Better Final Draft support coming...

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KB
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Sat Feb 02, 2008 9:33 pm Post

Hi,

This should hopefully be good news to scriptwriters who use Final Draft:

Sometime last year I got in touch with Kirsten Thayer, the Final Draft project manager, to enquire about access to their format for import and export support in Scrivener. To my surprise - I had always thought of FD as a big company and assumed they'd just ignore a fly like me - she replied very enthusiastically, saying that she would do what she could to help Scrivener work better with Final Draft. Turns out FD started out pretty much like Scrivener (two guys with an idea instead of one), they had heard of and liked Scrivener and were keen to help others integrate with FD.

The upshot of all this is that they gave me access to their .fcf format. This is the Final Draft File Converter Format. And I'm now at the stage where I should be ready to implement this for 1.12 or 1.13 at the latest. What does this mean? Well, this is how I see it happening:

- You will be able to export scripts in .fcf format from Scrivener instead of having to use plain text. Final Draft will be able to open these scripts and recognise the various script elements.

- You will be able to import scripts in .fcf format. When you import such a file, Scrivener will ask you which Scrivener script format you would like to convert it to, and ask you to match up the elements if they don't match already (e.g. FCF Scene Heading to Scrivener Scene Heading - just in case the internal numbers don't match). Normally you will just hit enter at this point and won't have to worry about that unless you have a custom script format. Then Scrivener will convert the file to match the script format you chose so that all the elements will be recognised in Scrivener, too.

In other words, it should make round tripping from Scrivener to Final Draft and back much easier. It should also mean less faffing around trying to get your Scrivener script format to recognise the elements of the RTF file you imported from FD - it will all be done for you.

At the same time, I'm also experimenting with a page view for Scrivener. I've always said that Scrivener IS NOT A PAGE LAYOUT PROGRAM and this remains true. The page view will be aimed mainly at scriptwriters, though anybody will be able to use it. It will use the text inset set by the margins in the preferences, and there is no question of it having real footnotes, widows and orphans support, or keeping character names and dialogue on the same page - that sort of stuff will remain the domain of a dedicated layout program such as Word or Final Draft. Footnotes and annotations will remain inline, and paragraphs will continue to break across pages...

However, the page view will fit into Scrivener's philosophy of "what's on screen isn't necessarily what you get on the page", too: fiction writers will be able to set it up so that the pages don't necessarily follow printer settings. In other words, you could set up the screen so that it looks like the pages of a paperback book, but print on A4 in standard manuscript format.

Pages view will remain very simple and will not be a focus of much development - I cannot stress this enough. Scrivener will *never* be a page layout program - the main impetus for the pages view is for screenwriters who need to work in pages. Any pleadings for widows and orphans or mores and continueds will result in the withdrawal of this feature altogether. ;)

There is no strict timeline on any of this, of course. :)

I would like to take this opportunity to say a big THANK YOU to the guys at Final Draft for being so enthusiastic about Scrivener and for giving me exclusive access to the FCF format.

Comments welcome.

All the best,
Keith

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Wock
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Sat Feb 02, 2008 9:36 pm Post

Nice!

Look forward to the changes.
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antony
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Sat Feb 02, 2008 11:35 pm Post

This. Is. AWESOME.

Seriously, it would remove the only remaining (slight) headache for me when using Scriv to draft comic scripts.
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Sun Feb 03, 2008 12:54 am Post

Keith,
I'm sure you are well aware of this already, but just be careful introducing a page view.

I can see adding even minimal support for a page view may escalate into a lot more feature requests for page layout features etc. and it might cause you more pain to have a "half-implemented" feature than the benefit.

See that post about using Scrivener as a browser and a database for the kind of thing I am talking about!

Matt

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KB
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Sun Feb 03, 2008 1:21 am Post

I'm aware that a page view could be trouble - especially when it comes to feature requests. That's why I have held off on such a feature and always said that Scrivener would never have such a thing. However, it won't be half-implemented - it will be as good as TextEdit's or Bean's or WriteRoom's. None of those apps feature footnote support or widows and orphans or keep-characters-and-dialogue-together either. And that's just how it will be in Scrivener. It will be hidden away in the menus (View > Editor > Pages/Scroll) and off by default. I won't make a big deal of it or mention it on the product page. And all those word-processory features won't be up for negotiation. Word and Final Draft et al exist for that sort of thing. It will be a simple implementation for those who need to work in pages - the scriptwriters. Actually, it will look almost identical to "Fixed Width" mode except with a few horizontal dividing lines to show where pages would go. The absolute main thing is that it should not impinge on anyone else and should not make anyone feel as though Scrivener is branching off to try to be something it's not. I do feel like adding a big dialogue box when you first use the mode - "Scrivener is not a page layout app!". And I may test page layout in the beta testing and decide to abandon it. But it's worth trying out, even if it is ultimately abandoned. But I have always liked the idea of having a view that looks like I'm writing into a paperback book and then exporting to A4 manuscript format.

