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final-draft-logoScreenwriting software company Final Draft, Inc. launched a wide-ranging partner program aimed at technology providers, production companies, distributors, film schools, drama departments, writers’ associations, festivals and qualified industry professionals with the intention of increasing cooperation on techniques and technologies for scripted media. “Final Draft has always worked with both the industry and individual writers to improve our software functionality and integrate with production workflows,” says Final Draft Founder/CEO Marc Madnick. “But with the rapid evolution of media technologies and our integration into ‘cloud’ infrastructures, we know we need to create a more formal solution. Our goal is ambitious: to build a collaborative community which can help strengthen and guide the development of scripted media production around the globe, while enabling a vibrant partner ecosystem.”

The new initiative includes certifying compatible solutions and exercising tighter control over the company’s widely used FDX file format. Beginning in 2014, only users of Certified Partner solutions will receive technical support from Final Draft, Inc. on their FDX files. These applications will be identified with a “Final Draft Certified Partner” logo. “We want to make sure that everyone in the industry knows who is using the FDX format correctly,” explains Final Draft Chief Strategy Officer Josh Kline. “When you see the Final Draft Certified Partner logo, you will be assured of a seamless experience when exchanging files in Final Draft’s FDX format, with no unexpected changes in formatting or loss of important metadata. Just as importantly, the logo will identify technology partners who have committed to staying in sync with Final Draft as we move forward in the cloud.”

The Final Draft Partner Program is slated to coincide with the release of Final Draft 9 later this year. FD9 will be an updated version of the FDX file format, FDXv2, which carries the same .fdx file extension but with new features, such as the ability to carry third-party metadata. FDXv2 files will be backward compatible with the FD8’s FDXv1 file format, but not every feature will be available in the older software. The Partner Program is also part of an in-development cloud services platform called Final Draft Connect, which will include collaboration functionality; enterprise workflow and security features; and integration options with downstream media technologies and service providers, such as subtitling and closed-captioning software, second-screen technology solutions, product placement providers and many others.

Organizations or individual industry professionals may become members of the Partner Program at three distinct levels: Affiliate, Certified Partner and Premier Partner. The two higher levels will be supported by modest fees, and solution certification for the Certified Partner level will be independently provided by VeriTest, the leading manager of third-party solution certification programs for major technology platforms around the globe. Depending on the Partner Program level, membership benefits will include close technical and sales cooperation; access to the patent-pending FD9 FDXv2 schema; free access for partners’ customers to Final Draft technical support for FDX issues; the right to display a Final Draft logo; and participation in the first annual Final Draft Scripted Media Conference planned for early 2014.