WordPress 2.5 released

Just a few short hours after I posted my WordPress review, version 2.5 was released. Of course this is a very major update, and of course my review is for version 2.3 (the prior version — there is no 2.4).

The new release offers, among other improvements: simpler plugin updating, easier gallery creation, a much better Dashboard (admin panel), enhanced security features, full-screen writing capability, a better WYSIWYG editor, and better searching capability (that now indexes static pages in addition to posts). Check out the full list of improvements here.

I just completed the upgrade. It installed flawlessly. The changes to the admin panel are indeed very substantial. It’ll take some time to get used to. The automatic plugin updating is quite nice, I have to say. Also, the Dashboard ‘start’ page is much more useful than the previous version.

The only minor problem I’ve noticed so far is that the WP Archive widget named has changed from ‘Archives‘ to ‘Archive.’ This is significant if you use image replacement for the widget title — you’ll have to update your CSS to reflect the new name.

I also noticed that the new wp-config.php is different from previous versions, so be sure to use this updated file (this file hasn’t changed in a long while, so I’m guessing that many people are in the habit of keeping their existing config file during upgrades).

The easiest way to do this is to copy over your old MySQL settings (user name, password, database name) into the new file (which is called ‘wp-config-sample.php’), delete the old config file, then delete the word ‘sample’ from the wp-config-sample.php file.

The difference in this file is the addition of a secure key field. Enter a long, complicated key in this field as indicated (no need to remember it). This is part of a new secure cookie encryption protocol.

I’ll add my thoughts on this new version when I post the RapidWeaver Vs. WordPress final wrap-up.

RapidWeaver Vs. WordPress III: WordPress review

This is the third in a four part series comparing WordPress with RapidWeaver (and speaking of RapidWeaver, don’t miss the comment from a lead RW developer on that review).

WordPress, a blog publishing system for Mac, PC, or Linux. I’m assuming that most people who read this probably have heard of WordPress and have perhaps noted that many blogs use it. In terms of blogging platforms, WP ranks second in use only to Google’s Blogger. That equates to millions of users. What accounts for this popularity? In short, it works. And it’s free. Not only can you get a blog up and running quickly with WordPress, you can manage your blog with one of the best browser-based administration panels out there.

If you’re considering WordPress, you need to understand the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com.

WordPress.com

 

The .com option is the WordPress answer to Blogger. It’s a commercial web hosting venture which employs a version of WP that allows for multiple blogs within one installation. Once you sign up, you get hosting space, automatic installation, and a fixed number of themes, plugins, and widgets to customize your site. In general, you won’t be able to modify much and you can’t put ads on it. However, you will be able to modify more than you would with Blogger. You’ll be able to choose from a palette of widgets, move them around on your sidebar, choose a header photo (this option is only available with some themes), and activate some plugins, but you won’t be able to style your page or modify the theme layout/design with the free package. Nor will you be able to choose from the wider universe of WP plugins and widgets available around the web.

The basic package is free, but there are paid upgrades if you want to customize the styles of your chosen theme, get more storage space, or change your domain name to something other than your_blog.wordpress.com. Most users choose the WP.com option because it’s easier to use, it’s just as free as the .org version, it offers better technical support, and it includes site hosting.

Last point: since you will be using tried and tested themes, plugins and widgets with this option, you will be ensured of a standards-compliant site.

WordPress.org

 

The .org option offers an open source package of core files to run a WP blog. It is free to use and abuse however you’d like within the terms of the General Public License. If you choose this option, you will get a download of the files needed to make WordPress run, but you won’t get a place to host it, you’ll have to install it yourself and you won’t get dedicated support. You will, however, have access to a veritable sea of plugins, widgets, and themes — and you’ll be able to fully customize and tweak your site. In other words, you have a level of freedom unmatched by what you’d get from a WP.com hosted blog. If you want the full features of the .org version, but don’t want to deal with the hassle of setting it up, there are many hosts that offer automatic installation (or you can get a WP expert to install your blog for free if your web host meets the requirements).

Last point: you may also choose the multi-user version of WP if you want the ability to have limitless blogs with unlimited authors with only one installation. It’s freely available as well (and, in case you are wondering, it’s the same platform used by WP.com).

This rest of this review will focus on the WordPress.org package because the flexibility inherent in this version most closely approximates the full capabilities of RapidWeaver.

