What is Scrivener Syncing?

The Scrivener Syncing feature lets you link events in your timeline with documents in your Scrivener project. Aeon Timeline will keep track of changes made to timeline events or Scrivener documents. Each time you sync, any changes made to the event will be copied across to the corresponding fields for the Scrivener document, and vice versa.

These will most typically be documents for individual scenes or flashbacks that are stored inside your Draft or Manuscript folder, but they can come from anywhere in the Scrivener project.

You can specify which fields in Aeon Timeline and Scrivener are used when syncing. From Scrivener, we support syncing the project title, label, status, synopsis, keywords, and any custom metadata fields that have been created. Almost all values from Aeon Timeline can be included in a sync.

Selecting a Scrivener Project

Data Exchange

To begin syncing your timeline with a Scrivener project:

  1. Close your project if you have it open in Scrivener (Scrivener does not allow opening or editing a project from two different applications at the same time).
  2. Access Synchronise -> Choose Sync Project… from the File menu.
  3. In the Open panel, select your Scrivener project (file extension .scriv on Mac and .scrivx on Windows). If you don’t have a Scrivener project yet, you will need to create one via Scrivener before continuing.

If you are successful, a binder will open within Aeon Timeline showing the contents of your selected Scrivener project. If this is the first time you have synced this timeline with this project, the Sync Settings dialog will appear (see below).

If you try to sync to a project that Scrivener believes is open elsewhere, you will see an error message in the Binder instead of the project contents. In that case, close the Scrivener project and then click Retry.

If Aeon Timeline is giving you that error message and you are sure the file is not open elsewhere, that means the last application to lock that file did not correctly unlock it. In that case, you should open the file with Scrivener, press Continue when it gives you a warning about the project being open elsewhere, and then close the project again to clear the lock.

Sync Settings Dialog

Sync Settings

The sync settings dialog allows you to choose which fields to synchronise between your timeline and your Scrivener document by selecting a value from a dropdown box for each field of your timeline. For each field, you can:

  • Select from one of the relevant existing fields inside your Scrivener project (only relevant fields for a value will be displayed – e.g. keywords can only be synced with tags).
  • Select ‘None’ if you do not wish for a timeline field to be synced to the Scrivener document
  • Select ‘New Custom Field’ if you wish to create a new custom meta-data field inside your Scrivener document to display your timeline value.

It will be quite common to select ‘New Custom Field’ for timeline properties such as Start and End Dates or Duration, as most Scrivener projects will not have fields setup for these values in advance.

If you change your mind and want to include or exclude fields at a later time, you can change your current sync settings by clicking on the Settings icon Cog in the top left corner of the binder when you have your Scrivener project open inside Aeon Timeline.

Starting with an existing Scrivener Project

scriv sync drag 2 with arrow

If you already have an existing Scrivener project you have been working on for some time, and you now wish to create a timeline that matches your Scrivener project, simply perform the following:

  1. Open the Scrivener project inside Aeon Timeline as described above.
  2. Expand folders and documents within the binder tree to find the documents from which you  wish to create new timeline events.
  3. Select a document from the binder and drag it into your timeline to create a new event. Any existing metadata in the document will be copied across to the new event immediately. If there is no metadata for the date or duration already specified in the Scrivener document, the new event will be placed at the date you dragged it to in the timeline.
  4. Repeat this process for all events you wish to create. You can drag multiple Scrivener documents at a time from the binder.
  5. Alternatively, if you right-click on a document in the binder and choose Create event, a new event will be created at the centre of the current timeline window (unless existing Scrivener metadata overrides the dates).

Starting with an existing timeline

scriv sync drag 1 with arrow

Conversely, if you already have an existing timeline you have been working on for some time, and you now wish to push those events into a new Scrivener document, simply perform the following:

  1. Open the Scrivener project inside Aeon Timeline as described above.
  2. Expand folders and documents within the binder tree to find the documents from which you  wish to create new timeline events.
  3. Select events that you wish to add into your Scrivener project, and drag them into the binder. A new document will be created inside Scrivener with all relevant fields copied across from the timeline event.
  4. Repeat this process for all events you wish to create. You can drag multiple events at a time into the binder.

You can safely move documents around inside the binder if you want to change their position. These changes will be reflected when you next open the project inside Scrivener.

If necessary, you can also create new folders or documents inside the Scrivener binder, rename documents, or move them to Scrivener trash using the right-click context menu inside the binder.

Starting with both Timeline and Scrivener Project

link to event scriv

If you are starting with an existing timeline and an existing Scrivener project, this process is a little slower, as you will need to specifically link existing Scrivener documents with existing timeline events.

To do so, you will need to do the following:

  1. Open the Scrivener project inside Aeon Timeline as described above.
  2. Expand folders and documents within the binder tree to find the documents you wish to link to existing events.
  3. Right-click on the document, and choose Link to event… from the context menu.
  4. From the ensuing dropdown, select the timeline event you want to link it to. You can type keywords or an event ID into the search field to narrow down the list of options and find the event you want faster.
  5. Repeat this process for each document/event pair that you wish to link.

Keeping things in sync

Data Exchange

As you continue your work, you will make changes to both the timeline and Scrivener document so that the fields are no longer matched.

Each time you open your Scrivener project inside Aeon Timeline, an icon next to the binder documents will show you the sync status of each document:

  • Document is not yet linkedStatus-NoLink
  • Document and event are up to dateStatus-UpToDate
  • Document or event has changedStatus-Change
  • Conflicting changes to document and event: Status-Conflict
  • Document is marked to be ignored: [no icon]

You can hover your mouse over a document to see a tooltip with additional information about the status, such as which values are conflicted or changed.

Syncing Changes

If one or more documents are marked as changed, click on the Sync All button SyncAllButton at the top of the binder to sync changes for all event/document combinations. Upon clicking this button, any changes you made to Scrivener documents will be copied across to the timeline, and any changes to the timeline will be copied to the Scrivener documents.

Alternatively, if you wish to sync items individually, select those documents you want to sync, right-click, and choose Sync Selection from the context menu.

Resolving Conflicts

If any document is marked as conflicted, that means that you have made conflicting changes to both the Scrivener project and the timeline event (e.g. you have edited the title in each, but to different values).

If conflicts exist, the Sync All button will be disabled until you resolve those conflicts.

To resolve conflicts, right-click on the affected document and choose to either Keep project values or Keep timeline values. Choosing either option will reset all synced values in the other to match your selected option.

Ignoring Documents

If there are documents that you know you will never want to sync, you can choose to permanently ignore those documents by right-clicking on the document and choosing Ignore.

Ignored documents will no longer show a status icon, and you can choose to hide ignored events entirely from your binder (see below).

Binder Display Options

At the bottom of the binder there are two display options that you might find useful.

Binder View Settings

Show Unchanged Items

When this is unchecked, all unchanged items will be removed from the binder (i.e. all items showing Status-UpToDate). The only items showing will be those with changes Status-Change or those that are not yet synced Status-NoLink, plus any parents of those items (to maintain the integrity of the tree structure).

This can significantly reduce the number of documents visible in the binder, making it easier to find items that have changed.

Show Ignored Items

By default, ignored items will be removed from the binder (unless their child documents must be displayed.

When this is checked, those items will be displayed. Allowing you to review the ignored items and potentially drag them onto the timeline or link them with another event.


Bug reports? Suggestions? Feeling lost? Leave your questions or comments below…