Announcing "Ruff Draught"

My writing setup -- I use Final Draft for a number of reasons. One of my favorite things is how much information about a script I can have at my fingertips.

A while back I committed myself to learning Java. I figured that, apart from being very helpful for my day job, knowing a programming language is every bit as important in the 21st Century as knowing a human language. I've been poking around it for a while, writing small programs for work, but you learn the most by doing and the best projects are those where you scratch your own itch. So I wanted to build something for myself.

I work heavily with Final Draft's index cards feature and I like the way it's implemented -- split-screening index cards with a view of the script is helpful. I tend to lean on index cards in the outlining phase of my work, so by the time I'm ready to get down to business I've already got a 25-50 cards written up. I give them pretty heavy descriptions and I like to read them all together. In fact, what I like to do is take all of that index card text and transform it into the rough draft of my treatment. The problem I had is that FD doesn't really provide a way to do this except to copy the text out of each card and paste it into another document. Over and over again.

Yes, this is a First World problem. Medieval monks who copied the Bible must think so little of me. But I repeat this process several times, often generating new treatments as I work on a new draft of the screenplay. So I figured I'd be my own solution. What I came up with is a little utility that I call "RUFF DRAUGHT."

 Ruff Draught Icon -- by  -- used free of charge for non-commercial purposes.

Ruff Draught Icon -- by -- used free of charge for non-commercial purposes.

At this point, all this does is takes the index card text out of an FDX file and write it into a TXT file. This is version 0.1 -- what you might call a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). It does exactly what I needed it to do but in the most minimal way possible. It's a learning experience for me in programming, but it's also very useful to my screenwriting. From here I definitely have improvements in mind and I'm going to be releasing iterative versions while I can.

Right now, Ruff Draught is free; and it will probably stay that way for a while. If I ever get it to a state that it feels like a product, I may sell it for a nominal fee -- a fraction of what I would have paid when the need first arose. One thing is certain, though, I will continue to develop it as an open source project. The source code is already available on Github if anyone cares -- just please don't judge me by my code.

The Windows version of Ruff Draught is available here.

The Mac version is now available here.