I find collaborative writing hard — too much of a control freak, I guess — which means it’s probably a really good thing I didn’t go into practice, where the art of collaborative writing is an important skill. When I must marry your words with mine — and hers and his — I find the commenting features of Word essential but confusing at times. Now TextFlow offers a new way to display, compare and accommodate the variety of edits that can result when you all give me feedback on my draft. TextFlow is an application built on Adobe’s AIR platform and runs locally on your machine; but it also communicates with the TextFlow server, where documents are (also) stored and where the computational magic takes place that eases the business of collaboration. Collaborators need not have the application installed on their machines, and are able to accept invitations to collaborate and do the editing within their browsers.

Not (yet?) a word processor, TextFlow accepts RTF, DOC and XDOC files by drag-and-drop, and outputs corrected documents into DOC format. The true beauty of this app is its ability to present you with up to seven collaborators’ edits at the same time in a way that is clear and efficient. Take a look at the short video demonstrating this signal feature (narrated by a person who is a cross between the ING Dutch guy and the “Mac” in the Apple commercials); the unreproducible Javascript link to the Flash movie is prominent on the main page.


  1. Very cool!! :)

    We have have been experimenting with Office Live Workspace[1] and Office 2007 with “Revision Balloons” enabled. It produces similar output to TextFlow but as sexy :)

    1. http://workspace.office.live.com