Software Week #2b: Scrivener for Windows

You know how time takes on a different character -- it stretches out, or slows down -- as you travel near the speed of light? (It must be true, since NPR reported on it again last week.) It's kind of like that with Software Week. It's just a week, but it's going to go on all year. We're only on Day Two (previously here, here. and here), but with another update to the Day Two posting.

This one concerns the impending new release of the nonpareil Mac writing program Scrivener. Details here; screen shots below showing a few of its traits.

Two reasons for mentioning this, which I intend to be my last plug for the program until .. well, until the next time. First, the new Mac version promises to have a lot of sophisticated burnishings to what is already a system that's a real breakthrough in usefulness. Check the link above for more. And second: a Windows version is on the way! Details here and here.

Why is the program useful? A variety of modest features that cumulatively show real  understanding of the way actual writers (or research scholars or novelists etc) think and work, as opposed to the needs of "word processors" in a routine office setting. With the shot below, you don't need to have the atmospheric Irish-bog background if you don't want (I have a plain black background when working in full-screen mode), but it's very handy to have a little notes panel you can refer to while you're working on the main document. Yes, you can find other ways to do this; the point is, the program has a large number of such features built in.

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The screen could look as busy as this (below) or as spare as something that resembles a  plain piece of paper, all in a sub-$50 program.
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I won't even try to explain the utility of being able to separate an article or book into discrete chunks, and move them around as your organizational scheme changes. Indeed I'm not really here to make a case for the program -- to each his own in software -- but rather, newshound style, to convey information: Updated Mac version on the way, along with first PC version.
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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