Screenwriting Markdown at work

September 8th, 2011 | by | screenwriting


Fade In Professional Screenwriting Software and Fade In Mobile both now have preliminary support for the previously discussed Screenplay Markdown format, or SPMD.

The mobile app allows using basic SPMD formatting, making it much easier to write/edit/work on a mobile device. (Import of .spmd files might come at some point, but it seems a little redundant since the biggest potential benefit of SPMD at the moment is being able to work in plain text on a mobile device where there’s no better option available — except that Fade In Mobile already runs on iPhone, iPad and Android.)

The latest update to the desktop application has preliminary support for SPMD import from .spmd (or .txt) files. It’s preliminary because it’s not entirely complete: while most of the SPMD spec is implemented, some things aren’t (yet), and the way some SPMD formatting is handled may change.

1.  Styles, text formatting, notes, and scene synopses are for the most part handled exactly as expected.

2.  Title page information is currently imported as-is without processing. This part of the spec is, syntax-wise, a little looser than the rest and therefore trickier to parse properly. (Although I guess it’s conceivable that someone might want to enter all their based-on, agent contact, and WGA registration info in SPMD in a text editor, it’s arguably not the most pressing thing to implement.)

3.  Dual dialogue is imported as regular dialogue with no additional indication.

4.  Outlining is interpreted as a standalone paragraph for each outline level indicated, with both the paragraph text and scene synopsis set to the outline description.

5.  Since SPMD doesn’t have a Shot style like Fade In and other screenwriting applications do, some paragraphs that would normally be styled as shots are mistranslated as Scene Heading. Some manual cleanup will be in order for those (as can be seen when, for instance, importing the SPMD excerpt from The Hurt Locker).

6.  With testing and some additional work, most or all of these can be improved/fixed/removed from the list.

Other than that, the application seems to do a pretty decent job — although if you run into any problems or take umbrage with any of the interpretation of SPMD formatting, be sure to let know.

Update 13-Sep-11:
  The latest version of the desktop software now features SPMD export, as well.

Update 19-Sep-11:  And import/export of SPMD-formatted dual dialogue.

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