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Questions about SmartEdit Writer

So I found SmartEdit Writer (then Atomic Scribbler) when I was looking for an alternative to Scrivener, which is a bit too pricey for me. I’m glad I found this program and love that 1) it’s free and 2) it allows for your story and research to all be in one place. However, I do have some questions about it.

  • I write a lot of short stories, which are usually in an individual document (or scene, to use SEW’s phrasing). Is it possible to just have an unnamed scene?

  • Is there a way to update SEW w/o uninstalling the app? I have it on windows 10 and for some reason, when I tried to update it to v7.1 it wouldn’t let me and I had to uninstall and reinstall.

  • Is it possible to use SEW on multiple computers?

Yes, you can create a scene and leave the name blank, but why would you want this? If you have two unnamed scenes you won’t be able to tell which is which.

You shouldn’t need to uninstall in order to install the latest version. If you’re having installation failures, there’s an alternate download link on each post for that release. SmartEdit Writer 7.1 released

I’m assuming you mean opening the same project on multiple computers. This topic in the Knowledge Base addresses that question in detail: https://www.smart-edit.com/Writer/Knowledge/Page/MultiplePCs/

Just to clarify a little about WHY it’s risky to locate SEW projects on Dropbox (since a few people have asked me why they shouldn’t do this with SEW, InDesign, etc.), here’s a quick overview.

When you’re editing a document, most software will have several files open at once, covering different part of the main document. During the editing process, the document is no longer a single file. With SEW and certain other editors (e.g., Scrivener, MAC editors), a document is never a single file – it’s a folder full of fragments in their own files. These fragment files are managed by the editor software so the whole process feels like editing a single document file, but it’s not.

The upshot of all this is that when you stop editing, several different files have to be safely written to the cloud before the document is fully closed and saved. Unfortunately, Dropbox (and the cloud itself) is subject to the performance limitations of the internet, so that last file update might not happen until several minutes after you have exited SEW (or InDesign or Scrivener, etc.). In other words, there’s no failsafe way to be absolutely certain when your document is fully saved in the cloud.

Re-opening a cloud document, on the same pc or on a different one, runs the risk of starting to make new changes on files that are not (yet) truly current. The variety of things that can go mysteriously wrong because of this is not only surprising, but also hard to detect and manage.

That’s why using this kind of editing software on cloud-based documents is generally considered to be Very Risky Business.

I’ve lived long enough to have lived through crashes and internet lack of availability. What I have done is written a batch file that runs SEW (count me as a lover of the Atomic Scribbler moniker, for whatever that’s worth) and then upon closure, copies ALL files in the data folder for SEW to a folder connected to a cloud backup service. Then, later at night when the ball game is on TV, my computer does a complete disk image that gets saved to an external hard drive. And once a week, the whole backup system winds up on Amazon Glacier.

As I tell all who figure to listen to me, you’re backed up when you have a local copy, a copy on an external device and a copy in the cloud. I just happen to double up on everything. Plus, you MUST have a backup that allows your computer to be duplicated if something goes awry. I average about a decade between awry’s.

And, experience being what it is, I can tell you you CANNOT have enough backups. Just this week, my Bridge partner and his girlfriend were robbed while he was out celebrating his birthday. All computer equipment was taken. He’s very thankful for listening to me about cloud backup even when it meant leaving the computer on and running when he was out playing. Follow ATC’s advice at a minimum, but DO find a way to back your data up as many times as you can.

Well, once again I totally agree! I back up my backups. Not “intentionally,” but as a consequence of having so many different backup mechanisms in operation. Is it overkill? Probably, but who cares?

I heartily recommend an ancient utility called Second Copy, which uses your custom profiles to keep an eye on specific folders and copy whatever changed into a second folder, which can be a zip file, or on other drives or the network. I wrote an app to do this about 22 years ago, and about 20 years ago discovered that Centered Systems had done the same thing, only better, so I paid them $30 and it has saved my bacon many times since then. It doesn’t get updated often, because it’s solid as a rock and doesn’t change – which enhances its reliability enormously. Very flexible settings, and well worth a close look – secondcopy.com.

Allen

I just realized that the “generations” feature of Second Copy won’t be easy to use, since there is not a one-to-one correspondence between an SEW “document” and any single file. The current second copy will be coherent, but any archived generations won’t be.

This is why any editors I’ve written in the past always kept the components in a single ZIP file. It made it easier for users to understand, and it facilitated backups and overall coherence of the dataset that constitutes a document. Many Windows apps do this, and it makes more sense to me than the Apple approach, where some folders are “disguised” as documents, even though they contain multiple files. I feel that the correspondence between a document and a file, though conceptual in the Apple universe, is significantly easier to manage when it’s also a physical correspondence.

So I guess my wild enthusiasm over Second Copy is of limited utility to most SEW users, unless they twig to the inner workings of the SEW pseudo-document model.

As Emily Latella would say, “Nevermind.”

Allen

Off-topic –

Speaking of zip files masquerading as single documents (which of course they are, disc-wise), the file format for eBooks is generally exactly that – a zip file, containing (of all things) a website. If you take an epub and change the file extension to .zip, you can open it up, and you can then display the ebook (which is all html and css) in a browser. Not so with copy-protected ebooks, of course, such as Kindle.

Allen

Allen, as for a backup software that might suit your process, have a look at SuncBack ‘SE’. Not the free version but either the SE or PRO version. The PRO version is only for someone you runs a server. So the SE version is what you may like.

I run multiple backups on locally attached USB HDs and it saved my b*** multiple times just like you.

You can find SyncBack at www.2BrightSparks.com. Read up on the different versions and decide for yourself. The latest version v9 was just released and now even includes versioning. :slight_smile:
Hans

Thanks, Hans – I’ll take a look at SyncBack SE. It should be simple to configure Second Copy to copy an entire folder if one file in that folder has changed, but I don’t think it can do that. I’ll also see if I can talk Centered Systems into adding that option.

Allen