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Simple, elegant screenwriting.

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Saturday
Jul312010

Celtx Script for iPhone and iPad

Kudos to Celtx for figuring out exactly what to include and what to leave out when designing a screenwriting app for mobile devices. Celtx Script (US$9.99) is the first iPad screenwriting app that “just works” in the way that Apple users expect. This is a welcome surprise given how clunky and homely the desktop Celtx application is on OS X.

Celtx Script on the iPad is as simple and elegant as one would hope. You can do most of what you need to just by typing. In portrait view you have a distraction-free view of your script. In landscape, there’s a handy scene list to the right for navigation.

Landscape view has a centering problem where the last character is cut off on the right. I trust that this is an easy bug to fix.

A feature I would love for both the iPad and the desktop version is folders in the scene list. Color-coding scenes would also be nice.

Notice how I praise the app for its minimalism and then request new features. See how difficult life is for developers?

Speaking of which, the developers were caught by surprise with Celtx Script hitting the App Store on a Saturday, so while the free Celtx Sync function would work between an iPhone and an iPad running Celtx Script, there was no way to sync between the free desktop Celtx and your mobile device. One of the developers managed to get the free syncing plug-in posted within a few hours though. Once you get the plug-in installed, you can import a screenplay from the free cloud backup using desktop Celtx’s Script > Import Script > From iPhone/iPad menu item. There’s a corresponding Export option as well. It’s not quite the same thing as a true Google Docs-style cloud sync, but it’s close, and it’s free.

I would love some assurance from the Celtx team about the security of the cloud storage.

I’m delighted that someone finally made a solid and elegant screenwriting solution for the iPad. That it works on the iPhone as well and syncs with free desktop software makes the $10 price a bargain.

Many folks asked why I ignored Celtx in my last screenwriting post. My answer was that it didn’t provide any features missing from my various other tools. That just changed in a big way.

Looking for screenwriting resources? You can follow my screenwriting list on Twitter, and check out my recommended screenwriting books at the ProLost Store.

Reader Comments (9)

This is great news.

But, I wish Adobe Story could do this too. I use the Adobe Production Suite, and it would be nice to go from script all the way through to web-publishing/blu-ray with Adobe. Especially seeing how they integrate meta-data, speech analysis, etc....

July 31, 2010 | Registered Commenterbrandon herman

I too have high hopes for Adobe Story. The nice thing about an app like Celtx Script is that it pushes all the screenwriting software developers to do better. It shows how badly Story needs to be on mobile platforms, and it shows Final Draft that it's not enough to make a mobile app, you need cloud syncing too.

July 31, 2010 | Registered CommenterStu

Definitely. And I still use both, although more and more Adobe Story simply because I'm such an Adobe fanboy.

There's an app called Adobe Ideas that is rough now, but could be good for quick on-set ideas and rough storyboarding. It's not quite ready for primetime, but it could be good eventually.

July 31, 2010 | Registered Commenterbrandon herman

My iPhone (3Gs) won't go into landscape. Anyone else see that?

August 1, 2010 | Registered CommenterMark Moser

Thrilled to see this addition. I had purchased Scripts Pro but lost interest. Now I'll purchase Celtx and give it a try. The one feature I don't see -- either with the iPad or desktop app -- is the ability to export as an FDX file. That's one nice feature of Scripts Pro for iPad.

So I'm scratching my head as to what I'll have to go through to import what I write on the iPad into Scrivener (as a stepping stone to Final Draft).

So far the only solution I see is...

After syncing the iPad document to Celtx desktop, I can export from there as a TXT file. But after importing into Scrivener I then have to convert the document into screenplay format using Convert > Formatting to Compile Text Style, and then step through the lines of text to assign each element's formatting (Scene, Action, Character, etc.). That's time consuming.

Anybody else have a better solution?

Or is this just going to be a closed system, back and forth between Celtx iPad and Celtx desktop?

August 1, 2010 | Registered CommenterGerry

I've been using Final Draft for years professionally and would love LOVE LOVE! to be able to use something else. I know I'm not the only one, either. Final Draft is really quite an annoying program to use, especially it seems when you're depending on it the most.

I tried Celtx a while back and was really disappointed. Even just basic writing is rough enough, not to mention all the features it's lacking that someone working in the business needs.

I have an iPhone but honestly I have never once thought of writing a screenplay on it.

I wish they would have put their energy into actually fixing some of the bugs and adding much needed features that Final Draft has had for years (revisions, locking, customizations, reliable page numbering, decent PDF output, etc. etc. etc.)

August 1, 2010 | Registered CommenterAllen D

Allen D,

Totally agree with you. I had a bad customer support call over activation which made me start rooting for someone else to usurp the throne. Plus, a word processor should not be (as) buggy as FD in it's eighth revision.

I love the spirit and promise of Celtx. Stu is somewhat generous in calling the desktop app "clunky and homely"; it's not easy on the eyes. It desperately needs the fixes you list. New features should be tabled until the app has the basics down - centering the script during fullscreen mode would be a start.

Stu - Thanks for what you do.

August 2, 2010 | Registered CommenterHerbert Massey

Agree with previous FD comments. I adopted the Scrivener/Final Draft combination in order to work outside FD for as long as possible, and to take advantage of Scrivener's superior notecards feature in working with 'chunks' of text -- as detailed by Stu in The State of Screenwriting Software.

Because Scrivener can import/export FDX files, the ideal for me would be an iPad app that also imports/exports in the FDX format. I could then easily move screenplay files back and forth between Scrivener and the iPad app. It wouldn't be a cloud-sync situation, but it would be the next best thing.

August 2, 2010 | Registered CommenterGerry

Stu - just noticed that a Save the Cat! iPhone app has come out.

Not having actually read Synder's legendary script writing book, I'm probably not best placed to say how strong the app version is for it's £11.99... But it does seem to feature the famous structuring devices, and most importantly a movable card system for getting the backbone of a story down quickly.

January 2, 2011 | Registered CommenterGonzo
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