Collaborative editing is one of those features that I never knew I wanted but loved the minute I understood its power. I’m a huge fan of Google Docs and the way it lets me and my colleagues work together on a document, editing in real time.
Collaborative editing is a powerful tool for learning, teaching, writing, and combining the expertise of different contributors. But, for all its benefits, Google Docs isn’t perfect, and I’ve often wished that I could collaborate within WordPress in the same way I can within a Google document.
WordPress has built-in collaboration features, but they don’t work in real time. Different people can contribute to the same document, but until the work is saved, those changes aren’t reflected in the workspace of other users. Rather than real-time editing, WordPress offers “turn-based” editing. That fits with common editorial workflows, where each piece passes from writer to editor and perhaps back again. But it’s not suitable for concurrent editing.
Wave from Codox brings the benefits of Google Docs-like collaborative editing to WordPress. Wave isn’t a WordPress-specific tool: it’s an app for Google Chrome and the family of browsers that can use Chrome apps, but it works well in the WordPress editing interface.
Wave’s basic features will be familiar to anyone who has used Google Docs. Several contributors can work on a document and the changes each makes are reflected in the interface of the others.
When mentoring or editing writers in WordPress, I’ve often had to send long emails full of quotes and corrections. I could make the changes myself in the WordPress post, but if the goal is to teach it’s necessary to talk through what I’m changing and why. Email is far from ideal, but the combination of a collaborative editing tool like Wave and a Skype or Google Hangouts call is vastly superior.
Once you have installed Wave’s Chrome app, you’ll have to create an account or sign in using a Google account. To start a collaborative editing session, create a new WordPress post or open an existing post, click on the Wave icon that hovers in the browser window, and enter the email addresses of your collaborators.
Invitees receive an email with a link. When they click on the link they’re taken to the WordPress post and can begin editing. It’s a simple process that even the least technical writers and editors won’t have a problem with.
In the future, I’d love to have this functionality integrated directly into WordPress as a plugin or core feature. Although Chrome is the most popular browser, it’s not the only browser and I’d rather not have to insist that everyone who wants to collaborate installs a browser they wouldn’t ordinarily use.
Wave is a tool I can happily recommend to any WordPress user who finds WordPress’s current collaboration features limiting.