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2.0.0 BETA 3

Since we published the BETA version of DramaQueen 2.0, we have received a lot of exciting feedback on the NOVEL extension. A frequently important subject was the hierarchical structure of novel documents. We have used the time to incorporate the feedback: Names have shuffled around a bit for novel documents. The synopsis text-level now consists of “parts”. The treatment and novel are structured into “chapters”, no longer “bits”. On the novel text-level, chapters may have additional subchapters. In the Outline panel, there will be an additional hierarchy level for subchapterts, meaning chapters can be expanded to reveal the contained subchapters. For script documents the changes are accordingly. Split scenes no longer appear on the same level as regular scenes, but they are structured below scenes. This improves the clarity in the Outline. With the changes also comes a refinement of the drag’n’drop behavior, especially in relation to subchapters and split scenes respectively. The new behavior is more intuitive in many situations.

A second important change is that the text display can be limited to the active part or chapter. This option is situated in the gear-menu of the Texts panel. It doesn’t only help to focus on a certain area of the text, but exporting and printing the document take this setting into consideration, too. It was an often requested feature to export only a certain scene or chapter.

We have not forgotten script writers. The new BETA 3 features the “Shot” text element. It can be used for secondary headings and improves the reading flow. The attention can be quickly drawn to a certain perspective. With the change also comes better compatibility with other script writing software. The keyboard shortcuts for quickly switching the active text element have also been adjusted to the established standard.

Some will be happy to hear that the script text elements are again available as icons in the tool bar. We had unified the access to paragraph styles via a drop-down widget due to the NOVEL extension, but in some situations, the individual icons are easier to access. This option is also located in the gear-menu of the Texts panel.

Naturally BETA 3 also fixes reported bugs. That said, some of the new features are quite fundamental, so they should be put to test within an extended BETA phase. We will use the comming two to three weeks for polishing and will then most likely release the final version of DramaQueen 2.0. Until then, we wish you a lot of fun with BETA 3 and as always we are looking forward to your feedback!

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Open BETA program

While developing new features and specifically before each new release we do extensive testing. We test all new and all important old features, the compatibility with old documents as well as the installation and performance on all computers available to us. After each work day, automatic tests are performed which we extend progressively to check more and more of the code base against regressions in an automated fashion.

With all this in place, we still had to follow up each new major release with a point-update, sometimes even several. This isn’t even a problem only for us as a small, resource-constrained startup, but for the largest and best in the software industry. It seems almost a law of nature that there will always be some last, hard to reproduce bugs left which only show themselves with broader use. For this reason many vendors push updates in waves to their users, not only to prevent overloading their servers, but also so they can stop the update and fix it, if it’s raining complaints.

As much as we would love to provide perfect, error-free software from the start, we must face reality and seek a solution. It would be sad if users ignore new DramaQueen versions which end with .0 entirely, and wait for a .2 or .3 update. At the same time, there are users who would like to work with the new features as soon as possible, and are willing to take the risk that there may be some last bugs hiding in the software.

And so we have decided that there will be a short, open BETA phase before each new major release. This means that all users will be offered a new BETA in the start panel when it’s available. This notice is easily suppressed for the future with a checkmark (or re-enabled from the Help main menu). To prevent anyone from switching to a BETA by accident, they are never offered via the regular automatic software updates. Instead, interested users can go to a dedicated BETA download page from the link in the start panel and download the BETA from there. This BETA download page has room for information on the specific BETA and its new features. Of course it is easily possible to switch back to the previous release. Once the BETA version is installed, the regular software update mechanism works again to update to newer BETAs and the final new release.

The necessary changes in the software update process are contained in DramaQueen 1.7.4, it is therefore recommended to install this update. Otherwise a future BETA will be offered as a regular update (although it will be marked with “BETA” after the version number).

We hope that this will make the .0 releases of DramaQueen live up to high expectations on reliability, and that we will find a “critical mass” of beta testers on this voluntary basis for each new release!

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New: DramaQueen now for Linux, too!

In the past months we received frequent requests for a Linux version. Until now, we had to regretfully put people off until “later” – even though DramaQueen is actually mainly developed on Linux! But with the new release of version 1.2.1, DramaQueen for Linux is now ready for download! Finally DramaQueen is available on all major platforms.
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Noises from the basement

It was planned for some time that I would contribute a post here from the development division, but then there was always the next important feature to implement.

I would like to tell a bit about what was an interesting challenge, the text rendering in DramaQueen. Text rendering? Everyone might imagine some different meaning. What I mean is: In the beginning there is a white area, DramaQueen wants to display certain glyphs, and some mysterious software module takes care of some pixels in that white area turning black, others staying white, and yet others turning out a shade of gray. From a distance this all becomes readable text.

But there are some important expectations on text rendering. Most software just uses a ready made module which is made available by the system itself (Mac OS, Windows, etc.). DramaQueen did just the same in the beginning. Later, though, we did run into trouble with that.

Screen plays follow a strict set of rules, so that they may be comparable against each other. Continue Reading →

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