Wordprocessors have been around since the dawn of civilization, well OK since the early computing days, but they’ve always come with a specific format. A blank page and a range of editing tools. Even modern WP engines like Google Docs’ Writer follow the convention.
Now along comes Draft which combines a fully interactive online word processing engine with some really clever and quite powerful tools to share, annotate and publish. The result is a wordsmith’s tool which goes way beyond you’d expect from something like this, and in fact turns wordprocessing into more of a full blown interactive application.
As you can see from the screenshots the text editing part of the tool is pretty basic. You don’t get any fancy WYSIWYG here matey, it’s all about getting the words down on the page and that’s it. There’s barely any layout functionality included, images are dropped into position with no alignment or formatting options, and you can forget about anything more fancy than than Bold, Italic and inserting a link.
But all that stuff is incidental, because what other wordprocessor gives you an Ask a Pro funtion, which you can trigger to get professional advice from a proper writer while you’re editing? Exactly. The service is available at the touch of a button, and costs $5 for a 15 minute review of your document and $15 for 45 minutes. Instant writing credibility. Amazing.
And that’s not all. As well as being able to import documents from online sources such as Dropbox or your computer etc, you can also export out to various cloud storage services, or save to your disk as you wish. And as the final icing on the cake, the system allows you to publish directly to your service of choice, be it WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, MailChimp or even LinkedIn. Now that’s what we call integration.
The collaboration part of the tool is fairly standard. Just send your collaborators a link to the document and they’ll all be able to add their changes in real time as you’re editing. The clever thing is there’s a really robust edit/changes interface which is color coded and makes it easy to manage changes between contributors, so there’s no confusion.
So, will this way of doing things take over the world? Probably not, but what sophisticated collaboration does is to encourage more people to try their hand at writing, which in turn means a distinct possibility of improved results all round, which is A Good Thing. For now we’re just going to say, an Ask A Pro feature? For real? Awesome.
Oh and by the way, I’ve just written this whole post in Draft, and I’m now going to see if it publishes directly to The Ferret by pressing the Publish button. Wish me luck. Here goes…3…2…1…
[Update: OK two or three post publishing tweaks needed. First…had to set Featured Image, second…insert More tag to split main body from front page and finally, the images have not appeared in the WordPress media library, so I needed to upload a new image for Featured. But apart from that, it worked really well. Could do with some more image editing functions though.]