Sunday, March 17, 2013

Web Collaboration

Recently one of my friends posted on Facebook:
Just as an FYI ... you can use Office Web Apps within the browser when logged in using your Microsoft ID. I use it to collaborate on true Office documents all the time - even machines that don't have Office installed. It's everywhere I might need it.
We have an ongoing discussion in our work group over whether to use Microsoft Office documents or Google Docs.

Maybe this was a godsend.

To test this I uploaded a .docx file to my Skydrive and edited it with Word Web App. I shared it with a co-worker. We were both able to get into edit mode on this document and the Word Web App told us that there were 2 concurrent editors.

But my co-worker couldn't see my changes until I saved it. Then since he had changed the same paragraph when he attempted to save it the save failed.


Here's the answer in an article from CBS News.
Co-authoring in Word is more or less the same as editing in Google Docs, but there are some key distinctions. Getting started is just as simple: Open the doc and start working. Word keeps you informed about who is also working on the document, and you can also check the Other Authors button in the ribbon's View tab to see who else is in the metaphorical editing room with you. Whatever paragraph you're actively working in is locked, so others can't accidentally create conflicts with what you're doing. 
One way that Word is different than Google Docs is seeing your co-author's edits. Rather than having their changes appear instantly (which I do find a bit disorienting), our co-author's changes are only incorporated into your document when he saves his work and then you save yours. When your co-author saves, you get a message telling you that you can save to see the latest updates, so you're never left wondering if there are new updates available.
Here's an article from Redmondmag with the same explanation.
The new document collaboration interface will indicate if someone is working on a document by popping up a screen note. It also marks the section that's being altered. Microsoft calls this approach "coauthoring," but it's not a real-time approach. Users can identify who is modifying which section of a document, but a refresh is required to actually show what was changed. 
If a user edits a document and saves the changes, all of the changes -- including those made by other collaborators -- will be shown at that time. The changes are highlighted in a green screen text.
Close but no cigar.

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