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Final Draft Writer Review for iPad
Final Draft Writer is Finally Here!
The Final Draft Writer App for the iPad has been a long time coming. The screenwriting software company announced that they were developing an app for the iPad before the first generation iPad came out way back in April 2010. So, is the long awaited app worth the wait?
It comes at a steep price: Final Draft is offering the app for $49.99, That's one of the most expensive iPad apps I've seen so far. Then again, this app is meant purely for screenwriters, meaning that there's only a small percentage of people who would use this app.
The Final Draft Writer App has been a long time coming. I remember, soon after the first iPad came out in April 2010, I was asked by Final Draft to participate in a beta testing of their Final Draft app. You had to be an industry professional working on a movie set and, since I didn't quality, I turned down the opportunity. Here we are almost 3 whole years later and the fully functional screenwriting app I've been waiting for is finally here. But is it worth the wait?
I will go through the features and first impressions of using the Final Draft Writer app on my iPad. I will then compare it to other screenwriting apps to see if it holds up.
And lastly, if you've ever considered developing an iOS app yourself, we wanted to point you to a course that you can take on Udemy.com (an online learning resource). If you use a coupon (we'll provide a link to a coupon website below), you can learn to develop an app for just $10. Here you go:
Image Credit: Final Draft (available in the iTunes Store)
Final Draft Writer Poll
What Kind of Stories Would You Be Writing with Final Draft?
First Impressions of Final Draft Writer
After downloading the app the first thing Final Draft wants you to do is fill out a registration form on their website. There's something lacking in how Final Draft tends to greet their customers: Welcome! Fill out this form. It's a procedural thing, I guess (even Apple makes you agree to those scary Terms and Conditions). The registration is so you can have access to their free customer support, in case you have any problems.
The process is painless, thoug: the app opens up your Safari browser and you fill out a quick form. One unexpected benefit of this is that Final Draft sends you a coupon code for 20% off either the desktop version of Final Draft or other services they provide.
If you don't yet have the desktop version of Final Draft then this could come in handy!
Final Draft's Keyboard Features
When you get to the writing you'll notice that Final Draft has an extra bar of features on top of the regular iPad keyboard. The iPad's screen is all about economy, and so each feature is a little picture instead of a word describing what it is. After a few minutes I figured it out. For those of you that use Final Draft you know that you can switch between "Scene Heading" to "Character Name" to "Action Sequence" by hitting the "Tab" key repeatedly.
I found myself starting to use the quick button features instead of 'tab' after a while. It's often annoying to toggle between "tab" and "backspace" when you press a button one too many times. This way you can press exactly which kind of writing you want to do and it will do it.
If you can't read my silly diagram, the quick buttons are, in order from right to left:
2. Description of Action
3. Character Selection
4. Character Direction (parentheticals)
5. Character Dialogue
6. Scene Transitions (i.e. Cut To:, Fade In, etc.)
Final Draft Writer's Features
Almost Every Feature You Need
For the kind of price you're paying for Final Draft Writer, you better get all the bells and whistles. And indeed, you get (almost) every feature of the desktop version has:
1. Templates for Film, TV and Drama Scripts
2. SmartType: this feature remembers your character names, scene-headings, etc.
3. Scriptnotes: Most writers aren't fans of script notes in the first place, but they are here to stay. Script notes enables others to give you notes, as well as you giving notes to yourself (i.e. between drafts) and keeping track of all of them.
4. Switch from one set of revisions to another
5. Character Highlighting - this enables you to keep track of certain characters or actions. This is handy for table readings.
6. The phrases "More" and "Continued" are all automatically applied to the script.
7. You can easily add/edit Header and Footer tags.
When I said almost all features, I noticed that there is no option to export your script as a 'pdf''. I'm not sure why Final Draft omitted this feature, but it does make for an inconvenience for people that need to send in scripts in .pdf format.
My Mission: Write a Script with Final Draft Writer
After playing with this app for a few hours, I've realized that I have all the tools I need to write a script completely on my iPad.
I've had a story idea that's been kicking around in my head for a the past few weeks. I've decided that I'm going to use this new app as an excuse to write it.
I'll update this page as I write the script, and point out my impressions of the app as I write. It's one thing to spend a few hours with an app, it's another to spend hours a day with it. Keep checking back and I'll let you know how it's going.
Buy Final Draft 8.0 (Desktop Version) from the Writer's Store
While Final Draft Writer is equipped with enough features to function as a standalone app, it works best when you pair it with the desktop version. Having it on your desktop makes the process of emailing prospective agents and studios that much easier. Collaborating with fellow writers on projects is also much easier on the desktop version. If you're serious about writing for film or TV then Final Draft is a must.
Using a Bluetooth Keyboard with Final Draft Writer - I recommend it, but It depends where your strengths are.
A screenshot of Final Draft with Bluetooth enabled.
I've been going back and forth between writing with a bluetooth keyboard and using the on-screen keyboard.
When you use the keyboard, the extra buttons still appear at the bottom of the screen, meaning that you have more screen real estate to focus on the writing itself. I may be biased in this regard, since I've never gotten used to using the iPad's on-screen keyboard for an extended period of time.
I actually found myself writing for a couple of hours, getting used to the flow of typing on my keyboard, and reaching up and selecting options I wanted. It was pretty intuitive to use (although there will probably be an adjustment each time you go back and forth between the desktop and the iPad app.
Bluetooth Keyboards from Amazon
Bluetooth keyboards make for easier writing over long periods. I use Apple's Bluetooth Keyboard (listed below), but there are others that also function as covers for your iPad.
I think I'm going to try the Menotek keyboard below...it's a flexible one that you can roll up (which I think is supremely cool) and it's also waterproof. It might make for a good camping keyboard...another way to make all my camper friends roll their eyes at me...
My Conclusions (ongoing):
Final Draft Writer is a Game-Changer
It's long overdue, but the Final Draft Writer is the best and most fully featured screenwriting app on the iPad. It also goes a step further in legitimizing the iPad as a device you can use to do serious work. Software developers have long treated the iPad with kid gloves, stripping out all but the most bare-bones functions for their apps.
These tablets can be more than playthings and this app goes a long way towards helping the world realize it.