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.

Writing Great Blog Posts Consistently is Nearly Impossible

great blog postsLately I've been trying to come up with ways to write great blog posts consistently for all my websites.  Everyone wants to write the best articles that their audience will really engage with.  I sort of had the sad realization that writing engaging posts consistently is something that lots of bloggers and content marketers struggle with.  Honestly, you can't always predict what people will like or hate until you've written it and it's gone up.  It sucks.

I've experienced this sad truth firsthand many times.  One of the most frustrating blog posts I've written was “Most Expensive and Cheapest Gas Prices around the World.”  I spent a lot of time researching and playing with numbers to make sure this was an accurate piece.   (That's saying a lot for someone who compared math teachers to nazis.)  Not only that but I choose the keywords and title for this article carefully.  It was well researched, SEO optimized, and had all the right ingredients to come out to be a masterpiece the internet would love.  Except… it failed miserably.

How does a blogger know when great blog posts have failed?  Usually it's when you've put a ton of effort into an article and nobody comments on it, nobody shares it on social media networks, and basically nobody likes it since Google Analytics is not showing anyone landing on it.  This is exactly what happened with my gas prices article.  Even though I did a lot of research and put a lot of time into writing it, people for some were not attracted to it.

To this day I still don't really understand why.  Usually in author's mind the post they wrote was “Epic” or “Awesome” or choose another word to insert here.  This is basically what I thought but I was wrong.  Hard to admit but it's true.

Let me tell you something, it doesn't matter how much money you have to analyze data.  It's damn near impossible  to predict what articles Google will rank you for, people will share, connect with and comment on.  Talk to professional bloggers and they will tell you the same thing.  “I spent hours writing what I thought was a great post, but nobody commented on it.  Then I just posted a picture with a few words and everyone commented on it.” was something I heard at Affiliate Summit recently.  Several other successful bloggers complained about the same thing.

This is really not an uncommon discussion to have with bloggers across the spectrum and different niches.  Sometimes it's just hard to know even if you've put in the time, research, and effort.  Those great blog posts that everyone loves seem harder to come by then a white truffle sometimes.

This is why I encourage blog coaching clients I work with to focus on Quantity over Quality in the beginning.  Sure, it's hard to know what other people will think is a great blog post but if you don't have enough posts up to see what people are landing on, it is even harder to know what you should be writing about.  The more content you have the easier it will be to know and figure it out.   Still, you will be pulling your hair out like other bloggers because it can drive you mad.

Maybe you can read my gas prices article and tell me why it sucks and nobody liked it?  Have you experienced the struggle to find those elusive epic and great blog posts?  I'd love to hear your frustrations and blog bombs too.

Dealing with Blogger Burnout

blogger burnout

Recently I have been having what is known as “Blogger Burnout.”  This is essentially the feeling of not being able to write or blog.  The problem is not finding subjects to write about.  I have plenty to write about and a lot of great ideas for articles and content.  The issue is the actual enjoyment and willingness to write and convey my thoughts has become increasingly difficult over the past couple weeks.

It's hard for me to pinpoint and zero in on why blogger burnout is hitting me hard now.  Part of it is that a friend of mine is also experiencing blogger burnout and is taking a break from writing altogether.  While I was not happy to hear that, since he is a good writer with good style, I really understood and respected that decision.

I was analyzing what was making me feel down about the writing and blogger field.  This made me look back at some of my articles I worked hard on in the past.  Looking at some of my articles I thought to myself, “Wow, this is a great material… but nobody read it!”  This might sound like kind of an A*&hole thing to think, but here are my 3 strongest and best written articles I did on my auto blog;

These were articles I worked long and hard on and I didn't write them to be SEO optimized or for massive traffic.  I assumed the merit of the good writing would prevail… but that wasn't the case.   While some got decent traffic and hits for a little bit most of these are not popular pillar posts.

That really gets me!  I have written a lot of articles in the past just for the sake of traffic or to insight discussion to get a lot of hits.  I mean I am not proud of it, but that is something everyone does.

The other issue is I have been writing and blogging online for quite awhile.  While I think I have made great improvements in my writing abilities, I don't feel like I am at a point that I should be in my writing career.  It's kind of depressing looking back and feeling like you wasted time trying to build sites and blogs but it just didn't workout or you went for positions or jobs which you didn't get.

I was going to write a list of ways to conquer blogger burnout.  You know, because everyone loves list and that's great for SEO.  Instead of me writing a list of ways you can avoid the ‘burn', which may or may not be helpful to you, I would love to hear other writers and bloggers experiences with being a blogger burnout victim.

How did and what did you do to overcome your blogger burnout?  Did something inspire you?  Did you take a break from blogging, writing and social media for awhile?  Did you just decide to quit?   Leave a comment and maybe you can help another writer or blogger find their passion again.

Catch me on Twitter @AdamYamada … if you can!