It may be that everyone says "No! Don't do it!" and I'll backtrack. Hence I'm announcing it here for debate, and will encourage folk to try out the beta when it's ready.

The Final Draft thing - FCF support - is less controversial and more exciting, though.

Best,
Keith

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Sun Feb 03, 2008 1:27 am Post

While I agree with matt, I (and maybe the rest of the nay-sayers) should remember that this is your baby. I actually like the idea of writing into a book. I just don't know if it is worth the traffic that matt mentions (I was one of those looking for scriv to do more initially).

I do like the big pop up though. Especially for unregistered copies. Make sure you add data base, time line, "get things done", web browser, media editor and bread slicer to the list. ;)

Although a sweet tea/beer dispenser option would be welcome.
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Sun Feb 03, 2008 2:19 am Post

It will be a simple implementation for those who need to work in pages - the scriptwriters.


Well, er, then, if you can get it to work, how about making pagination only occur in script mode?

That way, those passionate about seeing pages would have to write scripts which might improve the submission rate to the Beeb.

Dave

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Sun Feb 03, 2008 3:29 am Post

KB wrote:I'm aware that a page view could be trouble - especially when it comes to feature requests. That's why I have held off on such a feature and always said that Scrivener would never have such a thing. However, it won't be half-implemented - it will be as good as TextEdit's or Bean's or WriteRoom's.


I hope you didn't take offence at the "half-implemented" - I wasn't suggesting it would be a poor or half-hearted job, but just that you will get some users assuming other page layout features will be there, who might complain when they are not (much like those surprised you don't have a fully-integrated web browser capable of forward/back, favourites and file uploads :D).


KB wrote:But it's worth trying out, even if it is ultimately abandoned. But I have always liked the idea of having a view that looks like I'm writing into a paperback book and then exporting to A4 manuscript format.


Certainly it is worth trying in beta to see how it feels within Scrivener (that's one of the joys of beta testing).

When you say "writing into a paperback book" - does this mean you will have a page view that shows 2 pages side by side? That might be a very cool thing to have (especially in full screen - will this extend to full screen?)

I do quite like the idea myself and would certainly like to experiment with it (although I am also comfortable without it). I just hope it doesn't cause too many extra headaches for you.

KB wrote:The Final Draft thing - FCF support - is less controversial and more exciting, though.


Yes, that is good news. It is always good when "bigger" vendors are cooperative like that.

Sorry for shifting the focus to the less important half of the annoucement...

Matt

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Sun Feb 03, 2008 5:23 am Post

I think a page view would be fantastic, but on the surface it sounds like a lot of hard work.

I'll certainly give it a good hammering though ... :-)

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Sun Feb 03, 2008 7:53 am Post

KB wrote:Any pleadings for widows and orphans or mores and continueds will result in the withdrawal of this feature altogether. ;)


Mmm .. that reminds me; must call mother ... :)

This does sound a lot like the full screen view when it's not expanded to the full width of the screen.

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Sun Feb 03, 2008 8:44 am Post

This is very, very good news. It will make it much easier to stay in Scrivener even after initial drafting.

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KB
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Sun Feb 03, 2008 10:27 am Post

For those interested, here is a test app showing the page layout view I have put together for Scrivener:

http://www.literatureandlatte.com/dlbet ... utTest.zip

It has the same limitations as page layout views in other Cocoa shareware apps - TextEdit, WriteRoom, Bean, Storyist etc - in that if you delete text at the end so that a page should be removed, the page won't actually get removed until you start typing again, but I can live with that given that it's a widespread issue and there's no easy fix.

Best,
Keith

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Sun Feb 03, 2008 10:38 am Post

Great :)
I can see why Final Draft support will be good for Screenwriters!
For me, page layout is a dream come true :) It it were possible to have 2 pages side by side where I can "see" how it would look in a real book, writing would be much easier!

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KB
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Sun Feb 03, 2008 10:49 am Post

For the record, there is no plan for two page layout at this time.
Best,
Keith

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Sun Feb 03, 2008 1:10 pm Post

You could call it 'Script View' instead of Page View. That'll keep them at bay. :)