It’s long, long overdue, but my latest book from Adobe Press / Peachpit is nearly done! We’re wrapping up layout and final editing this week, with a goal of shipping in the last week of September. I’ll have some treats and samples in the next couple of weeks to share, but in the mean time I wanted to express my gratitude for a couple of tools that actually let me do my work with minimal fuss: Scrivener and Capto. There are lots of options out there, but these two have been my go-to apps for writing articles, columns, and books for the last several years.
This is the one piece of my workflow that makes everything possible. From capturing initial ideas to planning full books on a corkboard style layout, Scrivener is kind of my not-so-secret crush for writing applications. There’s a pretty thorough review over on SoftwareHow that covers the details with a lot of good insight.
While Scrivener will set you back about $45 (look for sales and deals, though), it is completely worth the cost. I also have an iPad license that saved my bacon a few times because you can sync your projects on the cloud, and keep right on rolling. Fantastic for working mobile or when inspiration strikes.
I realize screen capture software isn’t exciting, so don’t expect a lot of fanfare here. What I like about Capto is that it saves your captures to an in-app library, and that it gives you options for preparing different file formats depending on whether you export, drag/drop, or copy/paste. Yes, every method can result in a different file format, which is really handy. I like to sort my captures in Capto, then drag the selects to Bridge as TIFF files.
There are several other cool features, such as saving an entire scrolling web page as a single image, capturing video, etc. But my favorite feature by far is being able to set a capture area for consistent screen shots of the exact same area every single time. This is a must-have for showing development of images and giving collections a professional polish.
While I also rely on Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat, as well, those are behemoth programs that I feel almost forced to use. Word especially annoys me, but I have to admit the commenting features are best in class – and they still need some serious work to avoid crowding and confusion. Acrobat does look great, and makes some tasks very easy; I just wish it were more stable and had a more intuitive UI.
Aside from Photoshop, the tools above are essential to how I work. When starting a project, I always look around to see if there’s something better. The fact that I’ve stuck with the same combo for so long while constantly reviewing the market should tell you that I have a lot of confidence in them, and that is worth quite a lot. I think I’ve used Scrivener for nearly ten years, now, and every time I go wandering, I end up right back in its comforting but not distracting glow.