Trelby, the Best Final Draft Alternative


Recently I was talking with someone about Final Draft, the ubiquitous program used by countless screenwriters everywhere.  This person did not really have any complaints with how Final Draft worked just that the $250 per licensee  cost was high especially for a poor and struggling screenwriter.  (That's 95% of screenwriters but everyone still buys the software.)  They were curios if I knew of a good Final Draft alternative.  Unfortunately I didn't but after doing a bit of Googling I found Trelby, a great free and open source screenwriting program and what seems to be the best Final Draft alternative I've seen out there.

Trelby has some great features such as;

  • Import from other script program formats like Final Draft, Celtx, Adobe Story, Fade In Pro, and Fountain.
  • Export from to PDF, formatted text, HTML, RTF, Final Draft XML, and Fountain.
  • PDF: There is a highly configurable PDF generator which supports embedding font that you want. You can also generate PDFs with custom watermarks which allows tracking number of file shares.
  • Name Database that contains over 200,000 names in multiple languages for coming up with character names.
  • Screenplay editor: Enforces correct script format and pagination, auto-completion, and spell checking.
  • View: Multiple views, including draft view, What You See is What You Get (WYSIWYG) mode, and a fullscreen so you don't need to worry about distractions while writing your script.
  • Reporting: Scene, location, character, dialogue reports.
  • Script Revisions: You have the ability to compare scripts revisions so you know what has changed.
  • It's Free: Licensed under the GPL, Trelby welcomes developers and screenwriters to contribute in making it more useful.

The issue I've heard with Final Draft is that sometimes it crashes and is bit complex to use.  (At least from what I've heard as I don't own it.)  Trelby is pretty easy to use and I have not issues using it.  Trelby works fine on Windows 7, downloads flawlessly, installs easily, and is quite stable software.  In addition Trelby works nicely on Linux Mint which is a plus but I'm not sure how many screenwriters are interested in writing scripts on Linux.

Is there a version for Macs?  Unfortunately if you look on the Download page there is a Mac download image but it says “Needs work” and it seems they need someone to help out with porting a version to Mac OS X.  Neither of the developer use a Mac according to the FAQ page.  So for those that love Apple, which most screenwriters do, you are out of luck.  If you have coding skills you are welcome to help port the Trelby Mac version though.

trelby download


What's interesting about Trelby is the development history of the program.

Trelby was originally known as Blyte, and was written by Osku in 2003-2006 and sold as a commercial program by a company he founded. However, the sales of the program were not enough to justify spending most of his free time working on it, so in 2006 he open sourced it.

The program faded into complete obscurity for five years, until in late 2011, Anil Gulecha found it and started contributing improvements. This resurrected Osku’s interest in the program, and he started working on it again as well.

They decided to change the name of the program to Trelby, create a brand new website for it (the one you’re on now), bring the code up to date which it needed after five years of neglect, and try to create a development community around it.

The intersection of software developers and screenwriters is tiny, and is probably the reason for the lack of quality open source screenwriters. If you’re a part of that tiny group, why not join in?

While the development history of Trelby is interesting I am not exactly sure how Anil Gulecha and Osku Salerma funds it's development and pay for web hosting as there is no donation button on the website.  There definitely should be though.

There are other Final Draft alternatives out there but most of them you have to pay for after a free trial.  I am fine with paying for software but as I'm not seriously looking for the best Final Draft alternative among all the screenwriter program options I wasn't going to purchase software.  If you think there is a better free and open source or paid screenwriting program out there, let me know.  RawScripts seems to be a good cloud based free option but I haven't tried it.

If you want to try Trelby visit the website to download it and the Getting started page to learn how to use it.  You can visit the Google forum to ask questions about it.

If you use Trelby or got value out of this post since you were looking for a Final Draft alternative, please leave a comment below.  I'd love to know.  Do you use any other free and open source screenwriting software? Feel free to leave a suggestion and I'll try it out.

Asus Eee PC Keyboard not Working? Try This to Fix it!

asus eee pc keyboard not workingRecently I was asked to take a look at an old Asus Eee PC netbook since the owner was having issues with the keyboard “Not working.”  My first reaction to hearing that the Asus Eee PC keyboard was not working was, “Maybe you should get rid of it.”

This Asus netbook keyboard issue wasn't something I wanted to mess around with too much but I did feel like I should take a look.  They were using the Asus Eee PC as second computer once in awhile and were getting reasonable use out of it.   Even if nobody wants a netbook anymore and everyone is going for tablets nowadays it was worth a shot to try to salvage and fix this Asus Eee PC keyboard.