Who is it for

 

While RapidWeaver is a website creation tool that also supports blogging, WordPress is first and foremost a tool for the weblog. Sure, you can add static pages to a WP site, but it is primarily designed to handle dynamic content. And it’s designed to support things that bloggers need most (moderating comments, managing posts, adding categories and tags etc.) right out of the box. While you can add photo pages, videos, and a variety of other content to your WordPress blog (either in posts or on stand-alone pages), it is generally not as easy of a task as it would be on RapidWeaver. And that’s the main difference. If you don’t want to pay any money up front, flexibility and customization options are important to you, and you have some (or great) knowledge of CSS and HTML, it’s a superb choice. It doesn’t hurt to know a bit about PHP and MySQL, too. If you don’t know anything about this stuff, you will still get a lot out of it because the basic administration tools are quite simple and robust. You just won’t be able to customize your site design/layout as much as you might like without a bit of research and studying.

About Themes, Plugins, and Widgets

 

Just like RapidWeaver, WordPress is based on the template (WP calls them themes). As I’ve noted before, templates are great because they are generally designed by people who know something about, well, design. Most of the hard work is done for you. However, if you roam far and wide for WP themes, you may find that some of them are not standards-compliant. Most are, though. However, they may no longer be compliant once you’re done modifying them. Fortunately, your can test this out compliments of the free W3C validation tools.

In addition to themes, WP offers plug-and-play extendability with plugins and widgets. Plugins are bits of code created by clever individuals that extend your site’s functionality. There are a ton of them out there and they are generally extremely easy to deploy. Some of the most popular are Askimet (a very effective spam filtering plugin), the ‘All in One SEO pack‘ (to easily optimize your site for search engines), Google Analytics (to get some site stats), WordPress.com stats (more stats — you need to sign up for WP.com to use them on your site but that doesn’t mean you need a WP.com-hosted site), and Lightbox (responsible for the screenshot behavior of this site). But that’s just the very tip of a large iceberg. The WordPress plugin page is a good place to start your search.

Widgets are a special type of plugin. They are basically chunks of code that you can mix and match with ease to customize you sidebar content. WordPress comes with a bunch of widgets out of the box (search tool, calendar, recent posts, etc.), but that’s just the start. In addition to the standard WP widgets, for instance, this site uses an enhanced blogroll widget (which rotates links every time the page is loaded), an enhanced recent comments widget (to display chunks of the most recent comments) and a Feedburner widget (to optimize this site’s RSS feed).

Adding plugins, themes, and extra widgets to your site is easy. I’ll touch on this in the next section.

The basics of how it works

Now let’s take a step back and take a deeper look at how WordPress is setup and how you manage it. I’m not going to go into great detail here, but it’s important to have a basic understanding of how it’s put together. Once you install WP at the desired location on your web host, the first thing you notice is that there are a heck of a lot of files and folders. Fortunately, pretty much everything you need to access is located in one folder labeled wp-content.

 

Inside there, you’ll find a plugins folder, an uploads folder, and a themes folder. My assumption here is that you have some sort of FTP client with which to install and view these files. If you don’t, you’ll need one. I use Panic’s Transmit.

Installing new themes and plugins couldn’t be easier (remember: extra widgets are also installed as plugins): you drop your new theme files in the themes folder; and (you guessed it) you place plugins in the plugins folder. The uploads folder is a good place to store images and other files that you want to place on pages or in posts. This organization scheme permits you to change themes on the fly while ensuring that your plugins and extra files remain properly in place. In other words, all of the images, files, and plugins are separate from your theme. That way, you can change your theme and your site maintains the same functionality and content, just with a new look.

All of your posts, comments, tags, etc. are also separate from your theme files — they are stored in a MySQL database. WordPress works its magic with PHP, an open source language that dynamically calls up and displays data and content from your database. It’s a bit complicated if you’ve never worked with it, but WordPress offers extensive documentation to help you understand how a site is managed. In a nutshell, the theme files control the layout/design and styles of your site (and you can manually add static content in here, too). The theme also contains all the PHP functionality that makes your blog dynamic. If this all sounds complicated, it is. It takes some getting used to. Once you get it down, though, you’ll find that WP is perhaps more robust and flexible than RapidWeaver, mainly because all of WP is accessible for modification and the pool of people who make plugins and themes for the WP platform is huge.

