Possibly the best collaborative screenwriting software tool ever

collaborative screenwriting softwareMy 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.

Zhura and Scripped eventually merged, and all the features were rolled into one online service under the Scripped banner. It’s buggy, but it’s the one we chose. We still use it… until now.

Now, we’ve found the best collaborative screenplay software ever.

join me join.meJoin.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?

Easy Peasy.

ONE:

Go to Join.Me and download the tiny application. It’ll install on your computer, and drop a shortcut on your desktop or toolbar.

join me join.me screensharing softwareTWO:

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.

Click “share”.

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.

join me join.me screenshare app

That’s it. You’re ready to share.

THREE:

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.

join me join.me

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. :D

Good writing.

6 thoughts on “Possibly the best collaborative screenwriting software tool ever

  1. I’ve been using remote access tools since Timbuk2 and pcAnywhere. The core challenge with this model is that the “server” computer needs to be connected and powered on in order to host the screenplay collaboration. Considering that I write most on a laptop (that I carry around), and that I work with collaborators who contribute whenever they have time (totally random), I don’t think this model would work well for my projects, although it would work great for demos and walkthroughs. I’d have to dedicate a “server” to host the screenplay 24/7 in order to have it host the collaboration.
    Along the lines of this model, what might actually work well is a hosted Linux environment with screen and Emacs in screenplay major mode. Hosted Linux is cheap enough that you could have the server on 24/7 for a few dollars a month. Emacs major mode screenplay mod has been out for a long time – I remember working with it in 1991.
    Okay, okay kind of a geeky solution, but it would work better for my needs.

    • Chip Street says:

      You and your geeky replies! :D

      Like I said in the opening of the article, “My screenwriting partner and I can’t always be in the same room at the same time… In a perfect world, collaboration would be real-time.”

      I am operating on the assumption that one wants a real-time, simultaneous collaboration meetup. If you just want to have a doc that lives somewhere on a server 24×7, that two or more participants can access and edit whenever they like independently, then yes, you’re right, this isn’t the solution. Google Docs would be the solution for that. Free, simple to use, no special software. The screenwriting templates are clunky, but the important thing is getting the collaboration and writing done, then dump it into Final Draft for final polish and formatting.

      Seems to me that any solution that lets two remote users access the same doc requires both users to be connected when they want to write, no? One to serve the file, one to access it. If not online, then on an always-on private or virtual network, which I guess is what you’re recommending (not enough of a geek to grok your recommendation entirely). You’re a tech guy with expertise that I’m willing to bet most screenwriters simply don’t have. I wish I did, but I don’t.

      For me the point is simplicity and ease of use. I don’t want to have to be a network administrator to write a friggin screenplay. And I can be online virtually anywhere anymore. Free WiFi is everywhere, and that’s something most screenwriters know how to use (insofar as Starbucks is where most screenwriters work…). I just want to get online, click a button and collaborate with my partner in a virtual writer’s room.

      And for that, Join.Me is the best collaborative screenwriting software solution I’ve found.

  2. Chip Street says:

    I am familiar with PlotBot (http://plotbot.com), but I haven’t used it much yet. It does allow collab, but I’m unclear if simultaneous login is a feature.

    It doesn’t have the conference call ability, and requires you to download your script and stuff it into Final Draft or similar locally for final edits, but then so does Google Docs.

    And unsure if it’s mobile friendly at all.

    Worth looking at though.

    • Skg says:

      Jason:Fascinating site. My son and I wrote a screenplay, and now I’m not rlealy sure what to do with it. He was in high school and was interested in film and entertainment. I feared he was more spectator than participant, so I bought Syd Fields Screenwriting Workshop and over the next two years, on and off, we wrote a screenplay. The process was a real father/son adventure with many writing weekends at our lake camp. It worked well for him, he’s a sophomore at SUNY Purchase in the Cinema Studies program. Back home, I have this screenplay we completed as an exercise but wonder if it has merit and I’m not rlealy sure where to go with it. I’m hoping to pick up some tips on your site.John Bernhardt

  3. Eugene says:

    Not sure join.me is the best option for screen sharing as it seems not to work fast enought for holding smooth on-line presentation especially if a few dozen of people are joined.

    I would also recommend to try free Ammyy Admin http://www.ammyy.com

    which is a way faster and doesn’t require registration or installation and by the way provide more security than join.me

    Hope this will help.

    • Chip Street says:

      I’ll check out ammyy. But I’m a little confused. You say (as does their site) that it requires “no installation” but to use it I’ve got to download an .exe.

      I imagine the lion’s share of the computing is on their servers (I’m not hosting the software) but I still need to install the exe to let the site access my computer.

      Same as Join.Me.

      And similarly, as I said, Join.Me doesn’t require registration either.

      Haven’t tried Join.Me with a few dozen people, but then I don’t have dozens of collaborators on my screenplays. Usually just me, my writing partner, and maybe a third pair of eyes. So far, so smooth.

      What are your security concerns with Join.Me?

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