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Editorially: Collaborative Writing, for Reals

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The ability to track changes, compare versions, and get feedback—all without the soul-crushing feature bloat and nasty web-unfriendly code of Microsoft Word? Dare an editor dream such a dream?

That’s what just-announced collaborative writing tool Editorially aims to do:

A Markdown-based writing environment lets you focus on the words and create clean markup easily; collaboration tools let you invite friends and trusted colleagues to review or edit your work; a document version system lets you mark points in a document’s history and compare versions to see what changed; notes and activity feeds encourage you to reflect on your work, for yourself and for others; and discussion threads recognize that the conversation around a text is just as important as the text itself.

And some of ALA’s crazy-smart friends and colleagues are behind it, too: Ethan Marcotte, Mandy Brown, and Jason Santa Maria.

After years of being forced to work in Word just to add comments to a draft—or to muddle my way through non-collaborative text editors—I cannot wait to try this out.

9 Reader Comments

  1. We’ve desperately needed a way to break with the Word-to-paper model of editorial collaboration. This is exciting news indeed.

  2. Looking forward to try it. ( Shameless Plug : ) We at Betaout.com too dared the dream of : the ability to track changes, compare versions, and get feedback—all without the soul-crushing feature bloat and nasty web-unfriendly code of Microsoft Word?.

    Do try us out and let us know what do you think.

  3. Have you guys ever heard about Google Docs ?

    Their equivalent of Microsoft Word has all that’s needed for collaborative writing: changes tracking, comments, discussions, comparing versions and instant messaging right inside the browser.

  4. Daniel – yes, I’ve spent hours and hours (and hours and hours) in Google Docs. It does some things beter than MS Word (like not crash). But…

    * Its track changes leaves much to be desired (you can’t see multiple layers of revisions at once, you can’t select which revisions to accept, you can’t easily see what’s different in a new version, unless you go to the last version and then compare back and forth)
    * It’s not available offline (which means I can’t edit on a plane or, half the time, even on Amtrak)
    * It’s *still* a super document-centric system where the expected output is a thing you would print or PDF. You can’t export it to (usable) HTML, so I end up copying and text-only pasting things from Google Docs into a text editor. Then I go back through and mark up the entire document in HTML in the text editor, moving back and forth from Google to the text editor to make sure I am catching all the places where a word or two should be italicized, making sure I am including the right links, etc. Not only is this a huge waste of time, but it’s also a great way to introduce errors. So while I appreciate that Google Docs are free and can be shared, they don’t solve the fundamental problems with Word.

  5. This sounds fantastic. I welcome anything that will reduce time spent jumping through the Word > Text Editor > Web hoops, just to get copy into nice, usable HTML.

    +1 Sara’s comments on why Google Docs doesn’t cut it.

  6. Is SubEthaEdit (Mac only, not cross-platform yet) similar to such this propose?

    And so I checked Editorially’s site that said offering Javascript engineer position? What about Network / Socket programmer?
    I don’t see anyone mention about protocol or port that could connect all person remotely to be able to do “collaborative writing” or I missing something?

    BTW cheers for Editorially team.

  7. I’m enjoying Editorially. I do think that lightweight stylesheet creation/selection would be helpful. For instance, in the editor h1, h2 and h3 all display at the same size currently. Also in the exported html the unordered lists seem to be broken, showing only as * one * two *three inline. Instead of html preview in the browser there is export to a zip containing the .md and .html files. Why not have preview and export?

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