I have used iMovie and Final Cut Pro for video projects. I find them easy to work with and intuitive to some degree. After I finish the project, I may want to change one word that appears multiple times, and I have to do it by hand. Also, the projects take a lot of space.

I am looking for a video editor where the video project file is plain text, which I understand to be an edit decision list. My goals are:

  • to separate heavy digital assets from the light edit decision list
  • to put the edit decision list into a version control system like Git and GitHub
  • to automate some parts of editing with the keyboard, e.g. find-and-replace on captions, change times and durations, and adjust multiple dB levels
  • to have a cross-platform solution for collaborators on different operating systems (Windows, macOS, and Linux)

Two examples outside of video production are OpenSCAD in 3D modelling, which generates STL files from plain-text files that are two orders of magnitude smaller; and Inkscape, which reads and writes plain-text SVG files.

I found this article on opensource.com that mentions Kdenlive and Flowblade, but plain-text files seem an export rather than the proejct file itself.

The closest that I found would be Bash scripting based on FFMPEG for video concatenation and effects, and SVG for graphic overlays.

Does such a tool exist?

1 Answer 1


AviSynth seems to be the tool that directly answers your needs on Windows. This is a completely script-based editing approach, with quite powerful instruments (built-in or as plug-ins) for reading, processing, generating titles and general editing.

Coupled with a dedicated editor such as AVSEdit or AvsP, you can have previews, context help, parameter completion and similar things one can expect from an IDE.

A completely different approach is to use an editor that has text-like project files. Adobe Premiere Pro, for example, uses project files (*.prproj) that are essentially XML files. (Newer CC version have it gzip-compressed, but it's easy to unpack them). Now, XML is not quite 'plain-text', and prproj are not made human-friendly, but it's possible to tweak some little things like titles. I wouldn't recommend this approach though.

  • 1
    That seems exactly what I want, but it is for Windows only. I updated the question.
    – emonigma
    Aug 8, 2019 at 12:33
  • Did you try it with Wine?
    – Mawg
    Aug 8, 2019 at 15:28
  • 1
    I'm accepting the answer because the thread got no other answers in 7 months and because I have used Avisynth for a month now and am very happy with it. See this answer for an installation guide that avoids common pitfalls.
    – emonigma
    Feb 12, 2020 at 15:39
  • 1
    @MawgsaysreinstateMonica I used a spare Windows desktop computer. I prefer to overload an old desktop with video editing and compression than to shorten the life of the CPU on my macOS computer.
    – emonigma
    Feb 12, 2020 at 17:08

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.