John August Announces 'Highland,' a Screenwriting App That Makes PDFs Editable Again

Hot on the heels of Fountain, a screenwriting tool that could become a standard, John August has announced "Highland," a Mac app that takes the headaches out of screenwriting file types. Though it's still in beta, Highland could become the go-to app for converting between Fountain, Final Draft, and PDF. I'll let John explain in this walk-through video:

Video is no longer available:

These are the main features of Highland:

  • It creates perfectly-formatted PDFs from Fountain or FDX files.
  • It creates future-proof Fountain files you can edit in any text editor.
  • It melts PDFs, making them editable.

Basically, it's a Swiss Army knife for file formats. As I've said before, I have had plenty of trouble working with other screenwriters and dealing with differing file types, and Highland looks to make this a piece of cake. John also points out at the bottom of his post that Highland will be able to convert old .fdr Final Draft files into something usable.

Right now Highland is only beta, but if you sign up, and you've got plenty of scripts lying around, you could be picked to test it out. There isn't a timeline for release yet, but I have to imagine that if they are already in beta, release isn't too far around the corner. No word yet whether it will stay a Mac only app, or if it will eventually be ported to the PC.

Screenwriters, do you think you'll find a place for Highland in your toolbox?

Link: Highland - The Screenplay Convertor for Macintosh

[via John August]

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Your Comment


This is a God send! I made the jump over to Final Draft a while back, but I have a load of celtx formatted scripts that either need conversion or editing. And trust me when I say I don't want to dive back into celtx anytime soon.

Bless you John August!

February 16, 2012 at 1:55PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I am suprised it's taken such an essential app like this so long to hit the market. I will be buying it as soon as it is available.

February 16, 2012 at 4:15PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


No it will not find a way into my toolbox. I prefer to write in a plain text editor, so this looks good at first blush.

OSX only. This is a problem. Not insurmountable as I have a number of unused OSX machines in mothballs. It would be easier to incorporate if it also had Windows compatibility.

It seems to be a converter only. This could be useful, but it will not help much at all with writing a screenplay. I have a wish list of advanced writing tools, and this addresses none of them.

Finally, it is limited Beta only (and may be only available the restrictive App Store anyway). That Beta is closed. If or when it is ever out of Beta, it will not have any of my wish list (being cut out of the loop arbitrarily does this) and it will almost certainly be too late to be included into my production.

This is late to market. Format changers like this were available on the Amiga in 1991. It is only surprising that Apple programmers took over two decades to reinvent the wheel.

February 16, 2012 at 5:03PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


It is a great tool but I have been using adobe story for a while and it's pretty good. Adobe story is a very good tool for screen writing. It integrate perfect with premiere cs5 and the fact that it is in the cloud makes it better.

February 16, 2012 at 5:32PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Good point, Menelikk. Story really is pretty good. I know it's free now, but will it remain that way?

February 17, 2012 at 11:56AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I red on adobe website ..
Access to CS Live online services is complimentary until April 12, 2012. At the end of this complimentary period, Adobe may offer for-purchase subscriptions. Final pricing of for-purchase subscriptions is to be determined, but is currently estimated at US$19.99–$29.99 per month or US$199–$299 per year. For more information (

February 17, 2012 at 3:21PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


with this tool you can write in fountain and export to an FDX file and import those scripts into story.
The really cool thing about this tool is it makes it not an either or choice.
I really wish it was this easy in get in and out of celtx but they lock you into their format.

February 17, 2012 at 5:25PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

You voted '-1'.

Excellent! Both of August's apps will be tremendously helpful. This reduces that format headache.

February 17, 2012 at 11:55AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I thought a huge advantage to PDF is that if you send your script out, nobody else can change/modify/edit your intellectual property, whether for ill-gotten gains or not. Is that now out the window?

February 18, 2012 at 9:52AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


John answers this exact question on his website:

If you password-protect your PDF, Highland won’t convert it.

If your PDF is just a bunch of images, Highland won’t convert it. (For example, you could print your script then scan it, or use a feature like Bronson Watermarker’s “Deep Burn.”)

Could a meddling producer work around these safeguards? Absolutely. But she could also just have her assistant retype your script. That happens every day.

February 18, 2012 at 6:21PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Joe Marine
Camera Department

Has anyone using Trelby exported out an FDX XML file and opened it up in Final Draft?
I'm kinda curious, since if a free program like Trelby can create/convert/export FDX files correctly, why would anyone pay for a file conversion utility.

February 18, 2012 at 10:23PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Andrew Mckee

When will this app be available...I am just in the process of rewriting an adobe pdf based script and would love to take the fountain for a test ride...however the beta testing closed almost as soon as it is pretty shame that it happened so quickly...otherwise I can see the sweet spot this app is hitting...definitely a need for it...what do you guys think what would the price be?

February 19, 2012 at 2:37AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


This is an incredible piece of software. I was so bummed when I read that they have all the beta testers they need. Cannot wait for the app.

February 19, 2012 at 8:13AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM