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Collaborative Editing with Google Docs

The Visual Editor in WordPress is great, but often, when we need to do some group-thinking, we turn to Google Docs. Wouldn’t it be great if these two got connected?

Large sites have teams of writers and editors. When these sites are multilingual, they also have translators and proofreaders.

Right now, WordPress has no real tool for collaborative writing. You know, adding comments, discussing issues, showing each-other what we mean and, generally, collaborating.

Google Docs, on the other hand, excels at this. It lets us share documents, allows others to read, edit and make comments (inline with the text), receive email notifications and view what others are doing – all in real-time.

More and more, we start something in Google Docs, work there and paste the result into WordPress.

For multilingual sites, collaborative writing becomes critical. Proofreaders need to receive notifications about new translated documents. They need to access the ones assigned to them, ask questions, make suggestions, edit and agree with the translators.

When they’re done, the corrected document should fly back to WordPress. It must be more than easy – it has to be trivial.

We’re thinking about building all of this functionality for collaborative editing as a WordPress plugin. Would you find it useful? What would you do with it?

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14 Responses to “Collaborative Editing With Google Docs”

  1. Isn’t this already covered by Boone Gorges’ excellent BuddyPress Docs plugin?

    But yeah, any advancement on this front would be outstanding, though I’d rather not see the wheel reinvented. It might even be possible to move the plugin away from being BP-specific. Certainly worth an inquiry.

  2. I think it would be great. We work mostly on Google docs and transfering the content to wordpress, being careful that the html code remains clain, is too much pain. Go for it!

    • Right. Maintaining the HTML is the little punch of this proposed work. The idea is to export the text from WordPress. Then, when you import back, you can do DIFF between what you exported and adjust the HTML markup accordingly – at least, in theory.

  3. Hi Amir, I think it is a cool idea, although the chance that I or any of my clients will use it is rather slim. As a matter of fact one of my clients tried Google Docs, left totally not satisfied with it and moved to sth similar of MS.
    But I am sure that there are a gazillion people out there who do use it and will find a good use when the two are integrated.
    Hopefully you will make it into a separate module, so people who don’t need/want it don’t have to install it!

    • You’re 100% right. We’re trying to feel the water here and see how others feel about Google Docs.

      We love it and I know that there are others out there who use Google Docs for collaborative editing. However, if this is just a tiny minority and most others don’t know or don’t like it, adding integration into WPML is not worth the efforts.

      In any case, if we do that, it will be a separate plugin.

  4. Sounds great, but I would tend to agree with Piet. I’m not convinced that non-technical users, especially those who aren’t accustomed to switching back and forth between multiple web apps, would be willing to adopt such a system. Ideally, they would never have to leave the WordPress interface.

    Have you looked at the plugin? It’s not exactly the same, as it doesn’t enable collaborative editing, but it does allow some level of in-text commenting.

  5. I vote yes! I am looking for a WordPress collaborative document editing solution myself right now and would rather not have to involve BuddyPress. Is your plug-in ready yet? 😉

  6. Love the idea! Been fiddling around with Docs and WP plugins trying to find a good arrangement, but it seems like there’s nothing quite right just yet.