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This article is from:

All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License: 

Collaborative editor

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

(Redirected from Collaborative real-time editor)

A collaborative editor is a software application that allows several people to edit a computer file using different computers. There are two types of collaborative editors, real-time and non-real-time. Real-time collaborative editors allow users to edit the same file at anytime, including editing at the same time. Non-real-time collaborative editors do not allow editing of the same file at the same time. Non-real-time collaborative editors are similar to revision control systems.

This field is closely related to distributed computing.


The first application to gain mainstream attention was SubEthaEdit. This is Mac-based, and leverages the Mac Bonjour communications platform. SubEthaEdit won numerous awards. However, the level of voluntary donations was insufficient to keep the application free, and the product has now become commercial. The Gobby collaborative editor aims to be very similar to SubEthaEdit, and is cross platform and open source.

The Web 2.0 phenomenon has caused an explosion of interest in browser-based document editing tools. In particular, a product called Writely saw explosive user growth and was bought by Google in March 2006 (now called Google Docs & Spreadsheets). It provides simultaneous edits on the entirety of a document, though changes from other users are only reflected after polling the server (every half a minute or so). Another early web-based solution was JotSpotLive, in which line-by-line simultaneous editing was available in near-realtime. However, after Google's purchase of parent company JotSpot in November 2006, the site was closed and no comperable Google product has been introduced. The Synchroedit (rich text) and MobWrite (plain text) projects have since emerged as two open-source attempts to fill the in gap real-time browser-based collaborative editing.

The availability of Java on most computers in the form of Java applets, combined with the growing availability and speed of broadband internet access, has enabled a more powerful range of collaborative editing tools, including web applications which enable collaborative video editing.

Future marketplace direction

The current approach of Microsoft and IBM has been to bolt limited collaboration facilities on to their existing architectures [1] Although marketed as real-time collaboration, these 'workspace' approaches require either document locking (so only one person can edit it at a time), or 'reconciliation' of conflicting changes, which is generally found by users to be unsatisfactory.

Another approach is 'application sharing'. This is a form of remote PC access. However, in this approach, only one user at a time can 'drive' the application, while other users observe the editing.

With advances in internet capacity, collaborative editing is now being applied to video. In collaborative TV productions in particular, the director, producer, loggers and editors, who all contribute to the video post-production process, can be physically separated. Modern web-based non-linear editing systems allow collaborative editing of video, similar to the way in which collaborative text editors have worked for text. See Comparison of video editing software and Real-time video editing.

List of current editors

Software that was designed for collaborative real-time editing of text
  • AutoVue "AutoVue is a collaborative visualization that allows multiple users to instantly view, markup and collaborate on native documents including 2D/3D CAD, EDA, images and Office documents.
  • ICT is a framework that allows multiple users to edit a shared document with unmodified, heterogeneous single-user editors.
  • CoWord (Microsoft Windows) converts Microsoft Word into a real-time collaborative word processor and allows multiple users to collaboratively edit the same Word document at the same time.
  • SubEthaEdit (Mac OS X).
  • ACE (Linux, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X) is a free and easy-to-use collaborative text editor. Installation on linux is not easy.
  • Gobby (Linux, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X) is a free software, open source project. It is cross-platform (though Mac version requires X11 and is not trivial to get working, yet easier via DarwinPorts - v.0.4.1 as of 4Feb2007). First released in June 2005.
  • MoonEdit (Linux, Microsoft Windows, FreeBSD) is free for non-commercial use. It allows basic collaborative editing.
  • Groove Networks contains a collaborative editing module.
  • DocSynch "DocSynch is a collaborative editing system on top of IRC. By transforming single-user editors into multi-user editors, it allows to remotely edit text documents together. Implementations are targeted as extensions to many popular text editors and IDEs. A working version is available for jEdit."
Web browser based collaborative real-time editing of documents
  • EditGrid online spreadsheet supports RTU (Real-Time Update), a technique for real-time event-driven collaborative editing of spreadsheets on the web, since Public Beta 14. Users are notified of modifications by a remote editor by red flashing cells.
  • Google Docs & Spreadsheets is a real time web based spreadsheet application and rich text editor. Cell contents are not shared real time, but updated as focus leaves the cell (clobbering is possible)
  • MobWrite is a web-based open-source multi-user real-time plain-text editor.
  • SynchroEdit works for Firefox 1.0-2.0 (and other Mozilla-class browsers such as Camino and Flock). It supports rich-text documents. SynchroEdit relies on W3C DOM Event change extensions which IE and other browsers do not yet support. Open-source (MPL and GPL). Java server-side and JavaScript client. The protocol is open and documented in the SynchroEdit Development Wiki. A proof-of-concept version of SynchroEdit demonstrating integration with MediaWiki is available as patches, but is intended to eventually be a plugin or extension to MediaWiki proper.
  • - free online collaboration platform for creating and publishing content.
Other software that allows collaborative real-time editing
  • FORscene is a collaborative Internet video platform - logging and publishing is real time, editing and publishing is on demand.
  • GNU Emacs provides basic collaborative editing support under the X Window System, using the "make-frame-on-display" command.
  • GNU Screen allows multiple users to share one console screen, but they have to share a single cursor.
  • Marratech is commercial software with a whiteboard function.
  • Inkscape vector drawing program allows users to edit shared documents over the network.
  • TalkAndWrite - TalkAndWrite is a freeware whiteboard fast and simple powered by Skype. A Realtime collaboration tool.
  • CodeWright is rich featured programmer's editor from Borland. Its built-in CodeMeeting plugin allows each file to be edited by one person at time. Others can watch cursor actions. Chat is also provided. Project is given up.
  • uSeeToo is one of the first text, graphics and photos editors to use Skype for P2P infrastructure. uSeeToo is developed in Java for easy extensibility: "boards" supporting various functionalities can be plugged into the framework. Specific support for eLearning can be added, as well as animation, games, etc. Currently, the primary function is collaborative content creation and remote explanation of ideas through interactive graphics.
Software that is collaborative but not real-time
  • e (Microsoft Windows) is a collaborative editor which is not real-time but works as a live revision control system.
  • Writeboard is just web based version control, not real-time at all.
  • Zoho Writer is a web-browser-based collaborative editor currently in beta phase. However Zoho Writer relies on polling (every 8 seconds) [2]
  • allows creation and sharing of online documents, but not real-time collaborative editing.

External links

  • Meta Collab is a free collaborative encyclopedia on collaboration. It contains Collaborative real-time editor, a clone of this page.
  • community-wiki: collaborative editor is a node page to coordinate the development of collaborative editors.
  • is a free web document editor for collaborative editors. It has windows explorer like navigation to organize folders and documents. Also, it has microsoft word like features.


  1. ^ Microsoft Live Communications Marketed as real time but not real time in the sense of this article.
  2. ^ Zdnet comments uses this wikipedia page as a source - admission from Zoho that actually its not real time is in Update 2 at bottom
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