Final Draft 8, the industry-standard scriptwriting software, has finally come to the Mac App Store. Even for those of you who have never written a movie script, you've seen the fruits of labor of the app used by those writers. Before Christian Bale utters a menacing threat to a criminal in a Batman movie or Ashton Kutcher cracks a joke on Two and a Half Men, their words were written on Final Draft.
AMong its features, Final Draft 8 includes Scene View, which allows writers to drag and drop scenes in the order they want them to appear in the script, split-screen writing so you can be at two places in your script at once and Format Assistant, which checks to make sure your layout and more applies to industry-standard rules.
Now while I love Final Draft, it's important to note that the version released on the Mac App Store is the same one that's been available for a while now. There are no big new features that should warrant owners of the current version to switch.
However, if you are thinking of buying Final Draft 8, do it through the Mac App Store and not through the website. Until Final Draft 8 became available on the Mac App Store, the software had one of the most burdensome registration processes ever. Instead of relying on a serial number for registration, users had to enter challenge and authorization codes online or over the phone, and if you lost one of those codes (as I have in the past) it was easier to buy a new copy of the software than trying to get the people at Final Draft to reactivate your copy. Users who buy Final Draft through the Mac App Store never have to worry about this again.
While I do recommend that anyone who writes scripts for a living use Final Draft, that's not to say the software is without its drawbacks. First off, the UI is beginning to show its age. Also, there is cheaper software, such as Scrivener, that gives Final Draft a serious run for its money. But the main problem I have with Final Draft is they are usually slow to adopt new technology. This is no more apparent than using the software in OS X 10.7 Lion. As it stands now, Final Draft doesn't take advantage of Lion's new features such as Versions, iCloud document syncing, full-screen support and Auto Save. It also doesn't take advantage of Lion's Dictionary panel or scroll bars.
The people at Final Draft told me that full-screen support and Auto Save are coming in a future version of the software, but Versions and iCloud document syncing will not be. The reason for this is that Final Draft is developing their own proprietary solution called Final Draft Connect, which will act as an online project-management solution. This makes sense because Final Draft isn't just a Mac app. Its got a massive Windows userbase as well. However, it would be nice if Final Draft would also implement Versions and iCloud document syncing in addition to its proprietary solution.
Final Draft 8 is available on the Mac App Store for US$199.99. That's 20% off its normal $249.99 price. The sale runs until the end of October.