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Re: [O] collaborating between org-mode and MS Word users

From: Eric Schulte
Subject: Re: [O] collaborating between org-mode and MS Word users
Date: Thu, 27 Dec 2012 08:09:53 -0700
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.3.50 (gnu/linux)

"Julian Burgos" <address@hidden> writes:

> Dear list,
> I use org-mode to draft papers and reports, using embedded R code and
> LaTex snippets.  It is a fantastic tool.  But sometimes I have to
> collaborate with less enlighted colleagues who use MS Word.  For now I am
> exporting my document to odt, and from there to MS word.  Then, when I get
> the manuscript back with comments and edits (usually using the “track
> changes” option), I transcribe them to a new new node in my org-mode
> document.  This is usually a slow and error-prone process that involves
> cutting and pasting text from the edited MS word document back into the
> org-mode document, trying to avoid pasting over the LaTex and R snippets. 
> When I am done, I end up with a structure that looks something like this.
> #+TITLE:  My manuscript
> * Version 1
> ** Introduction
> ** Methods .....
> * Version 2
> ** Introduction
> ** Methods
> ..etc.
> Of course, I could easily keep each version in a separate org mode file.
> I would like to get some suggestions or tips on how to improve this
> workflow.  For example:
> - Is there a better way to have a non-org mode use to edit/correct a
> org-mode document and then bring back the corrections to an org-mode
> document?

Currently Org-mode exports to many different formats (html, latex, odt,
etc...), but I do not know of any backend which may be imported into
Org-mode.  I believe that the ODT method you are currently using may be
your best option.

> - What is the best way to compare org-mode nodes/branches (like in the
> above example the Version 1 and Version 2 nodes?).

I would recommend either

1. If you are familiar with git, it would be an ideal way to track
   different versions of your document.  It would allow you to keep all
   past versions without cluttering your directories, and to easily view
   (checkout) older versions and view diffs between versions.  Git has
   the added benefit of providing the ability to tag specific versions
   with semantically meaningful names.  The downside of git is the
   extremely slow learning curve, meaning each of the above actions will
   take some possibly large amount of time to master.

2. If not git (or some comparable version control system), then I'd
   suggest using separate files, as that way you can easily view diffs
   between different versions.  There has been a diff tool generated
   specifically for Org-mode documents [1].  It is able to do things
   like notice when two subtrees have been swapped.

> Can I use ediff within an org-mode file?

Not that I know of, but it may not be difficult to write elisp functions
to write seperate subtrees to different files and then run ediff on
those files.

> Or should I keep separate versions on separate documents?

This is what I would recommend, as most diff tools expect separate files
(either separate on the file system, or separate versions in a version
control system).

> All recommendations will be welcomed!

Hope this helps,

> Julian


Eric Schulte

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