We’ve just finished an intense collaborative effort to get a proposal shipped for today. Our main collaborative tool was Writely, a free online word processor/wiki combination.
I’ve been using Writely (now owned by Google) for collaborative document development for about a year. Writely lets you upload or create a document online with most of theÂ features that you would find in any word processor. It also lets you invite other people to collaborate at the same time. If two people make simultaneous changes to the same text, then Writely wiill tell you about the conflict. You can look at everyone’s changes, make comments, add content and view all versions of your document.
I think that Writely is the perfect tool for a distributed team that is writing a proposal. It’s even better with a team in different time zones so that one person can work while others are sleeping.
Here are some suggestions on using Writely, while it’s still fresh in my mind:
- Start your document online with Writely – don’t upload an existing document. This will reduce extra HTML code and weird formatting, especially from uploaded MS Word documents.
- Use the online version to develop the main text of the document and don’t worry about making it look pretty.
- Avoid tables in the document, but if you need them, create them in Writely.
- Use Writely to get consensus on the words and the flow of the proposal.
- Once you have agreement on the content, save the document as an RTF, Word or OpenOffice document. I find that OpenOffice produces the cleanest document.
- On your desktop application, start adding graphics, headers & footers, headings & titles, etc.
- If you are using OfficeOffice, you can finish by clicking on “Export as PDF” and your document will be ready to print and/or send.