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Re: SubEthaEdit style networked editing

From: Shug Boabby
Subject: Re: SubEthaEdit style networked editing
Date: 15 Mar 2006 08:54:17 -0800
User-agent: G2/0.2

Mathias asked:
> what are the things you need to edit with other people at the same time?
> I have always wondered, probably because I seldom or never has seen
> the use myself.

Text (technical) documents... primarily short LaTeX reports that I am
rapidly working on with 2 -> 5 other members of my team. We are all
sitting in the same room working on a 5 -> 7 page document and giving
it a heavy edit after getting the core content down.

It is not always plausible (especially during the final editing stages)
to designate a set of paragraphs to individual authors, and using
something like svn/cvs is just not responsive enough... i want to see
their edits *now*... not when i ask to show me updates (which i have to
merge with what i have just done in the last 5 minutes, which gets mega
complicated if we even went near each other).

Collaborative editing of plain text is a very different experience than
with code. With code it is structured and everyone knows which bits
they are working on... and if you both end up committing something to
svn at the same time, merge usually has no problems if you worked on
different functions. But with plain text, you could have two people
editing the same paragraph... you also have vocal (or aim, if remote)
communication and feedback... but it's mostly in the form of nods of
approval or disapproval at what they just did on the screen.

The alternative to collaborative editing would be to have everyone
huddle round the same screen and designate one person to do the edits,
but in practice this is difficult and a lot slower. You might know what
you want to write, but you don't know how it looks until it is written.

I'm really surprised that collaborative editing isn't a bigger deal in
the Free Software Community... you could have hackathons on a single
file to rewrite something. So long as everyone has a good idea what
they are doing up front (i.e. template, specification or badly written
file as a base), it is an incredibly fast way to produce work! No more
waiting a day/hour to hear back before you can go change that

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