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Notes on tech

Notes on technology, business, enterpreneurship, economy, markets along with interesting general tidbits.

Editing a Word doc simultaenously

9/27/2005 10:50:00 PM, posted by anand

Seems like a dumb question, but I am asking anyway:

Is there a way in MS-Word to setup a document so that multiple people can edit various sections of it such that it can later be assembled or merged together to form one big honking document? So for example, Developer A and Developer B both want to edit the same "Release Notes.doc" MS-Word document at the same time. Can they do it and then seamlessly merge it back into one document?

I've never seen anyone do it, nor have done it myself. Maybe its hidden somewhere in the gazillion features of MS-Word. Could someone point me how to get this done?

From a developer perspective, it seems that they could achieve this by separating out the metadata of the document from the document data itself. The metadata could contain the presentation part, while the data section contains the actual textual data. If two authors modify the same document, the guy who checks-in the document last does a simple merge operation on the text and his changes merge back in to the checked-in copy of the document.

On a related note, I came across this site called : http://www.jotlive.com/. Here is something that caught my attention:
JotSpot Live allows you, your colleagues or clients to take notes together on the same web page at the same time. Imagine everyone simultaneously typing and editing the same Microsoft Word document and you'll get the idea.
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9/29/2005 8:36 PM, comment by Blogger Manish

I was trying understand/validate the notion of simultaneous typing and editing a document at the same time as outlined by Jotlive:

"Imagine everyone simultaneously typing and editing the same Microsoft Word document and you'll get the idea."

Here is what I did trying to simulate two users located remotely and parallely editing a document.

First, I have two users created - mdjani & manuprasad. Both of them are logged-in in two seperate browser windows.

I go to mdjani's window and paste some 2-page document with multiple paragraphs. I save it from mdjani's window.

Now, I go to manuprasad's window - the document page is displayed and I click on edit and start editing one of the paragraphs.

To simulate a co-edit, I move over to mdjani's window aiming to edit the document. But, it does not allow me to edit, indicating "manuprasad editing".

Now, the moment manuprasad saves his document, it is available to mdjani, but then, that is not simultaneous.

So I doubt if jotlive supports our notion of simultaneous edit. And I would wonder what jotlive's notion of a web-based simultaneous edit would be.

Yes, mdjani and manuprasad, can independantly take notes which are then merged as soon as both of them save it. Then again, that is not what you were trying to look at when we discussed two people simultaneouly reviewing/editing a spec document or a design doc for example.    

9/29/2005 11:38 PM, comment by Blogger Anand

Jotspot's half baked attempt doesnt really qualify as "everyone simultaenously typing and editing the same MS-Word doc".

Upon further thinking, it seems like a non-trivial effort to keep track of who edited what in a simultaenous multi-edit to a doc, specially when both users are trying to modify the same sentence (or word) at once.    

10/08/2005 10:41 AM, comment by Anonymous Anonymous


Microsoft Word 2002 does not support simultaneous editing.

That was a feature I was looking for while working on a work related project.

The project was completed in Microsoft Excel 2002 as the program supports simultaneous editing.

Multiple users can edit an Excel document all at the exact same time.

Have a great day!!    

10/08/2005 11:52 AM, comment by Blogger Anand

Manish sent me instructions on what support Word has for co-editing doc:

Microsoft Office Online when used in conjunction with SharePoint services provides
collaboration - co-editing being just one of them. This is the quickest something
I could find - http://www.microsoft.com/office/word/prodinfo/tour/communicate.mspx.
See Sharepoint and Office for detailed information on collaboration.

To your "diff" question from our previous conversation:

If you have Word 2003, simply click on Help and type "Compare". From the list of
alternatives, select "Compare documents with the Legal blackline option". That does
it. Let me know if you have trouble finding it.

This feature is available in the previous Word version as well, but the navigation
is a little different.

Regarding comment from "anonymous", do you mean that two users have to open the same excel spreadsheet or could they work of a copy of the spreadsheet and merge it back later?    

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