Screenwriting software are word processors specialized to the task of writing screenplays. The need for such programs arises from the presence of certain peculiarities in standard screenplay format which are not handled well by generic word processors. A good example would be the formatting and revision-tracking requirements of shooting scripts. The page-break constraints imposed by standard screenplay format are also difficult to implement using standard word processors.
Most of the major screenwriting programs are standalone desktop applications. These include Celtx, DreamaScript, Fade In Professional Screenwriting Software, Final Draft, Scrivener, Montage, Movie Magic Screenwriter, Storyist, Movie Outline, Page 2 stage, Plot Builder, Practical Scriptwriter, Script It! and Sophocles.
Some new solutions are mobile apps which run on mobile devices. This type of application allows users to create new scripts as well as import existing scripts from major screenwriting programs such as Final Draft and Celtx. This includes Scripts Pro. Other solutions include web applications which run in a web browser with no software to install. These include Scripped, ScriptBuddy, PlotBot, WriterDuet and Zhura.
There is also a plain text screenwriting syntax called Fountain, co-developed by screenwriter John August, which enables writing screenplays in any basic text environment, be it dedicated writing software, email or theoretically even any text you can run through OCR.
The first screenwriting software was a standalone script formatter, Scriptor, from Screenplay Systems. It took a text file generated by a word processor and inserted the proper page break tags.
When used in conjunction with a TSR program such as SmartKey or ProKey—keyboard utilities that assigned a sequence of commands to keystroke combinations—the "dot commands" that Scriptor required could be inserted semi-automatically.
Additionally, keyboard macros could be programmed to properly indent and enter abbreviations—allowing a user to customize the working of the word processor.
SmartKey was popular with screen writers from 1982–1987, after which word processing programs had their own macro features.
An update to Scriptor understood the style sheets used in Microsoft Word for DOS. And so the need for key macro programs was lessened.
Scriptor's limitation was that once formatted it was difficult to re-import the resulting text back into a word processor for further editing.
The next generation of screenplay software hooked into Microsoft Word. Warren Script Application was initially released as a set of style sheets for Word for DOS. It was updated for Word for Windows circa 1988.
gScript, a shareware script formatter/template, was released via CompuServe in 1989. It was included on the disk accompanying the book Take Word for Windows to the Edge, published by Ziff-Davis in 1993. It has since been updated and released commercially as ScriptWright.
This third generation of screenplay software consists of the standalone script writing programs such as Movie Magic Screenwriter, Final Draft, and Cinovation's Scriptware.
The latest generation adds online storage and collaboration. New partnerships, such as that recently announced between Movie Magic Screenwriter and Scripped, may lead to online and offline synchronization.
- Chmielewski, Dan. "Scripped and The Write Brothers Announce Joint Marketing and Technology Partnership to Benefit Screenwriters". BusinessWire. Retrieved 2008-07-28.