The hardest part to get used to with WP is how the PHP pages are split up into sections (into separate header, footer, index, etc). When you load up a WP blog page, all these disparate parts are called into play via the PHP code and then reassembled on the fly to spit out a dynamically-generated HTML page in your browser. When I first started to understand how all of these PHP files work together (and I confess I don’t understand all of it) it struck me as quite ingenious. It reminds me of an analog watch: looked at from the front, it’s a stylish, simple interface that tells the time. But open up the back, and you reveal a blur of cogs and springs and little gears somehow working together to create the time. Anyhow, to really get it, be prepared to spend some time with it. My suggestion? Try installing two copies of WP on your web host (one to use for your blog, one to hide and play with) or install MAMP on your Mac and install a copy of WP there. MAMP, by the way, is a great tool to set up a personal webserver.

While RapidWeaver content and user options are manipulated on a page-by-page basis and via inspector panes, WordPress is managed from a browser via a web-based Admin panel. The obvious benefit of this approach is that you are not tied to your desktop to manage your site. The Admin panel is the heart and soul of WP. It’s designed to give you the tools you need to effectively manage a site, even if you’ve never done anything like this before. For the most part, it succeeds. There are many aspects of the admin panel that I really appreciate. For instance, it’s very easy to activate and deactivate plugins. It’s as simple as turning them off and on. The discussion (comment) moderation is also excellent. You can choose to moderate every comment, just moderate comments from new users, or choose many options in between to get your settings just right. The built in commenting options blow RapidWeaver’s external Haloscan.com comment solution out of the water. In fact, many say it’s the best of any platform.

In fact, the level of fidelity with which you can control almost every aspect of your blog is superior. Given this tool is specialized for blogging, perhaps that’s not too surprising. You will also appreciate how easy it is to delete or edit a comment, monitor registered users, and move Widgets around (which is a pleasant drag-and-drop experience). You can also email posts in remotely with a few simple set-up steps. Like RapidWeaver, though, some of the admin windows are so chock full of options that it can be confusing to grasp.

For me, the weak link in the Admin panel is the tab for writing a new post. WP allows you to enter your post via a WYSIWYG or code-based window, but I find it to be clunky and limiting. At times, I’ve made changes to my posts via this panel only to find that other parts of my code changed in unexpected ways. I shudder at the thought of typing up a lengthy post (like this one) through the Admin panel. Likewise, I don’t care for uploading images or files for my posts via the Admin panel. I think it’s tedious; and it’s awkward to go back and move or change file names using the panel. My preference for editing and modifying posts? More on that in the next section.

To summarize the basics: you add themes and plugins by dropping them into folders on your web host using an FTP client; you manage all of your content, presentation options and plugins via the Admin panel; you change the design of your site by modifying the PHP and CSS files of your theme. Easy right? It’s actually not as complicated as it may sound, and it’s much easier if you use some good third party Mac apps.

Using Third Party Apps

 

Much more so than RapidWeaver, WordPress benefits greatly from the addition of third-party editing tools. For instance, I previously noted that I find writing posts on the web-based Admin panel a little annoying. It’s not that the WP Admin panel is bad. It’s actually quite good, especially compared to other CMS admin panels I’ve used. Still, once I tried MarsEdit I discovered how much better the experience could be. If there is one companion tool that is a must-have for writing, editing, tagging, and categorizing posts, this is it. Some people choose to set up MarsEdit to accurately preview what the post will look like. As I’ve mentioned, I post to a local server on my Mac on a mirror copy of this website using MarsEdit. I polish it locally, then publish it once I’m done. I find this to be an ideal set up.

Another third party tool you will need is a good FTP client. This will be useful when you need to update WP to a newer version (make sure you back it up first!), add new plugins or upload images.

If you are inclined to create/modify your theme, you will also benefit from an external editor such as TextMate or BBEdit/TextWrangler and a CSS editor like CSSEdit. I don’t want to go to deeply into this topic, but I want to point out that WP really rocks when you get a good workflow going with some extra tools. Of course, this comes at a cost. If I add together all of the third party tools I use to manage the site, WP actually cost me about as much as RapidWeaver! I have to ask myself how much of the pleasure of working with WordPress is due to these additional Mac apps. Tools like CSSEdit, TextMate, MarsEdit, and Transmit truly make it a pleasant workflow. In fact, one of the main reasons I stuck with WP for this site is because I really like to use these tools. Sounds kind of silly, perhaps, but I’ll stick by it.

Here’s one final tip: you can set up your WordPress admin panel to appear as a desktop application (and put it in your Dock) using a little app called Fluid. It’s still in Beta, but I’ve found it works great. With Fluid, in fact, you can set up any web-based app to function as a stand-alone application. Very handy.

