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EtherPad

Luke Breuer
2009-02-12 08:27 UTC

introduction
EtherPad (EP) is a collaborative real-time editor that is currently in invite-only beta (invites are only required to start documents). It has two very valuable features:
  • infinite undo (I have not tested this extensively)
  • each user's text is colored specially
personal testimony
EtherPad shows much promise. It isn't that great in terms of what collaborative editing will eventually be, but it is enough to demonstrate some very cool functionality.
suggested improvements
  • restore who-edited-what when revisions are restored
  • allow diffing of revisions
gotchas
getting disconnected
Sometimes EP disconnects you and you may lose a bit of work. Whenever I get disconnected, I either copy the whole article, or just what I was working on. I paste that into a text editor and then figure out where to reinsert it into EP.
feature requests
highlight new edits
Would it be reasonable to outline (using css borders) new text written by someone, with a button somewhere (with access key so I can alt-shift-[a-z] it) to clear the outline? It can be hard to track what text has been added since I last looked at the screen. Ability to select particular text and clear the border on it would also be sweet. Then I can have a raging, multi-faceted conversation with someone, not get lost, and have the resulting end product be something useful!
usage tips
Without "highlight new edits" feature requests, it can be a bit tricky to see who added what most recently. It isn't a problem if most content is being appended to the screen, but when content is being injected into multiple spots within the document, one can lose track. I've adopted the convention of prepending new lines with >>>; the other user is responsible for removing those when he has read that section. This only works for two users, but that's what I've dealt with so far.