Tips: An Alfred Workflow for Launching .scriv Files in Marked and Scrivener Simultaneously

(UPDATE Jan. 2017: A kind visitor recently let me know that the original workflow I created years ago, had stopped functioning properly. I’ve since fixed it and wrote a follow up post here).

A heads up: As the title implies, this post assumes (or, in a way, suggests) that you have purchased Scrivener, Marked and the Powerpack option in Alfred 2.

One of Scrivener’s shortcomings (yes, they do exist) as far as Markdown support is concerned, is its inability to give an HTML preview of your Markdown syntax while you write in it. There is no workflow for accomplishing this other than exporting your MD or MMD, opening it in another editor that reads MD (or the converted html) and checking it there before cutting and pasting the code into your blog’s editor.

In all fairness, that’s not what Scrivener was created to do and just because I’ve found some slightly unconventional uses for it, I can’t expect the good folks at Literature and Latte to change their software to accommodate lil ole me. We all know Scrivener is much, much bigger than blogging and writing in MD and MMD.

The good news is that even though Scrivener doesn’t have an in-app html preview function for your markdown, there is one program that you can use in tandem with it that can.

That Program is Marked.

You can read about Brett Terpstra’s “Marked” in a slew of different places (including its recommendation in the comments on this site ) so I won’t write a review of it here (maybe another time). In a nutshell though, Marked is a realtime markdown converter that works with any text editor you throw at it. Open a text file in its respective editor, open Marked, then drag the same file into Marked and go back to the text editor to continue writing/editing. As you save your markdown document, you’ll see it update in Marked, displaying the converted HTML instantly.

Cool right? It’s also a game-changer.

Marked and Scrivener

Integrating Marked has made my blogging workflow in Scrivener much more streamlined because of Marked’s handling of MD/MMD as well as its plethora of options and amazing tools for authors. But, that all said, getting a file into each application is clunky at best and almost immediately after doing that a couple of times, I wanted/needed to automate that initial step so that it was smoother.

Enter Alfred

Alfred is another popular tool out there whose sole function is to streamline everyday tasks like launching multiple apps at once, finding files quickly on your computer, searching the web, quitting apps, shutting down or restarting your computer… you get the idea. It does all of this from your keyboard and once you get used to its commands, you’ll get addicted to not touching a mouse or track pad. In truth, it’s one of the first apps I install when I get a new computer.

But aside from these baked-in options that you get for free, you can also pay for the Powerpack option and unlock a slew of very powerful tools that give you immense control over your Mac. One of these tools is the ability to easily create custom workflows. Once I encountered the dilemma above, I dove in and immediately came up with a solution.

Now, one caveat. I am not much of a programmer, so I made my workflow out of the built-in modules that Alfred gives you out of the box. I am sure that with some custom scripting this workflow could be made even nicer (if you have suggestions for improvements leave them in the comments below please). That all said, I was really happy with how this workflow came out. To save you (and I) some time I’ve included a link to the workflow below, so that you can download it and add it to your own personal workflows in Alfred. Just download it, double-click and add it to Alfred. Easy.

The way the workflow works is you bring up your Alfred prompt. Type in the keyword, which in my case is “scrivmarked”, that then allows you to browse your “Documents” directory right in Alfred. Once you find the .scriv file you want to open, arrow down to highlight it and hit the right arrow key where you’ll find a file action to open the file in both Scrivener and Marked, arrow down to that action and hit enter.

AlfredFileAction

Make it Your Own

One of the best things about workflows In Alfred is that you can tweak them to suit your needs relatively easily. Hate my keyword? Choose a different one. Have your Scrivener project files in a different location outside of the Documents directory in OS X? No problem, tweak the search scope. These, and many other aspects of workflows, can be tweaked easily in Alfred without knowing a single line of code.

But, again, if you do know a way to make this better, I’d love it if you posted your modifications in the comments below! I am sure there are many ways to make this workflow even more useful to us all!

