Sunday, October 2nd, 2005

37signals Writeboard Released

Category: Showcase

The long awaited Writeboard from 37signals has been released.

It is going to get some interesting looks, as people work out the niche.

Some of my high level thoughts after playing with it for a short time to create:

ajaxian writeboard

  • I immediately had expectations that were different from the tool. I was expecting to be able to click on the text and get WYSIWYG editing. I think a lot of people that have been playing with Jotspot Live, Writely and other clones, will be expecting this too. In some ways it is hard to get into Wiki syntax after you have been there.
  • Since it is a collaborative environment, I also expected the “Live” part. Instant alerts when my wife edited my document etc :)
  • However, there are items that I really do like. For me the best feature is the versioning system. They did a great job in allowing you to jump between versions, and compare them. This is very important in the world of collaboration. Kudos there. Also, the small things matter, such as the ubiquity of the information (RSS, Email, Text export).
  • Simplicity: It is a very simple interface, which is only a good thing (until you miss a feature)
  • Ajax?: They use their invented Yellow Fade Effect wisely, and do a nice job with comments.

In conclusion, if version two had WYSIWYG, Live, comments as trees that I can expand/contract etc at my will I would be happy :)


NOTE: Brian Benzinger wrote a thorough review on Writeboard

UPDATE: Document locking has now been added. How about that for a quick addition. Rails anyone? :)

Posted by Dion Almaer at 5:16 pm

3 rating from 6 votes


Comments feed

Thanks for your thoughts.

We don’t believe “live editing” is really all that practical. For some uses, sure, but it’s more of a technology showcase than something really useful for *most* tasks.

As far as WYSIWYG, we’ll consider adding this when it’s ready for prime time. Right now there’s still no Safari support an a big portion of our audience (including us) are Safari users. Once that’s in place we’ll be quick to add some simple WYSIWYG tools.

But in general, Writeboard is a lot more about the text — the words — than the formatting of the text. Get the words right in Writeboard and then pull them into your page layout program if you’re looking for fancy formatting.

Comment by Jason Fried — October 2, 2005

I think it’s actually Safari that isn’t ready for prime time.

Comment by Phli — October 2, 2005

Hi Jason –

Thanks for the comment. I totally hear what you are saying, and as I said, I really like the versioning and the simple interface for collaboration. There is a lot of value there.

I do know that from a psychological standpoint it is hard to go from a nice WYSIWYG tool back to text.

Dojo has a nice rich text widget that does different things depending on the browser, and works in Safari (for IE it uses an ActiveX object for various reasons).

Live editing is an interesting one. I would love to be able to turn this on and off. I was just in a situation where merges from hell happened, and it would have been great to have been aware that someone else was editing the document. Even if you don’t SEE their edits, inline, you could know that “oh, Bob is also working on the doc I should chat” (potentially enabling the chat in the same UI too).

Nice work by you and the team!



Comment by Dion — October 2, 2005

This seems like a step behind where Writely is now.

Comment by Hashim — October 2, 2005

Hey Jason and Dion,

Just to clarify: the Dojo RichText (and Toolbar and composite Editor) widgets do indeed support Safari today and work together to do auto-negotiation of capabilities based on what the browser can actually do. You just declare the widget and it does its thing.

Safari has shipped with minimal WYSIWYG since 1.3.9/2.0. There are some limitations and nasty, sharp corners in there, but we do a decent job of rounding most of them off.

On IE, we do have tentative support for using the ActiveX control, but it’s not the default today. If we ever do make it the default, we will fall back to contentEditable should ActiveX be disabled, but app developers will never have to know about any of that. Which is how it should work.


Comment by Alex Russell — October 3, 2005

Wow. A password protected Wiki. So incredible.

Comment by Ozh — October 3, 2005

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