It can safely be argued that Final Draft is the industry-standard application for script writers. But while Final Draft 7 adds a few nice features to the program’s repertoire, this buggy new version doesn’t live up to its predecessors’ good reputation.
The Final Draft workflow has changed little over the last few years, and that’s a good thing. The beauty of Final Draft has always been that it streamlined the mechanics of scriptwriting so your brain could concentrate on the story. Version 7 is no different: Switching between character, action, dialogue, and scene formatting is still effortless. Type a character’s name and click on Enter, and Final Draft automatically formats the document for a line of dialogue. Its SmartType feature can also automatically fill in established characters’ names once you’ve typed the first letter.
Final Draft 7 is a cross-platform product, so script swapping is easy. Its CollaboWriter feature lets multiple users work on the same script simultaneously, and even chat online about it.
The program also provides writers with a set of updated script templates for film, television, and live theater.
Version 7 lets you view two sections of your script in its Panel view — either side-by-side or stacked one on top of the other. This is helpful because it lets you review one section of a script as you write in another.
And version 7 includes a stand-alone application, called Tagger, that lets you break down and make annotations in a script (for elements such as characters, props, and wardrobe), which can then be exported to movie-production scheduling programs such as Write Brothers’ Movie Magic Screenwriter.
While this sounds fantastic, version 126.96.36.199 was filled with bugs. Paging down a script caused the screen to redraw poorly, leaving line artifacts. Cutting and pasting text was hit-or-miss. Even something as fundamental as printing a script caused an instant crash (though turning off the default Format Assistant feature prevented crashes). To compound the problem, Final Draft technical support was unreachable because of the company’s Kafkaesque phone system.
The company acknowledged these problems and said that they’d be remedied by the time you read this. The company has also created a new online knowledge base — available on its Web site — to help with support issues.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
Final Draft 7 needs a lot more work. While the new Panel view and Tagger program are useful, Final Draft 6 users should avoid the upgrade until the kinks are worked out.