Conclusion

 

So here’s the thing about WordPress: it’s a question of how far you want to take it. Pretty much anything you want to do is possible, but the need to understand a bit of what’s going on with the code behind the scenes increases exponentially the more you deviate from the standard WP model. In this sense, WordPress is an excellent training tool to learn about PHP, MySQL, CSS, and XHMTL. As I’ve said, I strongly recommend installing a version locally on your Mac using MAMP just for this purpose. Over time, you’ll start to gain the ability to bend your site to your will with greater skill. Until that time, however, you’ll be surprised how far you can get with existing themes, plugins and widgets.

While it’s certainly harder to set up (if you do it yourself!) and has a steeper learning curve than RapidWeaver, where you can take your blog with this version of WP is limited only to your ability, imagination and experience level.

What do I love about WordPress?

º It’s free
º It’s easy to set up and maintain
º Templates, plugins, and widgets abound
º The admin panel is full-featured and about as intuitive as any that I’ve seen
º It integrates exceptionally well with other editing tools, particularly MarsEdit

What’s not to love?

º Compared to RapidWeaver, editing your site styles is more difficult
º Editing your theme is even harder for beginners
º The built-in WP theme editor is not easy to use
º Updating a WP installation takes some patience and knowledge of FTP; it’s also a bit scary
º Compared to RW, support for adding slick graphics, javascript, video, etc. is certainly not as simple (but there are many plugins to help you along)
º Since you can do whatever you want with this WP installation, it’s easier to break web standards

If you are looking for a free and flexible tool to fire up your own blog, WP is a solid choice. It’s not only free and flexible, but there are just tons of user-created add-ons that you can quickly drop right in to your site. If you get stuck, you’re in luck: the web is rife with tips and tutorials and fixes for WordPress. I haven’t come across a problem yet for which I couldn’t find a ready-made answer online within a few minutes of searching. The user forums are great and instructions are comprehensive. The last thing I’ll note is that WordPress could do a better job at explaining the various options available for new users (.org, .com, multi-user, etc.). It took me a while to sort it out. I hope this review helps some readers make an informed choice.

That wraps it up. Next, I’ll conclude this series with a final summary comparison of RapidWeaver and WordPress.

Adobe launches free online image editor

learned that Adobe launched a public beta of Express yesterday. It’s an online photo editing application with a couple of free Gigabytes of storage. It was first demonstrated last September.

It’s pretty slick. It’ll be interesting to see how Picnik, Splashup, Snipshot, Phixr, Preloadr, and Pixenate (among other competitors in this crowded field) fare in light of this gorilla-sized competition.

I think Apple should enter the fray. I would think it would be a short leap from iPhoto and .Mac to a great web-based editing and storage solution from Cupertino. I’m guessing they wouldn’t want to make it Flash-based, though.

Two apps to check out: Iguania, Flux

Here are two apps that recently caught my interest:

1. Iguania:

I heard about Iguania while listening to Adam Christianson’s MacCast, which is incidentally one of the best general-interest Mac podcasts out there. Iguania is a novel application to edit your photos without all of those popup boxes and sliders. Instead, you use the keyboard to select the function you want, then adjust that value with your mouse. I’ve tried it out and love it. I found it to be quite intuitive. I couldn’t help but think of how this idea could be applied to the iPhone/iPod Touch 3-axis accelerometer and the new Apple multi-touch trackpad. Some real innovation happening here. It’s still in Beta, so give it a try and send some feedback to the developer.

2. Flux:

I came across Flux the other day while perusing my RSS feeds. It’s a new website design tool just out of Beta (…and yet already at 1.1.1). I downloaded it, then went to the developer’s site to read more. I have to admit it was a bit disconcerting to see the developer blog hosted on a Blogger site. Then I clicked on ‘About’ and landed on apple.com. Hmm. Still, I pressed on. Thirty minutes later, I concluded that the app has potential but still needs work. It just didn’t feel complete to me. I pondered if I should post this or not, but decided I would. I think there are some interesting ideas here — the CSS view alone is worth a look.

An Automator workflow for bibliophiles

A few posts back I described my experience trying to create a workflow to automate the process of exporting my Delicious Library (DL) catalog toLibraryThing (LT).

Here is the Automator workflow I created: open up Delicious Library, export the book catalog (an XML file) to my desktop, copy the location path of this newly created document to the clipboard, open my browser (Firefox) to the LibraryThing import page, tab to the appropriate form field (I used tabs so it was not relative to browser window location), paste the path from the clipboard into the ‘Upload File’ field on the LT import page, then use tabs and returns to activate the form and upload the file. Finally, move the exported DeliciousLibrary file to the Trash. Once that’s all complete, I threw in a Growl notification to let me know it was done.

