Etherpad – Open Source Collaborative Online Editor

Etherpad is a powerful real-time open source collaborative online editor made from Google Wave, the deserted and decommissioned “e-mail replacement” working in real-time that Google initiated and then soon ended. Etherpad is a document editing application that works in real-time and in collaboration. The users are presented with a blank canvas where they can collaborate with their friends online and let their creativity flow.

Its way similar to Google Docs, apart from the changes which are usually shown way too fast, and the changes that are being made by everyone can be seen and even replayed kind of like how a VCR works. The best part about this is that it’s yours! Which is better than working with Google’s ephermal cloud as Etherpad is hosted on your own personal server and you have access to it whenever you want (assuming you have access to your server all the time.

Why would I even want this?

Etherpad has been used in countless offices, schools, colleges, universities and even writing communities for collaborative writing and the results that have been received are amazing. Need to team up on a word project? You don’t have to be sitting right next to each other for that! It’s really easy to contact a coworker or a close friend or anyone you want for that matter, create a new “pad,” paste a document in it and start making changes in real-time as you talk through the project. With the option to rewind and fast-forward any time you want, your work can always be edited the way you want in a lesser amount of time.

Another handy idea is gathering information from a bunch of people in a faster, simpler and smarter way. Looking at it this way, it does feature some functions that you can find in Google Drive applications, the only difference is that this isn’t hosted by Google’s cloud service; it’s hosted on your own server. For someone who uses Google Drive daily at work (People like news editors and gossip blog or magazine writers are great examples who have a necessity of writing), it can sometimes be something very annoying as it occasionally doesn’t change the save the changes you’ve made and tells you to refresh the page when you’re in the middle of something. Now that’s frustrating. Though it still proves to be better than word processors like MS word who still haven’t released any option for collaborating online and editing a word project in real-time even after being the leaders in the market for over 10 to 15 years.

Another good reason to work with Etherpad is that it is handled two to three different kinds of technologies, which include Node.js (it is a Javascript execution engine that works by server side) and Redis (a quick in-memory based NoSQL database). This is pretty fun for people who like to fool around with new technologies and want to know their way around things.

 

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