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While stage and screenwriters can now pen their latest opus using a laptop at any Starbucks instead of being chained to a desk, the creators of Final Draft are trying to modernize the experience even further by empowering a new generation of scribes armed with only an iPad.
Final Draft Writer expands on the company’s earlier Reader app, a read-only offering that disappointed many screenwriters and playwrights. With Writer, words can now flow straight out of a writer’s head and into the iPad while remaining fully compatible with Mac and PC versions. Writer offers the same great professionally formatted templates for film, television, and stage plays as the desktop version, removing the grunt work of manually adding scene numbers and pagination elements such as “MORE” (for dialogue) and “CONTINUED” (for scene description) that spill over multiple pages.
Starting a new screenplay is a breeze: Tap the + button and choose from four available templates for film, TV, and stage. Name your new epic and a blank white page greets you, ready and waiting to capture your imagination. Final Draft Writer augments the iPad software keyboard with an extra row of icons offering quick access to the most common tools of the trade, including tab, formatting, and style buttons. Writer works best in portrait mode, but supports landscape quite well. When paired with a portable Bluetooth keyboard, users may find few reasons to return to the more expensive ($200) desktop version.
Scrolling through even lengthy scripts is fast and fluid. SmartType remembers frequently used character names, scene headings, and other script elements, freeing writers from repetitive tasks. Writer also offers the ability to quickly switch between revisions and even create production-friendly reports. The desktop version of Final Draft has always spotlighted function over form, and Writer also features a workmanlike UI; that said, it is optimized for the Retina Display of the new iPad, making text and buttons razor-sharp.
Script files created in FDX format using Final Draft 8 for Mac or PC – as well as those created in Writer – can be moved back and forth between desktop and iPad via Dropbox or the more clumsy iTunes File Sharing. There's a missed opportunity here by not including iCloud sync support, but it’s great just to be able to carry around all of your scripts and edit them anytime.
The bottom line. Final Draft Writer sacrifices little in the transition from PC to tablet, making great use of the iPad's touchscreen display. While the often-arduous task of screenwriting has changed little in three decades – and there's still no cure for writer's block – Writer makes the process as effortless and streamlined as it's ever likely to be.
iPad running iOS 5.0 or later
Far cheaper than Mac version, and coupled with a Bluetooth keyboard, it’s actually more usable. Retina-ready UI takes little time to adapt to for desktop users. FDX files interchangeable with Mac/PC version via Dropbox or iTunes.
Some text formatting displays incorrectly. No iCloud sync support or export to PDF, DOC, RTF, or TXT formats; no import other than FDX.