Celtx jumps a version, releases 2.0

Celtx LogoAfter years of perpetual beta (it's vogue these days), Celtx, the open source media pre-production and screenwriting application, finally earned its 1.0 status this past June. So it might seem a little odd that only eight months later, Celtx is making the jump to 2.0 (and it does seem a little sudden) so let's take a look and see if this new version worth its version number.

A new codebase

Celtx is a XUL application, and repurposes the underpinnings of Firefox for its evil machinations. In 2.0, Celtx finally makes the leap to the Firefox 3.0 codebase, bringing with it some awesome new stability updates, speed increases, and more. It's still missing movable tabs, but hopefully the next feature can help solve that...

Toolbox

As a user of Celtx myself (and a longtime writer and reviewer of it here and at YouMakeMedia, our sister site), I've always had a few feature requests and complaints. The ability to use add-ons and modifications is one that I've actually had since 2005, when I first used Celtx! I'm thrilled it's finally made it in the application. To be an "official" toolbox application, e.g. to use specific functions of the Celtx collaboration servers and to be listed on the Celtx website, your plugin has to be approved by Celtx, however I've been assured that you are still allowed to make and distribute your own plugins as long as they don't use functions that plug into the Celtx server (the proprietary aspect of the Celtx ecosystem). That brings me to the next big new thing:

Celtx Studio

Celtx StudioUntil now, Celtx has used Project Central, an online site, to facilitate collaboration between writers. Project Central is great, but it doesn't offer a lot of granular control, and is mainly designed for showcasing your work to others.

Celtx Studio is designed to augment Project Central, allowing folks to upload their projects and set sharing permissions and other necessary settings for managing a project. It's different from Project Central because a project isn't inherently public if you upload it. In fact, the only way to make it public is through the "preview" function or by uploading it separately to Project Central. They've also added a long-requested backup feature, which will let you go back to any save point in your project history. Never worry about accidentally deleting that great line again - you'll always be able to go to your archives and recover safely!

Celtx Studio, being proprietary, is where Celtx has revealed they plan to make money. It's currently free during the beta period, but after the kinks are ironed out they plan to charge $50/year. Interestingly, they haven't specified whether that's Canadian or American dollars - Celtx is based in Canada but the majority of professional users are likely to be in America (Hollywood and all) so that's a decision that will be important.

Problems

Of course, moving Celtx Studio and the collaboration features to a paid model is ideal for Celtx - it's finally a business model, and shows that Open Source can find ways of making money. However, the move diminishes one of Celtx's core functions; Celtx has always diversified itself from the pack based on its all-in-one convenience and its collaboration. With the collaboration stripped unless you're willing to pay, does Celtx's all-in-one convenience make it worth using?

I'd suspect the desktop client won't disappear anytime soon, primarily because there are very few free applications for managing the pre-production of a media project, or writing a screenplay. However I do bet that Studio won't catch on as quickly as they hope. It's not too polished, and it seems very narrow in scope. Perhaps I'd be looking at this differently if I hadn't been using Celtx with collaboration easily for the past four years for free, however it seems that taking away features from users is not ideal - adding features is the way to go. Admittedly the new archives feature is pretty awesome, but I'm not sure if it's enough to justify Studio to existing users.

Maybe we'll be seeing some alternative collaboration options from add-on developers in the near future. Perhaps an app that allows FTP-syncing of scripts (another long requested feature, and one that was in early versions of Celtx) or one that automatically emails scripts to the other collaborators when they are saved.

Either way, I know there will be a lot of users (myself included) who won't find enough value in the $50/year fee to begin paying. I hope I'm wrong for their sake - the Celtx team is comprised of some awesome people who I've supported strongly over the past four years - but ultimately I'm not convinced that Studio (at least in its current form) will be the sole monetisation solution for Celtx.

Avatar for chris Chris Van Patten - http://chrisvanpatten.com/

Chris is a graphic designer, theatrical designer, filmmaker, and website developer. He is a co-founder of FOSSwire. You can find more information about Chris and his projects by visiting his personal website (link above).

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Discussion: Celtx jumps a version, releases 2.0

  1. # Posted on 28 February 2009 at 04:29 AM

    [...] Celtx jumps a version, releases 2.0 After years of perpetual beta (it’s vogue these days), Celtx, the open source media pre-production and screenwriting application, finally earned its 1.0 status this past June. So it might seem a little odd that only eight months later, Celtx is making the jump to 2.0 (and it does seem a little sudden) so let’s take a look and see if this new version worth its version number. [...]



  2. Joel Kelly (guest)

    # Posted on 02 March 2009 at 01:48 PM

    They're not removing features, they're holding them hostage.

    Wait, that doesn't sound any better, does it?



  3. Thomas (guest)

    # Posted on 04 March 2009 at 03:53 PM

    Proejct central also have the option to share to only users you sleected, the onlye relay new thing is you can se exactly who edited it and when.



  4. Thomas (guest)

    # Posted on 04 March 2009 at 03:58 PM

    Proejct central also have the option to share> Proejct central also haved the option to share.

    But al that is now stripped out of project central.



  5. Bees (guest)

    # Posted on 01 May 2009 at 02:25 AM

    I don't like the new pay celtx at all. You can't start charing for somthing that you were giving away for free. How am i supposed to convince all the other writers who were sharing scripts with me to all convert to $50 bucks a month. I'll probably bite the bullet and buy final draft now.



  6. Filipek (guest)

    # Posted on 20 May 2009 at 12:10 PM

    The cloud is really diminishing the concept of OSS. What's the point of an open source client (which is just a bastardized version of Firefox anyway) if all the important stuff like producing PDFs is online and out of my control? Celtx is about as open source as Microsoft Windows if you ask me - and I only have to license that once. The fact that Celtx just uses LaTeX for its engine should make it easier to reverse engineer a truly open source version though. Time to get to work, methinks.



  7. Elmur (guest)

    # Posted on 27 May 2009 at 10:30 AM

    This is the OS model going one step too far - a shame really - I think they have poisoned their own (great) product.



  8. # Posted on 20 January 2011 at 03:32 PM

    Yes, me too, I was using and recomending it quite a while, and to many people without money (in latinamerica, eastern europe, self organized schools) but since the colaboration costs, I have leaved it. Too sad. Fine they still have the stand alone program for free, but to be true, in a colaborative work context like film, it is of little sense if you cant share. So - why dont they give a 3 seat free studio account?

    I mean, the ideal of open source for me if that you can do, with more effort (like more coordinating who can use the sharing), things for free, and if you pay, you just gain time and comodity.

    But this way, without paying, no way. Hope they change, after these 2 years. alltough for 1st world professionals 5 dollar is really cheap



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