And here is the Mac 101 tutorial for starters. Here are a few sources for more automator workflow actions, tips and tutorials:

1. Automator.us: This site has some good tutorials and a great variety of downloadable actions
2. AutomatorWorld.com: Look for more advanced Automator stuff here
3. Apple.com Automator Actions downloads: check out the most popular downloads

Why aren’t more apps using LinkBack?

I just read about LinkBack, an open source framework sponsored by Nisus Software that’s been around since 2005. I guess I’m a little late to the game, but I thought I’d share it in case you’ve never heard of it. Right now, 22 applications support it.

LinkBack is best described with an example: Suppose you create a vector graphic in Lineform. Then, you drag and drop your creation into a VoodooPad document. Later, you realize you need to update the graphic. Since both apps support LinkBack, you double-click the graphic from within VoodooPad, edit it in Lineform (which opens automatically), then save it. Now your embedded VoodooPad graphic is updated.

That’s handy.

I’ve been thinking about what applications I use that support a similar sort of inter-application linking. Let’s see. I can open up and edit my iPhoto images in PhotoShop. I can use CSSEdit or TextMate to directly edit documents on the server with Transmit. And Adobe CS3 handles cross-application editing of files fairly well (within the Adobe apps, of course). That’s all I can think of.

I found two posts relating to the launch of LinkBack from March 2005. One is from TidBITS, the venerable weekly Mac newsletter that’s been around since 1990. The other is from O’Reilly’s macdevcenter.com. LinkBack launched with relative optimism. Yet I could not readily find any recent posts, reviews or otherwise about it. So why haven’t more developers integrated it into their products? Why only 22 apps after three years? Anybody?

By the way, in the post from macdevcenter.com, the author (Giles Turnbull) pointed out that one can hit ⌘-J while typing a post in MarsEdit to open up an external text editor. I did not know that. Now that I do, I’ll probably be writing all my posts in TextMate — the TextMate HTML bundle and text abilities are far more robust than MarsEdit. Of course, I could add my own Markup to MarsEdit, but I think it will just be easier (more efficient) to open it up in TextMate. I thought it was pretty cool that I learned a new tip from a three year old post.

Evernote: an organizer app to watch

Surf-Bit’s Mac ReviewCast episode, host Tim Verpoorten interviewed Evernote CEO Phil Libin. Evernote is a multi-platform application in Beta (invitation only) that “allows individuals to capture and find anything from their real and digital lives using their PC, Mac, mobile phone, and the web. Regardless of where or when your notes are created, everything is synchronized, recognized, and available from anywhere.” (as described on the Developer’s site).

I should clarify this a bit. A stand-alone desktop version of Evernote is free to download by anyone (right now, there are Mac, PC, and Windows Mobile versions available). The Beta invitation is for the web application (and the seamless synching between all your devices).

The most interesting (amazing) feat that Evernote performs? The uncanny ability to read and index text from photos that you’ve taken (handwritten notes and printed text within graphics). You have to see this to believe it. Check out Evernote’s video overview. I’d like to know how it’s done.

At any rate, Libin offered up 1,000 Beta invites for MacReviewCast listeners at the end of the interview. I signed up and just received my invitation from the developer. I’ll share my impressions once I test it out. If it’s too late to get an invite from the Mac ReviewCast, you can sign up to try the Beta at Evernote.com (the developer is issuing new invites as spaces open up).

This looks like a really promising application.

Automator Frustration

Delicious Library (DL) and LibraryThing (LT) book catalogs. It’s really not ‘synching:’ LibraryThing can ‘synch’ only in the sense that it can compare a DL book catalog (desktop app) with the LT book catalog (web-based app) so that only new entries are imported. In other words, you can add new DL books to your LT account, but I’m not aware of a way to synch your new LT books back to your DL database. I should note that LibraryThing accepts more than just Delicious Library info. It can import from a wide variety of other web-based and desktop apps.

All things considered, I have to say that LibraryThing serves up a pretty good universal import tool (they call it, appropriately, the ‘Universal Import‘).

In order to save some time, I think it would be nice to automate this process. I started down this road after reader brab asked if synching between the two services was possible. I originally responded that it wasn’t possible, only to discover that LibraryThing can, in fact, import with gusto. I should have read the manual!

