My screenwriting partner and I can’t always be in the same room at the same time… so we’ve been searching for the best collaborative screenwriting software solution since 2009.
In a perfect world, collaboration would be real-time, it’d work on a Mac or a PC, and it would be compatible with Final Draft, Movie Magic, or any other screenwriting software.
Asking too much?
We’ve looked at downloadable, local options like CELTX, web-based services like ScriptBuddy, Zhura and Scripped, and even screenplay templates in Google Docs. Google docs is cool, cuz it’s real-time collaborative. But the templates are clunky.
Now, we’ve found the best collaborative screenplay software ever.
Join.me is a screenshare software designed for online meetings and conference calls. It’s like GoToWebinar and GoToMeeting, but it’s better.
It’s utterly simple, intuitive, instant, platform independent, and completely free.
You can use it on a Mac or a PC, and it’s compatible with every screenwriting software on the market.
Yes, every one.
How’s it work?
Go to Join.Me and download the tiny application. It’ll install on your computer, and drop a shortcut on your desktop or toolbar.
When you and your writing partner are ready for your collaborative screenwriting session, one of you (whoever has the screenwriting software — let’s say Final Draft — and the file you’re working on) will launch their Join.Me app. You’ll get a small dialogue on your screen, with two choices – share your screen, or view someone else’s screen.
Your toolbar will appear (see below). It’ll generate a random numerical code in a shortlink. This number is unique every time you launch the tool.
That’s it. You’re ready to share.
In fact, your partner doesn’t even need to have Join.Me installed on her computer. Send her the whole shortlink, or just the numeric code. She can click the link, and she’ll be dropped right into your screenshare, and see everything on your screen. Launch Final Draft, open your project, and start collaborating.
Or she can visit the Join.Me site, where the ridiculously simple homepage will offer two choices: Share, or View Someone’s Screen.
All she has to do is put the numerical code into the “join” field, and press the arrow. She’ll instantly be viewing your screen, and see whatever it is you see.
Now the two of you can work together.
Audio: Of course, you can both be on your own phones to hear each other. But if you’ve got multiple participants in multiple locations (say, a consultant or producer joins the fray) Join.Me also provides you a free unique conference line for your session… just click the phone icon. Of course, your own charges will apply.
Update: There’s a VOIP feature in development, and you can try it out on the beta site. This’ll save those phone costs, and makes this service even more amazing.
Chat: Yes, if that weren’t enough, you even get a free chat interface if you’d rather jot notes back and forth.
Swap Control: And best of all, you can hand off control of your computer to your partner, and let her do the writing for a while. She’ll be driving your computer, and your Final Draft file will still be on your drive.
Mobile Compatibility: While he who shares must do so from his computer, she who is viewing can do so on an iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, or Android device.
Software Compatibility: To be clear, Join.Me isn’t specifically a collaborative screenwriting software. It’s a screenshare app for presentations, online meetings, etc. But what that means is that you’re sharing whatever application you like: Final Draft, Movie Magic, Celtx, browser based tools like Scripped or Google Docs, whatever. This makes any screenwriting software instantly collaborative.
I can’t overstate how excited I am by Join.Me. No, I’m not getting paid for this endorsement… this is just me gushing. It’s so easy to use, there’s no registration required, it’s exactly what the web ought to be. There are extra features you can access with a paid pro version, but you won’t need them to collaborate with your writing partner.
However, you might want them if you start finding excuses for all kinds of bigger, badder online meetups and whatnot. I know I’m already looking for reasons to use it.
Check it out. Start collaborating. And if anyone asks, tell ‘em I sent you.
Who knows… maybe that endorsement contract will eventually follow.