The complaint of the keyboard not working wasn't that the whole keyboard didn't work.  The keys were pressed for “I” “O” and “P” the Asus netbook not put those letters on the screen.  When you pressed these keys it executed the numbers above above the letters.  So “P” would give you “0” typing “O” would give you “9” and “I” would give you “8.”  At first I assumed that Num Lock or the FN key were set or something.  After playing around with the keyboard I realized that was not the case.  This is when I decided to check Google like an IT pro (well I am not quite a pro) to see if there was something simple I was missing.  I Googled these various terms;

asus eee pc keyboard

asus eee pc keyboard not working

asus eee pc keyboard troubleshooting

I tried many of the suggestions and recommendations in the tech forums I was finding with threads with similar complaints.  Apparently Asus Eee PC keyboard issues are quite common.  Some believe it is a driver and software issue while others were saying the keyboard was probably broken and needed to be replaced.

It seemed to me a software issue and I was pretty sure the netbook owner was not interested in spending money on replacing the Asus Eee PC keyboard.  I would have installed the driver for this particular Asus netbook model but I couldn't find it.  So… what was my fix to the Asus Eee PC keyboard not working?

Linux Mint!

That's right I downloaded Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon, threw it onto a USB drive, then I booted the Asus into Linux Mint.  Boom!  The keyboard issue was gone and the Asus netbook worked pretty damn well for a netbook pushing 2 years old and specs nobody would rave about (except the harddrive is 200gb.)

Essentially  my solution to the Asus Eee PC keyboard problem is switching from the questionable Windows 7 Starter to Linux Mint 13.  You could also look into another lightweight Linux distribution that would work perform well on a Asus netbook.

I know some people probably will not want to switch to a new operating system as it can be a bit daunting.  If you check there are plenty of good tutorials on Youtube on how to switch from Linux Mint/Ubuntu from Windows.  You can also elect to dual boot, which means you would keep Windows 7 starter on the netbook and create a partitioned hard drive for Linux Mint.  You could use either operating system that you want.  If you'd rather not deal with installing another operating system you can just run Linux Mint from a USB drive but performance will not be as good.  Of course I can guarantee it will be better than Windows 7 Starter.

Keep in mind this Linux Mint solution for the Asus Eee PC keyboard is free.  If you know a “tech person” that is familiar with Linux you could ask for their help.  Having only a small fraction of the keyboard not working is a real PIA and quite annoying.

I assume the netbook will only get a few more months of use considering it's age.  Still it's nice to not have to throw out this Asus Eee PC netbook and make it usable for someone for a little while longer.

If you have any questions about your Asus Eee PC keyboard not working or how about Linux Mint feel free to leave a comment below.

“Error Unknown Filesystem Grub Rescue” just run Ubuntu Boot Repair

So the other day I got Linux Mint 13 installed along with Windows 7 on my Toshiba Portege.  It was working fine… until

error: unknown filesystem grub rescue >

I got this message a few days after I installed Linux Mint 13 and started up my laptop in the morning.  My Toshiba Portege would not do anything else when I turned it on besides give me this black screen with these words.  First thing I thought,”WTF does error unknown filesystem grub rescue mean?”  I then realized something was wrong with the GRUB (GRand Unified Bootloader) which is responsible for initially loading an operating system kernel software so you can start your Linux computer.  If you GRUB is not working, you can't use your computer to do anything.  Argh!

After I stopped freaking out I thought something went wrong when I was installing Linux Mint.  I thought I would try reinstalling to see if that would fix the GRUB issue.  I live booted via a USB drive onto Linux Mint 13 and reinstalled it in the same partition I was using before… restarted my Toshiba laptop… and… “error unknown filesystem grub rescue”  Ahhhh… what!

My next step was to check the Linux Mint internet relay chat (IRC) channel to see if anyone could help me there.  A few people offered advice like I needed a Windows 7 repair disc to fix this GRUB issue.  Thanks to Toshiba for not providing an install disc by the way and since I couldn't boot into Windows 7 to make a repair disc that wasn't going to happen.

I then went Googling which lead me Linux forums and started searching around.  I tried some of the suggestions that people had recommended while I was running Linux Mint off the USB drive.  Nothing seemed to work.  I then started my own thread to see if I could solve the problem but sometimes people on Linux forums are really annoying.  If I knew how to fix it I wouldn't be other asking, you know.

Then I found this page on Ubuntu Help and Documentation and ran the code in the terminal.

error unknown filesystem grub rescue

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:yannubuntu/boot-repair && sudo apt-get update

Hit Enter, then run

sudo apt-get install -y boot-repair && (boot-repair &)

Waited for the Ubuntu Boot Repair to run, it outputted a URL, and then restarted my computer… voila!  I could boot into Linux Mint or Windows 7 and my GRUB boot repair problem was solved.

Sometimes Linux is a bit annoying but once you figure it out you feel great.  Just thought I would post this in case anyone runs gets the same “error unknown filesystem grub rescue” message with a dual booted computer using Linux Mint or Ubuntu.

If this post helped you let me know below, as I would be happy to hear about it.