Some Contemporary and Collaborative Online Writing Tools Part 1

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I am a technical writer dealing mainly with IT related documents ranging from simple blogs to bulky project proposal for our esteemed clienteles. I have to work in a collaboration with other programmers and marketing professionals mostly online. Therefore, I always in search of some contemporary writing and editing tools, which offer a collaborative environment online.

It is true we have excellent writing and editing tools for off-line work in form of Microsoft Word and alike text editors, but there are a big void exists on the Internet for online work that updates in real-time and offers exclusive features and functionality that make our lives easy in mobile era where tablets and sometime smartphones are a part of Internet.

When I had started my search some thoughts were running in my mind regarding to the expectations from the online writing tools in my own contexts as a technical writer. Let me share the traits I expect from the modern online editing tools here.

Trait #1: Smooth Sailing

 As a writer we often feel lots of distractions with our own thought process and if any writing tool adds some more that may make our lives measurable so some autocorrect options, some error warning signs like red or blue or green lines under the words are drawing our immediate attentions during writing and minimize the typos at good extent.

Of course, customization of proofing tools and allocating desired dictionaries are some bonus features to consider. Quick auto-save and rapid interactions are desired traits at my side.

Trait #2: Markdown

The more interaction with UI of the editor, the more wastage of time and energy. Therefore, markdown support is essential to fast and precisely without losing the beauty of the written text or content. Latest markdown editors are providing keyboard shortcuts to make text decent and organized by making them bold, italics, allocating various headings (h1 – h6), etc.

If you have enough options to select font face, type size, leading patterns, and some measures you can decorate your content exclusively for your targeted audiences and their tastes.

Trait #3: Discussion Board

Once you finish writing you definitely need a proof reader other than you. Many times you need a good constructive critics or criticism from your team if you are working in a collaborative team. Therefore, my ideal online writing tool should have capabilities to offer sharing, editing, reviewing, and most importantly opening discussion board so you all team members can see/make annotations, remarks, comments, and suggest required changes freely and in real-time.

No doubt, our online tool should have features to differentiate the remarks from each other in the team by either adding their names or symbols to we can communicate easily on those issues in particular.

Trait #4: Managing Multiple Documents

Since we need to work in a team there are enough chances to have multiple documents on the discussion board or a team had fragmented the same big documents in small parts and each member has to do her own writing simultaneously on the same file.

Therefore, their management needs some unique features like marking the document as a draft, pending to review, reviewed, and finally published.

Trait #5: Production Workflow

Today we are living in cloud era and Internet is ubiquitous on various devices. Therefore my online writing tools should have enough options to import and export documents such as AWS cloud, Dropbox, email, Google documents on Google drive, upload on custom web page, do sanitized copy-and-paste from offline writing tools like MS Word.

No doubt, support to the various file formats is must like text format, word document format, PDF, HTML, etc. so we can export our work easily for different editors.

After describing my expectations I would like to jump on the search results for the online writing tools in the next part so wait for a while…