Useful links:

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thaddeushunt

Writer, Dreamer, Web Designer, Gardner, Neo-Hippie, Horror Movie Junkie, Hiker, Traveler, CEO and Owner of Conduit Designs, LLC.

9 thoughts on “Tips: An Alfred Workflow for Launching .scriv Files in Marked and Scrivener Simultaneously”

  1. Thaddeus, that’s a nice workflow, thanks for sharing. But there is an alternative, without need to use Alfred. On Marked’s preferences, you can check the option to open the .scriv file, on Scrivener, when you open it first on Marked.

    See the screenshot: http://imgur.com/S3Cja6r

    Best regards,
    Sérgio.

    1. Thanks sjardim! I do know about that setting and I also have it checked. However, for me anyways, when I drag a .scriv file to Marked it opens just Scrivener. It doesn’t open the project file itself. So, it kind of only half works for me. I’d rather only open the project once and have it open in both apps simultaneously than just in Marked and me having to browse through for the same file again to open it in Scrivener. I’ve actually contacted the developer of Marked and he said he was looking into it.

      That all said, I do prefer using just my keyboard and Alfred. So even if it did work properly, I’d probably still use this workflow I think.

      Thanks for the kind words, the link to the screenshot and for stopping by! Hopefully my issue with Marked is isolated to just the few computers that I tried it on.

      Best,

      Tad

  2. Thanks for your blog. It has helped me out a lot when looking into hacking Scrivener.

    If I understood correctly the idea is to make Scrivener WYSIWYG, which IMO contradicts the original idea behind Scrivener, that is, being able to write without worrying what the visual outcome will be.

    Also, I think there are Office suites already that (1) are WYSIWYG without any extra setting up and (2) can export to XHTML.

    Don’t get me wrong though. I’m impressed with this and other hacks you do related to Scrivener. They show that there are workarounds to the shortcomings of Scrivener.

    1. Hey Mikko!

      Thanks for stopping by and for the comment. The idea behind getting Marked to work with Scrivener (or any text editor really) in a more automated fashion, is to afford its users the ability to see their Markdown (or MMD) syntax rendered in real time as they type in Scrivener. Many people starting out with MD/MMD like to see what the finished product is going to look like before they export. It was also a big request on this site, so I thought I’d post a blog on the setup that I often use.

      So it’s not so much of an attempt to make Scrivener more WYSIWYG-like (though I totally see where you got that idea), and more to extend Scrivener’s already baked-in Markdown offerings. You’re right, office suites have been exporting their text editors text in to XHTML for years but, in my experience anyways, I’ve found that generated code (especially in Microsoft’s offerings) to be incredibly bloated and immensely hard to read. I am also a web developer by trade so, my views are admittedly skewed :). In the end, we all use what is most comfortable for us.

      Thanks again for the comment and the kind words. I’m glad you’ve found my site useful to you!

      Take care,

      Tad

      1. Hi, thanks for your writeup and the alfred workflow.
        I’m perhaps extremely late to the game, but today, 28-11-2016, this does not work for me.
        – First thing I found was that in the mean time we are at marked 2, so I dragged that app into the workflow as it had an empty spot where marked should have been.
        – Then I tested, closed down both scrivener and marked 2 > fired up the workflow allright > selected the scriv file, but it only opened scrivener?
        – If I then also manually fire up marked 2 and open the same scriv file then this works, so in principle it should still work.

        Erwin

        1. Thanks Erwin! It’s been a while since I revisited this workflow and you are absolutely right – BOTH Marked and Alfred have received major updates since I wrote his post back in May, 2014.

          Let me have a look and see if there are any fixes and, hopefully, improvements that can be made!

          Cheers,

          Tad

          1. Hey Erwin (and everyone else),

            Just a quick follow up. I’ve since fixed the Alfred workflow (new link above) and written a recent post about it. You can find that here: http://d.pr/Uwrn.

            Thanks again for bringing that my attention.

            Cheers,

            Tad

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