Butter Docs

The new prose app from the makers of Arc Studio.

Butter Docs

I'm writing this post in Butter Docs, which is a new app from the makers of the excellent Arc Studio screenwriting software.

First off, I do not love the name. I don't know how they landed on it, but I do not love it. Second up (is there such a thing as second up?) this app just launched a few days ago and, if Arc Studio is anything to go by, it will be a little buggy early on but they'll iterate it really fast and it will become much more solid in a short space of time. I haven't found the bugs yet, but I have literally been using it for the length of time it has taken to type these words so far.

Third up (I'm really leaning into this construction now), I suspect this app is going to be AMAZING. It's essentially Arc Studio for prose, and by prose, I mean anything from a memo or a blog post to a full novel or non-fiction book. If it realises its potential, it could be a serious rival to Scrivener. And I don't say that lightly, because Scrivener is awesome.

What we're looking at here is online storage with local backups (you never have to hit save), drafts WITHIN the main file - by which I mean, as with Arc Studio, that you don't create a new file for a new draft, you just take a snapshot of the old draft, name it, and move on, at which point you can have changed highlighted AND those changes can be referenced to ANY previous draft. SO if I have sent something to person A, then a new draft to Person B and then I do ANOTHER draft, I cane send that new draft to Person A and highlight not just the new changes, but anything that has changed since the last draft that they saw. I hope that makes sense.

Also, like Arc Studio, there is a really strong structuring element to Butter Docs; you get a beat sheet that you can fill in, colour code etc. Each beat is then attached to a section of your document and the sections move when you move the beats (Final Draft take note). And when you're writing, those beats that you have planned out are listed in the left hand panel, so that you can see where you are and where you're going (Final Draft, take note again).

Butter is collaborative, like Google Docs (I have never used Google Docs, but I think the comparison is accurate), which means team members can amend and comment on drafts and that is all labelled and taken care of clearly and neatly.

You can also make notes, add research links etc and everything is available right where you want it as you're writing.

There's no mobile or iPad app yet, but it's on its way (the Arc Studio one is a triumph of the form - Final Draft, are you even seeing this?)

Butter Docs (I REALLY do not love the name) is not cheap. The early-adopter can grab it now for $100 per year, but the full price is going to be three times that. I have no idea yet if that represents value for money, but I have a novel in progress right now and I'm going to be moving the whole thing over to this so I can really kick the tyres.