Slugline 1.2.2

Slugline 1.2.2 is available now in the App Store. This is a minor update to 1.2.1 that fixes a rare, but annoying case where quotation marks, apostrophes, and dashes could be replaced by their “smart” equivalents. This could happen inconsistently, leaving you with half-smart quotes, like this:

Nobody wants half-smart quotes, but since not everyone agrees about whether smart quotes belong in a screenplay, this is a good opportunity to discuss Slugline’s approach.

Type and Writers

The bug was brought to our attention by noted actor, author, and British Person Stephen Fry, who we were delighted to find is an adoring Slugline user. In his detailed bug report, he wrote:

[Smart quotes] are stylistically wrong for fixed width fonts such as Courier, Courier Prime etc.

It so happens that we tend to agree. We love that screenplays feel typed, not typeset. So Slugline uses typewriter-style straight quotes and apostrophes, rather than trying to cleverly replaced them with the curly varieties:

Slugline does this irrespective of your System Preferences, which are a bit coarse when it comes to this stuff:

Notice that the toggle for replacing quotes is linked to replacing dashes. We’ve designed Slugline to ignore this setting, as your general-purpose preference here may not match your desires when screenwriting. For writing emails, blog posts, and just about anything other than a screenplay, curly quotes, proper apostrophes, and en- and em-dashes are wonderful things. But in the monospace, typewriter-emulation model of screenwriting, things are less clear-cut.

For example, take the age-old debate about two spaces after a period. It’s always wrong to put two spaces after a period when using a proportional font. But with Courier or the like, it’s a matter of personal preference.

Some writers might love smart quotes in their screenplays. They can look fine, especially in Courier Prime. Here’s an example:

But no one wants smart dashes in Courier, because what distinguishes an en-dash or em-dash from a hyphen is the width of the glyph, and in monospaces typefaces, all characters are the same width. Here’s what it looks like if you allow OS X to replace -- with an em-dash:

Not good. Screenwriters are very picky about the difference between, say, a dash - a double-dash --. So even though we understand that you might respectfully disagree with Mr. Fry and prefer smart quotes in your screenplay, we can’t simply take the System Preferences as gospel, because screenplays, with their monospace, typewriter-inspired text, follow different rules.

So, for the time being, Slugline keeps your quotes un-smart. In the future, we may revisit this decision, and we are always delighted for your feedback on these matters!

Slugline 1.2.1

In Slugline 1.2.0, we changed a lot under the hood in order to increase performance and pave the way for some exciting new features. In the process, we broke a few things. So instead of a stand-up-fight, this release is...

Another Bug Hunt

Slugline 1.2.1 is available now on the App Store. Here’s what we fixed:

  • Accent marks once again work the way they they shüd.
  • We fixed a bug introduced in 1.2.0 where Cut and Paste would stop working and beep at you annoyingly. Then we fixed another.
  • Centered text once again correctly previews and prints with any styling you may have applied (bold, italics, underlining).
  • Slugline once again remembers where you last were in your screenplay when you re-open it.
  • Whole-line Notes and Omits are once again removed from Preview and Print without leaving any telltale whitespace.
  • Kerning is now prettier in the Outline Panel.
  • Preview performance improvements.
  • Pasting text into the PDF name field works once again.
  • We’ve improved the accuracy of margins when printing.
  • Scroll bars are now prettier always.
  • Page break lines are drawn more accurately in Edit mode.
  • Slugline now warns you if you try to open a document with incompatible text encoding.

A double feature of Speed and Heat

We’re sorry to report that Slugline no longer turns your laptop into a convenient space heater.

In the name of increased performance, Slugline 1.2 was a bit too hungry for power. We reduced power consumption considerably in this update, and we’d like to make further improvements in this area. If you have feedback on Slugline’s power usage, please let us know!

Title Pages

Title Page elements can once again contain “empty” lines. This is accomplished by putting at least two spaces on the line that you wish to appear blank. In the below example, the Title and Contact values each contain one of these “bridging” lines that contains spaces, but appears blank in print.

Title:
  TIME SHARK IN FRANCE

  THIS TIME IT’S FIN
Contact:
  Steve Z.
  Aquatic Dreams Productions

  14 Marina Boulevard

We’ve also simplified the default Title Page that gets created when you choose Format → Add Title Page. We’ve omitted the “Credit” field, because it was leading to some confusion. If you want an accreditation other than the default “by”, you can add back the credit field by copy/pasting this example:

Title: TIME SHARK 3: SHARK AROUND THE CLOCK
Credit: written underwater by
Author: Steve Z.

Got questions about creating more complex Title Pages? This post can help.

New Shortcuts for Converting Elements

We can never resist adding a few features too.

  • Use ⌘. to convert an element to a Scene Heading.
  • Use ⇧⌘. to convert an element to a Transition.

More to Come

I know I say this a lot, but there are some really exciting things coming for Slugline. Stay tuned!

We get some of the kindest and most thoughtful reviews on the App Store, for which we are beyond grateful. Each new release provides a blank canvas for these reviews, so if you’re feeling the love, please help spread the word about Slugline!

Start Writing Now, Buy Slugline Later

Try this. Open TextEdit (it comes free with your Mac), or any other text editor.

Now start typing a screenplay.

Don't worry about formatting, just type the text of the story you have in mind.

Chances are, you’d end up something that looks like this:

That text looks kinda like a screenplay. Enough that anyone could read it and get the right idea.

Wanna know a secret?

You just wrote in Fountain, the plain-text format that Slugline uses.

Save that file as a plain text file (.txt), and open it in Slugline. It will look like this:

The golden rule of Fountain is that it’s plain text that reads like a screenplay.

And an interesting byproduct of that is the Dirty Secret of Slugline:

Slugline is the first screenwriting app that doesn’t require itself.

In other words, you can start writing your screenplay today, without Slugline, using any app that makes text.

Don’t feel like buying Slugline yet? Fine. Get writing anyway. We’ll be here when you’re ready.