Then it dawned on me that this is an ideal Automator scenario: create a workflow to expedite the process of exporting Delicious Library book catalog to LibraryThing. LibraryThing accepts DL exported data, so it should be easy, right? Two hours later, and I am ready to punch the little Automator robot.

While I used Automator quite often in Tiger, this was my first use in Leopard. I don’t know if I was just tired (and I’ll try again later to see if it was me) but I did not have a pleasant experience. Automator was very quirky: the steps I created in the process worked great, at first. Then, when I saved my workflow as an application, it suddenly did not work at all.

So, I opened up the automator process as a workflow again to troubleshoot, only to discover that my workflow no longer worked. My main problem: I exported a .txt file from Delicious Library to the desktop. Then I moved that file to my /Documents folder. Then I copied that path. Then I opened up the browser to the LibraryThings import page to paste that copied path. The problem is that Automator insisted that there was an error with copying my file from the desktop to the new location. And Automator had issues with deleting the file from the /Documents folder once I was done with it. I encountered these errors even though the process worked just fine an hour earlier, and despite the fact that I had changed nothing. I was (and am) pulling my hair out. I checked the permissions of this folder, and they are correct.

I then re-created the entire workflow from scratch; still, I could not get it to work again. Sigh. This is just a simple script to export an text file from DL, copy the file name, and paste the file path into the LT web form for import. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.

To recap, here is the workflow in a nutshell: open DL, export the book catalog to a desired location (my desktop), move that file to new location (my /Documents folder), copy the new location path to the clipboard, open my browser to the LT import page, tab to the appropriate form field (I used tabs so it was not relative to browser window location), paste the path from the clipboard into the ‘Upload File’ field on the LT import page, then use tabs and returns to activate the form and upload the file. For the last step, I deleted the exported DL file from /Documents.

Pretty simple, or so I thought. But Automator does not like my workflow. I’ll have to try again when I have time…chances are that it’s human error. Still, I’m struck by the fact that I had a working automation an hour ago. Now, an hour later, the same workflow is broken. It’s very odd. My conclusion: Automator is billed as a tool to bring automation to ‘the rest of us.’ In general, I think it hits this target: it’s easy to use and powerful. Yet, I would like to see better hints when an error occurs. For my problem, all I am told is that there is an error with a step in the process. I don’t see any logging information to help me pinpoint why or where that error is occurring.

At any rate, once I get a working Automator workflow I’ll post it in case anyone would like to modify it for his/her use. If I can’t get it to work, I plan to find some Automator user forums to post my workflow. Perhaps then I’ll locate the problem.

Cultured Code Things revs to 0.9

If you haven’t tried out Cultured Code’s Things yet, now is a good time. It’s my favorite task manager, and it’s better than ever. Yesterday, version 0.9 was released. You can download the public Beta preview for free. It’s a Beta, so you are encouraged to let the developers know what you think.

The big news about this Beta release? Recurring to-dos and projects. And there’s lots of other improvements as well. If you like Things, sign up for their newsletter for a 20 percent discount once 1.0 is released this Spring (you’ll be able to pick it up for $39; regular price will be $49).

If you read my review of Things, be sure to read the comments for this post, too. One of the developers of Things addressed many of the concerns I raised in the review.

Try your hand at screenwriting

Celtx. It’s a free tool for creating a screenplay and offers robust collaboration and sharing options (and it’s for Mac, Linux, or Windows).

In addition to screenplays, it also supports AV scripts (documentaries, ads, music videos), audio plays (radio, podcasts), theatre (U.S. and International Standards, and plain old text). But if screenwriting is your game, there are many choices…

Dedicated Screenwriting Tools

Celtx (free, Beta)
Mariner Montage ($139.95)
DreamaScript ($195)
Movie Outline ($199.95)
Final Draft ($229)
Movie Magic Screenwriter ($249.95)

Tools that can handle Screenwriting (to some degree)

Latte and Literature’s Scrivener ($39.95)
MacroMates TextMate: Try the screenwriting bundle ($63 for TextMate, free Bundle)
Apple iWorks: Try the Screenplay template for Pages ($79 for iWorks, free template)
NovaMind Platinum ($249)

I’m not a screenwriter, but I’ve dabbled in it. For this, I use Celtx. For my other varied textual needs, I rely on TextMate, Scrivener, iWorks(Pages), and Redlex Mellel. This is off-topic, but I just have to note that I especially love Mellel. But it’s not for screenwriting. It’s a versatile word processor. Why I love it and how I use it is a topic for another post, another day…