Draft is a small and simple co-editor

Draft is a small and simple co-editing application that is based on markdown text editing and that incorporates a very cool side-by-side comparison of different drafts of documents shared among editors. The tool also supports publishing of the documents to various blogging solutions, including WordPress (see disclosure), Tumblr, and others. It’s quick to learn, and it’s easy on the eyes.

Here’s the editing interface with comments from two participants:

draft 7 comments

I just wish the tool allowed comments to be linked to a particular section of the text. The last comment was associated with submitting some edits to a draft.

Update — 12 August 2013: Discovered that comments are context aware after all. Here I selected the word “snippet” before creating a comment, and this is the result:

draft context aware comments

 

The bottom most comment has the selected text as a quote, and if you mouse over it in the comments column the linked text is highlighted.

Here’s the side-by-side comparison of edits from two users:

draft 6 s-b-s

The text is formatted in markdown — a simple formatting language invented by John Gruber — which is easy to learn. For example, asterisks denote that the text should be emphasized.

Here’s the set of commands available:

draft 2

The preview of a document renders it, and to the right in the display below you can see other controls, like a folder hierarchy (this doc is stored in “stories”) and the ability to export and publish the doc. It’s possible to export as text or as HTML, and publishing options include WordPress, Tumblr, Twitter,  Blogger, LinkedIn, Mailchimp, Buffer, and WebHook URL.

draft 8 preview

I set up publishing to Tumblr, and it worked as advertised.

UI options are fairly limited but practical:

draft 9 ui

 

My first impression is that the editor works well, and aside from the quibble I have about not being able to associate a comment with a specific chunk of text, I think it’s a great tool. Perhaps it might be improved slightly by mapping Draft folders to Dropbox and/or other file-sync-and-share tools, so that people could use other markdown or text editors when not explicitly co-editing.

I intend to try Draft on a new report I am working on, to get a sense of how it might work in a production setting.

(Disclosure: Automattic, the maker of WordPress, is backed by True, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of GigaOM. Om Malik, the founder of GigaOM, is also a venture partner at True.)

 

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Stowe Boyd

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