Writeley — Good Model for Some Types of Document Collaboration

Writely is a Web-based word processor, now owned by Google. It is easy to use, with a good range of word processing features. If you think of it as a straight replacement for Word, it is unexciting. Features are not so broad, and it relies on a fast Internet connection. Two other applications are much more interesting, however.

There is often a need for individuals to maintain small parts of a Web site. Tools such as Macromedia Contribute target this function. Writely is ideal for this, and free. Its editing functions are familiar, and it is very easy to use for this task.

It is also ideally suited for handling documents that are primarily accessed from the Web and edited by more than one person (without a single central editor who reviews all changes). This is a quite common class of document. The Web-centric setup makes it easy for individuals (who can have different desktop platforms) to make changes to documents and work with other formats (in particular Word, OpenOffice, and PDF).

Tools following this model will become widely used.

... Steve Kille

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