Agilewords: Online Document Collaboration

Writing documents can be a lot of work. From writing papers in school to reports for work it takes a long time to make sure it’s correct. If you’re writing a document with more than one author or reviewer it’s even more cumbersome. Many times I’ve sent a Word doc to someone and told them to turn change tracking on before making changes. And then they send it back and I can accept or reject those changes. Back and forth the doc will go until all parties are in agreement.

We live in an internet age where web applications pop up all the time to solve various problems. Mailing a document back and forth to view changes is clearly an issue that needs to be fixed. Offering the first complete solution to this is a new online document collaboration tool, Agilewords.

Agilewords

Agilewords is a web application where you can upload a Word doc, invite collaborators to have access to it, each of whom can make inline comments until all parties are in agreement.

The concept behind Agilewords is straightforward but there are a number of details in the implementation that make it stand out.

  • Collaborators can have either reviewer or author access. Reviewers can add comments, authors can also update the actual text.
  • By default the comments appear inline but they can be minimized to the right column. This aides with readability and relegate resolved issues to the background.
  • Comments can be edited by the original owner and anybody can reply to them. This way you can have an inline discussion within your document.
  • The left hand column contains an edit log of who made what changes and when. By clicking on them it brings up that specific change.
  • The left hand column has a second view, which is a page selector. This is useful for multipage documents. It designates whether comments or changes have been made to a particular page so you know which page to review.
  • The documents are organized into workspaces. So let’s say you have multiple clients, each with multiple documents. You can create a workspace for each client and put the respective docs in them.
  • The documents can be assigned a review schedule so everybody knows the deadline for final revisions.
  • My personal favorite is that the document can be downloaded, changes can be made, and then it can be uploaded. Once uploaded these changes will be reflected in the document in the same fashion as they were if they were done online. This makes it quite easy to work offline if the need arises. Also, the version of the document that’s downloaded reflects all the changes with Word’s change tracking feature. This makes it easy and familiar to use.
  • When changes are made notifications are sent out to all parties. These settings can be adjusted within your profile. The options are to be updated every time someone makes a change, or to receive a daily summary report while your document is being reviewed. By default both are selected.
  • Currently Agilewords is free. At some point it will have different tiers of access to accommodate more collaborators.

Agilewords editing screen

Agilewords provides a dashboard where you can view all the workspaces and their respective documents. Here you can make adjustments to the collaborators, update your account, and view the latest messages.  The messages tab contains a change history of all the documents. It can be filtered by workspace or specific documents as well.

Although Agilewords is easy to use they’ve also provided a series of video tutorials. Each is designed to address bite sized topics and run 30-60 seconds. Topics range from how to post feedback to how to edit a document. As an aside, to edit a document just right click on it and select the edit button. Agilewords isn’t trying to imitate Google Docs, but it does provide basic editing capabilities. Once changes are made a pencil icon appears documenting the change. By viewing the edit it will show you what it was changed to, and by clicking the compare option it will bring up both versions.

Agilewords is a long needed tool for collaborative document editing.  Having the ability to view online changes as quickly as they’re made will greatly speed up the revision process. Law firms, small teams, or anybody who needs to collaboratively edit a document will find it useful. With Agilewords document editing just got a whole lot easier.