Thesis Tools: Scrivener
On my journey of writing code and prose in an effort to complete my thesis it is nice to be prepared and have the tools I need available. One of those tools I actually found quite recently but it has really helped to focus my writing at least the prose part of it. That tools is Scrivener from Literature and Latte. Using such visual tools as index cards on a cork board to assist in the structure of your writing along with a very nice implementation of full screen writing, this tool which was designed initially for writers of fiction also finds itself at home with research papers. It isn’t perfect, the export to MultiMarkdown and subsequent transformation into LaTeX didn’t seem to work initially, but I managed to get my own solution working using the scripts provided within the program. However despite the limitations on the geeky end of the spectrum, this is a fine piece of software. It allows you to break your writing into smaller discrete chucks which can be labeled, categorized, shuffled and reorganized in whichever way you like. These chucks could be individual paragraphs or smaller if you wanted, or even whole chapters or other large parts. If you are a Mac user and you are planning any kind of large scale writing project then this might very well be what you need. The author of the software recognizes that it won’t suit the way that everyone works, but it is what he wanted and he hopes that others can benefit. And at $35 USD, it is a very nice deal indeed.
One of the main advantages it has provided me with is the ease with which I can refactor my document. I can take an otherwise long running section of the paper and break it up into smaller sections. This makes each section a much smaller task, allowing me to feel that I am accomplishing something and keeping me motivated. Anything that helps disguise the enormity of this daunting task is very welcome. At the end of the day, I will still need to export my document and transform it into a LaTeX document that ends up rendering into the final result I want, but for the moment, my big concern is just getting words down “on paper” so to speak.
Over the next little while I would like to showcase some of the other software I have been using in the process of creating my thesis, in hopes that some other Mac user just starting a project like this might benefit from the information.