevertheless if you want them, just use Obsidian etc. As I stated above:

    I think you can do this with every editor that supports preview and this kind of syntax; Obsidian for example. Or every editor wich is capable of streaming a preview to marked2.

    //

    In consequence, you are unable to use outlines with wiki links to the content notes in your index, which is much neater, I think. If you have some familiarity with the Terminal and with executing commands from the prompt, check my post on the script I use. I did a job of trying to document it.

    Of course. This solution is superior in the regard of pure functionality and neatness. :smile: But I consider the terminal 1 and even automator (at some point) to be tools for „powerusers“. And they are not everyone‘s cup of tea. So I just presented an option where these are not required.


    1. off-topic: Although I am comfortable using the command line on linux, I found using it on MacOS and Windows at best unnatural and at worst utterly frustrating. So the terminal is always my last resort on these operating systems. ↩︎

  • The Archive/Marked2 Live Preview

    Subatomic: "Scrivenings" mode behavior using The Archive and Marked2.

    Using just The Archive and Marked2, I think I have come close to 'Scrivenizing' a workflow for writing anything longer than a blogpost using preexisting zettel and mixing with new zettel.

    I've created a short video show roughly a workflow starting to develop around the live preview and the ability to write in small (atomic) fragments and use an outline to rearrange them. This is early days. I'm a beginner and my workflow likely will develop more and change.

    I'm sure many of you will see errors or gaps in my understanding. Please share them with us.

    Once again I removed all dough that I'm an idiot. Fumbling with the microphone, stuttering, um-ing which I removed the vast majority in post-processing.

    After editing and rewatching this several times and almost giving up and saying the hell with it all, here it is. I forgot to mention a bunch of important things, some of which are mentioned below -
    1. Here is a screenshot of the menu item that calls Marked2 from the zettel in The Archive and initiates the live preview. I used the keyboard shortcut ⇧⌘E.

    1. Thank Brett Terpstra, the creator of Marked2
    2. Thank @cteize, the creator of The Archive
    3. This particular essay is short and I expect it will have only 2 or 3 files. It is mostly a dry run and a learning exercise. It is taking me an inordinate amount of time to write because it is mixed with learning. Other essays would have lots more sections and subsections. with some drawn from preexisting zettel and some created on the fly.
    4. I use my two window workflow. I've found convenient attaching the MacBook to an external monitor and running The Archive in two window mode on the monitor and Marked2's live preview on the MacBook's monitor.

    1. The reordering of the sections is easily done with keyboard commands moving whole lines up and down. ⌃⌘↑ and ⌃⌘↓
    2. I didn't mention that files can be called by other files and this way you can have sections and rearrange within a section and between sections.
    3. I didn't go into the output possibilities but they include -

    1. Zivon makes a guest appearance.

    Will Simpson
    I'm a futzing, second-guessing, backtracking, compulsive oversharing, ZK-maniac, in other words, your typical zettelnant.
    Research areas: Attention Horizon, Productive Procrastination, Dzogchen, Non-fiction Creative Writing, Cognitive Workload, Python, Data Science
    kestrelcreek.com

  • @Will Thank you for sharing such a detailed and thoughtful response! That was a great video and clearly explained everything.

    Also, the keyboard command for moving whole lines up and down is a very useful tip.

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