I was reading several posts on the Obsidian forum when I ran across a post explaining why the poster was moving everything from Scrivener to Obsidian. She articulated what I’ve had a gut feeling about but had not yet articulated clearly to myself. Below are her comments.
I had already started using Ulysses as a better long-term option due to my increasing concerns about getting stuff out of Scrivener and the lack of any development. Ulysses seems like the next best option.
But I’m not sure Obsidian is a good solution for long writing (book length) as it lacks the ability to temporarily combine documents/sheets to get a good sense of the text flow and transitions.
I’m curious what other Scrivener users think.
I am in the process of moving all my work to Obsidian because of portability. After fourteen years, I’m moving on from Scrivener:
- Obsidian is already a more powerful and flexible app, especially across platforms. It is also modern and progressive.
- While it is possible to hack into Scrivener projects to retrieve the base RTF files or to export to different formats, the plain text of Obsidian and the universality of markdown are just so much more stable to work with, as well as being accessible to other apps without the need to export or compile.
- RTF was originally developed by Microsoft in 1987 and then abandoned by them in 2008. No app should be using it natively these days. And RTF is a development cul-de-sac: there is no road ahead.
- Scrivener is essentially a one-person company: one principal owner / developer. There’s no community input (as there is with Obsidian) and the developer is only concerned with doing things that he likes. If the ageing developer retires tomorrow or contracts Coivd and dies, the company and the app risk being lost with him.
- Working between macOS and iOS is a nightmare with Scrivener. Syncing across platforms is terrible, and the iOS version has miserable functionality.
- The development of Scrivener on a single platform and across multiple platforms has been ridiculously slow, with new versions being years late in their delivery. Obsidian is in another realm.
- Scrivener is designed for linear writing and ideas. Obsidian allows thoughts and writing to develop along multiple paths and in multiple directions at the same time. Obsidian allows writers to be far more expansive and expressive.
- Scrivener was a great product when it launched in 2007. But it launched on tech that MS killed in 2008. It badly needs to be rethought and rewritten, but there is no sign of that happening.
So glad to have found Obsidian, and feel that my work is now far more secure and far more capable of being augmented by being in plain text / markdown.
In a follow-up post she wrote:
I only stuck to facts.
- Yes, it has some functionality other apps don’t have, but nothing that can’t be replicated or improved upon in some way by using other tools. It no longer has a lead in any area.
- RTF remains as an unreliable, basic interchange format. It has been deprecated by Microsoft, and the company has said that it shouldn’t be used. It’s also a security risk. No app should be using it as a native format. As MS says, no user should be trusting their work to it. It was last updated thirteen years ago. RTF has no future: it doesn’t sync well with mobile devices; files don’t transfer well between different writing platforms; and it was designed in an age when the focus was on supplying apps for office workers and producing work on paper. It isn’t a format for the twenty-first century. It isn’t a professional, modern, digital, portable format. It comes with short- and long-term risks for anyone who trusts their writing to it. Although people can make that choice.
- It’s a community dominated by closed-minded “Scrivener can’t be improved, and we love the developer” voices: a great many of them retired people who just don’t like or want to embrace change. That support has led to myopia and well-documented turgid “development”, with very little having changed in fourteen years. Fact is that today writers want to write on any device, at any time. Scrivener, largely because of the blind alley of RTF development, can’t offer that. It was built in a time before cloud services were a thing. Instead of rebuilding the app to work in the cloud-service age, the developer stuck with RTF and has ended up with an iPhone app that is a pain to sync and very limited in its capabilities. Other modern apps are the way forward. As someone who tested Scrivener before launch, when it was in beta, I hope Scrivener will change, but it has lost ground to apps like Ulysses and Obsidian, and it will be hard to lure back those who have abandoned it already. Personally, I know far more people who have given up using Scrivener than who still use it.
Angel Posted on the Obsidian Forum