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Deb Robson and Tussah

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« Choosing the breeds for Explore 4 | Main | How I came up with the numbers I used in The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook, part 1 »

January 17, 2012


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Jennifer Leigh

Thanks, Deb. I am going to require a few readings and re-readings to absorb this, but VERY helpful. I also got sucked off by the "You might also like..." into a long wander through the book writing articles. I need to come back to this!


What a great - and organized post, Deb,

We're longtime Mac users here. You might look at Panorama , much more versatile than Bento. There's a free trial, great support, forums, etc.

Deborah Robson

Jennifer, there's a lot here. I'm delighted to hear it's helpful. I've been writing since carbon-paper days. I bought my first computer simply to reduce the number of times I had to type fresh copies of the same manuscripts. Scrivener is the best thing since fountain pens.

Merna, thanks for your comments. I know that Scrivener has the capacity to mark the completion status of various elements, and a number of other functions that I chose *not* to use, even though I found out about them part way in. (I really did hit the ground running with the program, and *it let me do that.*) I'll take a look at Panorama right now. Bento is working reasonably well, but I am hitting a few walls with it. Now and then I need to go for a walk and think about what I'm trying to do and come up with a workaround. That's within the first week of serious use.

Scrivener's never made me do that {grin}.

Deborah Robson

Bento @ $50 and Panorama @ $299: it'll be Bento for the foreseeable future, although I've filed a note to check out Panorama again in a year or so.


I have no experience with it (was put off because of the price tag), but a friend tested both Bento and FileMaker Pro keeping in mind what I need it to do and reported that he felt FileMaker was much more robust than Bento. I was unwilling to invest, but I may now that it is 1/2 off with the purchase of the app.


Fascinating! Almost (yes, almost) makes me want to write a book :)

Deb Robson

Veronik, thanks for the clue about the special offer for Filemaker Pro (good until some time in March). Filemaker wasnt on my list because of price.

Dina Fullerton

Wow, Deb. A master class right here on how to write a thesis (or book, or anything for that matter.) You are an incredibly organized person and you know so much. I'm grateful you are willing to share your knowledge on so many subjects.

Deb Robson

Thanks, Dina. It was a HUGE job and I trained for years to do it! {grin}

By the way, I just made my reservations for the hotel for Maryland Sheep Wool. Im teaching there. But youre up in Connecticut now! (Im glad youre back on your home turf.)

Diana Troldahl

Thanks for this, Deb. I am beginning to file my fiction aspirations and leaning toward non-fiction. If it goes well, I think Scrivener is on my wishlist.

Deb Robson

Oh, Diana, get Scrivener no matter what! Play with it now. The trial period is very generous: its by usage amounts, rather than a ticking clock-related calendar. You will really be able to test it out. And its not expensive, once you do discover you cant do without it.


I got so curious that I downloaded the Scrivener 30 days free trial to see if I can use it for my fiber and spinning studies. And of course I can. It's amazing! Thank you so much Deb!

Deb Robson

Ah, youre welcome, Barbro! So glad to be able to help. The Scrivener trial is 30 days of *use*, not of calendar time.

I have been so grateful for that software-testing model. I often download software and then its a week before I can start trying it, another week before I have a chance to get back to it, two weeks before I have my third opportunity to open it . . . and then the trials over and I havent figured out yet whether it will work for me. The developer of Scrivener is confident enough that his software will become indispensible that he really lets you become totally dependent on it within the trial period {grin}. Its fully functional, too. I happily paid for the software before the 30 days were up because I couldnt imagine working without it.

Have fun!


I'm having fun :) I started by gathering files I have about Shetland sheep, spinning, photos, and writing the documentation on the yarn I'm spinning at the moment, all in one Scrivener project. I'm very pleased!

Deb Robson

Barbro, this makes me really happy to hear. Shetlands are a great place to start with Scrivener! Its a complicated, delightful breed.


I really enjoyed this post (and have enjoyed reading your posts for quite some time). Looking for a good excuse to try out Scrivener.

Regarding Bento/FileMaker, I have used both and (without checking for certain) I am pretty sure Bento can't do a true relational database. If you wanted to track where you got your fleece (multiple from same source, same breed), the specific breed and details, perhaps the specific sheep/animal, how you spun it (multiple samples), which sources referenced which breeds, and so forth, I think you might end up needing FileMaker. I've stopped using FileMaker since currently all I'm doing is tracking a book library, yarn stash, and the like--very simple and I like to sync to my iPad/iPhone, particularly when I go shopping. But if I wanted to do anything much more complex I would probably have to go back to FileMaker. Can't speak to Panorama. Was also wondering if you had stumbled across or tried Mendeley for bibliographic data?

Looking forward to hearing more about how your tools inventory develops!

Deb Robson

Janet, Ive downloaded a trial of FileMaker since Veronik let me know it was on sale (I had an e-mail about it, but it was in the too many e-mails filter, so would have missed the notice). Thanks for your additional input on the Bento/FileMaker pondering. I was concerned that I was running into limitations with Bento within a week of starting to use it. I hate to WASTE (in my opinion) hours learning software to discover it doesnt work. But Id hate to waste more only to switch later. I did discover that Lynda.com has tutorials for FileMaker, which I take as a good sign. They had some for Bento, but stopped two versions ago.

I *do* want to track all those things you are listing--and more.

I have stumbled across Mendeley. I have heard good things. Yet Mendeley does not yet work easily with Scrivener, and Bookends (and some other programs) do. That was a deal-breaker for me, as you might imagine {grin}.


Another note on FileMaker: there is a database design/layout feature (somewhat graphical if I recall correctly) that lets you set up your database tables and link them to each other. You might want to see if lynda.com addresses that functionality specifically in any of their tutorials. Given the scope of what I imagine you might want to be tracking, your database doesn't sound trivial! But it does sound kinda fun!
Good luck, and be interested to know how you make out,

Deb Robson

Janet, my needs are definitely not trivial. Assuming I can get the right tool, it *should* be fun. Sort of tedious at the beginning, though! Lynda.com does have an essentials training, plus one on setting up a database from scratch. I was tempted to skip to #2, but figured I might regret it later. BOTH courses appear to cover linking, which will be absolutely essential for me. Im already four or five segments into the essentials course . . . before I got distracted by the need to do my mileage summaries for 2011, changing the handwritten to the spreadsheet.


Hmmm, have you considered Evernote? It would be excellent for the collecting research and ideas. Plus it is possible to use it completely for free. (Plus you get to use it with Skitch on Mac, which is a seriously cool app.)
Also, for the bibliographic needs, Zotero? It used to work only with Firefox, but it looks like it now has other options, which I find really exciting.

Deborah Robson

Thanks, bibliotecaria. I use Evernote, but have overburdened it. Skitch looks very cool indeed! Zotero does now work with other browsers, but not with Scrivener.

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