Tech review: Editorially makes online editing and collaboration easier

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By Paulina Ignacak for 37th AVENUE

In the world of sticky notes, yelling over your computer screen and Google Docs comes a new way of sharing ideas with your newsroom buddies. Meet Editorially

Our goal is to support and encourage that [web] writing process—from the first flash of inspiration all the way through to publication, wrote Mandy Brown, founder of Editorially, in a blog post published last February.

At 37th AVENUE, we have had the opportunity to test out the platform in open beta for a few weeks now.

Strengths:

  • Minimalist interface: Whereas other online sharing tools, such as Google Docs, provide tons of extra options that you neither need nor understand, Editorially brings it back to basics. It’s all about the simple joys of every journalist…those of writing on an actual sheet of paper! Editorially spares you the bells and whistles, making it easy to concentrate on your words. The platform makes use of simple tags (markdown) to format bolds, italics, lists, etc. These tags can then be converted into HTML so your work is ready for online publication.

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  • Teamwork focused: A particularly interesting feature of Editorially is that it allows the “document creator” to designate specific roles to each collaborator. If you wish for others to read your text without being able to modify it, you assign them the role of reviewer. To enable them to make changes to the text, you assign them the role of editor. Editorially favours clear communication with built-in discussion panels. You find your colleague’s third paragraph particularly weak? Select the passage, click on the discussion bubble and propose a modification. Thanks to this tool, everyone has the possibility to contribute his or her own two cents. We’ve tried it and, honestly, we would never go back to Word’s revision functions.
  • Production management tools: To help manage the production process, Editorially allows others to see what stage of writing you are at as your work progresses. Is it still in draft mode, ready to be reviewed, or is it in its final version?
  • Automatic saving: Editorially saves and stores all the versions of a text in real-time. It makes tracking changes easily, allowing for multiple layers of revisions and real-time updates at once.
  • Cost: It’s free …for now. Whether that will continue remains to be determined.

Weaknesses

  • Import and export functions to improve: Currently, there is no importing or exporting to other services like Evernote, Google Docs and so forth. But apparently, that will change soon. “We’re planning a Word import feature, actually,” said Brown. For now there are some formatting issues when you copy and paste a document from Word. The best way to transfer a text is to export it in HTML, then open it in Word and save it.
  • Simultaneous writing is not an option: Only one person at a time can work on a project, which some may find difficult in a tool that is meant to be collaborative. However, it does give the possibility of booting people out of documents by requesting control. If unanswered within a minute or so, the project is yours.
  • The lack of an auto corrector: If like us, you cannot do without a spell check function, converting to Editorially means making a big sacrifice.

Although Editorially may have its weaknesses, all in all, the pros outweigh the cons. The platform does a fine job of helping teams improving their writing efficiency and increasing productivity. It is also quick to develop new features, which bodes well for its future.

Paulina Ignacak has lived in Montreal, Paris and Japan. She completed her Bachelor in Political Science and graduate degree in journalism from Concordia University. She joined the 37th Avenue team as a journalist. 37th Avenue is a Montreal agency specializing in the production of original content. Its mission is exploring new ways of approaching and presenting information.

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