8

My question is similar to this one, but with (hopefully) a clearly defined use case: sharing and reviewing basic tech docs with a minimal, intuitive GUI.

I'm producing technical documents using MS Word. These docs need to be reviewed, commented and have minimal additions & changes to their content, e.g. text, headings, tables.

I want to both 1. Track the changes 2. Accept/reject per change

In between focussing on getting the content right, a lot of issues come up (too many to list) around formatting, versioning, application compatibility etc.

It would be great if I could sidestep these and just

  1. maintain a single source in Markdown while
  2. providing a WYSIWYG "user interface" that only allows minimal interactions, i.e.:
    • changing/adding/deleting text/numbers/tables
    • commenting particular areas of text

In order to allow "users" to do these things without being in the Markdown workflow behind the scences, ideally this would be a Web-based editor with change tracking that outputs [some flavour of] Markdown.

Anyone know of such a thing? Or something that fits my requirements [explicit or as yet unconscious ;) ] even better?

UPDATE:

pt. 1

This (hallo.js) is very close to what I'm talking about, I just need more headings (H3 etc.), commenting, visible change tracking, and simple tables in addition.

pt 2.

This (ice) is the sort of change tracking in mind.

  • Why doesn't Ice fit the bill? – Charles Stewart Mar 10 '16 at 15:16
  • Thanks for the insightful question @CharlesStewart - the simple answer would be it doesn't appear to have a back end where you can manage the source files in a minimal way too. – Michael Mar 10 '16 at 15:45
4

As of 2017, Authorea might be the way to go. It has all the suggested features, and in contrast to the other answers, it is finally an editor that actually supports collaborative commenting.

As a plus, authors can choose whether they want to write their paragraphs in Markdown, LaTeX, HTML, or RichText.

Authorea promo picture

3

Ideally, the reviewers don’t get to do any editing, no matter what the workflow. Even if they just want to see a small change like uppercasing a word, it is better if they just put in a comment and you make the changes. Or not, if you have a reason to reject the proposed change. That way you can maintain strict control of your master document. Again, no matter what the workflow, but especially with Markdown, where your manuscript is a letter-perfect source code for building published HTML or RTF or PDF.

So your workflow could be:

  1. write document in Markdown
  2. convert Markdown to RTF for Microsoft Word or PDF for Acrobat
  3. distribute Word or PDF document to reviewers who only modify the document with comments
  4. receive reviewed Word or PDF document
  5. review each comment in turn and apply changes to original Markdown document
  6. if another review round is needed, go to step 2
  7. convert finished Markdown to HTML for publishing

Generally speaking, editing privileges are for co-writers or editors to make extensive changes, but minor changes should just be made as comments. If they have additional content like a table or photo, they can just put a comment “table X goes here” and send you the table in an Excel document or wherever they made it. So you don’t necessarily need a complicated workflow.

  • Thank you for the detailed answer. I appreciate the thought that went into it, but my question assumes the workflow and asks for a specific solution. – Michael Mar 10 '16 at 20:24
2

Etherpad.

It has

  • Commenting PLUS change proposals PLUS attribution
  • Output as plaintext (even better than Markdown for the workflow)
  • Collaboration in realtime with color coding
  • Minimal WYSIWYG
  • A local installation for security
1

Draft seems to satisfy your requirements. The versioning process is done by drafting (hence the name) but it's almost the same thing.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.