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Celtx in the Cloud (Celtx Free) – Review

June 29, 2012

Long overdue, I know.

Late in February, Celtx rolled out version 2.9.5 of desktop Celtx, and as I reported at the time, this incrementalized update had very little effect on authoring scripts and building projects in pre-production using the downloadable desktop Celtx tool (version 2.9.7 is now available). Owners of Mastering Celtx could breathe easy, as Celtx still looked like Celtx.

In the cloud

However, at the same time, Celtx rolled out a scriptwriting and novel-writing tool completely contained within a browser environment: Celtx in the cloud (also known as Celtx Free).

(Note that screen, A/V, stage and audio script formats are all included.)

Create a Celtx account, and you could begin writing a script (or novel) completely inside a browser window (scripped.com has been doing this for a few years), without need for downloading the Celtx executable (which itself was built on top of the Mozilla Firefox client).

Celtx Free home screen

Celtx Free home screen

Once a new file is created in one’s personal Celtx account (using a very Google Docs-like interface), the text editor looks like this (click to magnify):

Celtx Free editing screen

Celtx Free editing screen

This is a basic text editing screen (again, not so different from Google Docs), with the addition of a drop-down menu to select all scripting elements (scene heading, dialog, etc.).

In other words, it’ll do exactly what you need in writing a script.

But users of desktop Celtx — or even the Celtx Script mobile app — might be wondering why anyone should use this in-browser editor for their scripts or novels (when both the in-browser editor and the downloadable executable are free). The answer is at least three-fold:

  • The file will automatically be saved to “the cloud” for access anywhere, on any device (previously, saving to the cloud was only done using the subscription application known as Celtx Studio)
  • Scripts can be easily shared (with editing privileges!) with clients, casual collaborators, teachers or students, with no need for them to have Celtx installed on their laptop or desktop systems
  • Scripts can be easily shared (with editing privileges!) with clients, casual collaborators, teachers or students using tablets or even cellphones (no need for an app to be installed)

The latter two reasons are appealing for educators, government staffers, and other professionals who are prevented from installing programs or mobile apps by their place of employment — and also appealing to anyone who has ever asked a client to install a program in order to view work.

However, as Mastering Celtx covers in a number of chapters, Celtx is more than just an editing tool — it provides a suite of tools for professionals, aspiring professionals, and media students — including outlining and research capabilities, storyboarding, camera blocking and production scheduling. Casual script writers or novel writers may not need these tools; media makers often do.

Now Celtx has an answer for this (which I’ll get to at the conclusion of this post), but bottom line: if you’re an experienced Celtx user, or if you’re an experienced media professional or pro-am, you’ll probably want to continue downloading and using desktop Celtx (version 2.9.7 at the time of this post).

Desktop Celtx will allow you to compose and edit scripts or novels while offline — and it will give you all the additional Celtx preproduction features so frequently discussed both on this blog and in Mastering Celtx.

For casual Celtx users (e.g., secondary school students; a client; your mom), using Celtx Free can make a lot of sense: it lacks all the (sometimes confusing) bells and whistles of desktop Celtx, and it makes script sharing or fiction sharing very easy.

Back & forth between desktop Celtx and the Cloud

The good news is that you can initially compose (or later edit) a script using Celtx Free, and then bring the file back into desktop Celtx or the Celtx Script app without a hiccup. The reverse is true as well.

Example 1:

You can commence writing a new script or novel in the cloud. Later, you can open up this file from your desktop Celtx (be sure to upgrade to the current version): File / Open from Celtx.

You’ll see a blue banner indicating Script-Only Mode. But if you plan to use the Master Catalog, storyboarding, production scheduling or other features, then select File / Save Project As from the desktop Celtx main menu — and  save the script/novel to your local hard drive. You’ll then have all of the usual desktop Celtx features available to you.

Example 2:

You can upload a project file created using desktop Celtx, and then continue to edit the script or novel using only Celtx Free. However, within Celtx Free, you’ll be in a “script-only mode” — you won’t have access to the project library’s items (master catalog, storyboard, etc.). You’ll need to “reclaim” the entire project using desktop Celtx and opening the file within that environment.

Advantages of Celtx Free

I’ve mentioned a few of the advantages of Celtx Free already, but here’s a more complete list:

  • Shared access to scripts or novels used to require a paid subscription to Celtx Studio. Now you can share a script or novel with up to 10 users — free of charge.
  • No program installations are required for users viewing or editing Celtx scripts/novels.
  • Scripts/novels are available on any device, and stay synced on any device.
  • Project versioning is built in and free (a paid Celtx studio subscription enabled versioning previously).
  • Comments can be shared.
  • 2Gb of free storage is available to each individual user.

Disadvantages of Celtx Free

Celtx Free lacks many of the key features of desktop Celtx:  storyboards, sketches, bookmarks, catalogs, and so on. If you already use these features, or if you can envision using them, then Celtx Free may not be a robust enough tool for you. In addition, Celtx Free does require an Internet connection — not always available, even in our modern world.

Celtx Edge

Celtx’s answer to some of Celtx Free’s shortcomings is a new subscription-based online application: Celtx Edge. Celtx Edge more fully supplants both desktop Celtx and Celtx Studios — and in a future blog post, I’ll explore the features of Celtx Edge (which you can try for free for 30 days).

Comments? Agreements or disagreements? What do users think of Celtx Free? Can it replace desktop Celtx, the Celtx Script mobile app, or your need for Celtx Studios?

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3 Comments
  1. Hello Terry,
    Very nice review! I’ve been an avid fan of Celtx Studio until about two years ago when it was abandoned, then I discovered some new online options. Did you see Scenechronize (https://scenechroinze.com) or Producion Minds (https://www.productionminds.com) yet? PM was recently picked up by a school here in Minnesota, the kids love it. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts.
    Best,
    Susan

    • Thanks for the notes, and I haven’t yet checked out (but will) these new apps. I am planning to author an article comparing new screenwriting solutions, so keep an eye out!

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  1. Celtx Edge – Review « Mastering Celtx

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