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Writely Embraces the OpenDocument Movement Claudia
11.21.2005 [ links to this post ] - Permalink

"The Web Word Processor" Now Supports Both Microsoft Word and OpenOffice.org Document Formats

PORTOLA VALLEY, Calif. - November 21, 2005 - Writely (www.writely.com), The Web Word Processor, today released support for OpenDocument Format (ODF), the open standard document format backed by Sun Microsystems, IBM and Adobe. Starting today, Writely users can upload documents into Writely from Microsoft Word and Sun Microsystems' OpenOffice.org, as well as save the documents back into either of those formats. Sun and Google announced last month their intention to explore jointly enhancing and promoting OpenOffice.org...

...this is Jen's first press release on our behalf, and man are we happy to have her! To read the rest, click here.

And now for something completely different... Jen
11.16.2005 [ links to this post ] - Permalink

Desktop search integration with Writely? Yup - the good people at Ask Jeeves Desktop Search added the ability to search Writely docs in their latest beta release. Send us feedback if you have any ideas for other desktop-bound integration with Writely that you'd like to see (I'm thinking things like desktop shortcuts to Writely docs).

International Writely? Absolutely - we have users all over the globe, and we like it that way! Since we are small and so quite resource constrained at the moment, we're trying to figure out a way for our users to help us translate some key pages. Makoto just volunteered to translate our FAQ page into Japanese, so when she's done with that translation we'll link to it from the English FAQ page. If you're interested in helping us translate a Writely page, just email me and I'll make a copy of the page for you to work from.

Italian Writely? Si - Italy's Corriere della Sera recently ran an article mentioning Writely. Here's a rough translation of our mention: "To say it in more explicit terms than Microsoft would use, if you can write a document using a free service like www.writely.com and share it with distant collaborators, will you still need Microsoft Word, Hotmail or Sharepoint (a Microsoft software particularly aimed at cooperative work in a group)?"

Which reminds me that since I'm relatively fluent in Italian, shouldn't I personally step up to translate the FAQ page into Italian? OK, if noone else volunteers by this weekend, I'll suck it up and do the Italian translation! (E credetemi, sarebbe meglio per tutti quanti se io non facessi la traduzione visto che la mia madrelingua non 'e italiano e allora far'o un sacco di errori stupidissimi!)

While I'm on the subject of Italy, one of my public Writely docs is the entire text of Dante Alighieri's Vita Nuova in which Dante meets and falls in love with the beautiful Beatrice. And since this blog has no images, I leave you with an image (filtched from Flickr) of one of my favorite Italian hamlets: San Gimignano.

Revised Revisions Claudia
11.11.2005 [ links to this post ] - Permalink

Just the other day, someone remarked that for folks who make communication tools, we sure don't post a lot to our blog.

It's true, but what can I say? We're really busy!

Speaking of which, we put up some new stuff yesterday:
  • A completely redone Revisions tab.
    You can page through your revisions just like before, but also get a list of all revisions and compare any two. We now display each collaborator's edits in a different background color, and deletions as colored, strike-out text.

  • Revamped Blog tab.
    A cleaner page layout should make it more obvious how to use it. The option to include the title or not is now global, and a link to edit the title has been added.

  • Revamped Publish tab.
    As with the Blog tab, the layout has been simplified, and a Stop Publishing button added.

  • Many bug fixes.
    Including correct timezones for blog posting, a workaround for Blogger's unbalanced tag touchiness, and working page break insertion on FireFox.

  • Miscellaneous enhancements.
    More fonts in the drop-down menu, full paragraph justification and block quotes.

Next up (before American Thanksgiving, on the 24th), we're hoping to release our new, in-progress conversion back-end, which will include support for OpenOffice files, RTF, PDF (export-only), Word Perfect, and more. It will also include a much better Word conversion, thanks to the awesome folks at OpenOffice.org (and Froilan! and Gabor!).

After that, we've got several weeks of tough, meaty work to do, which won't result in a big bullet-list of features, but should greatly improve collaborative editing.

If I haven't mentioned a feature or improvement you've been waiting for, not to worry -- we've got a list about a mile long of things to do after these two releases. Also, we tend to do things iteratively, so that we're constantly improving the site. This means that we'll probably implement at least part of something you've been waiting for before too long. Non-Roman character sets, comments, styles/templates and improved printing are all high-priority for us. And, at some point, we will localize as well, undoubtedly starting with Spanish.

And, last, the big question: when might we start charging for things? That plan hasn't changed. We don't plan to offer premium subscriptions until we come out of beta, which will be early next year -- when our quality is high enough. (Nothing on the site as of this post is considered premium; everything you see is still just basic stuff).

Writely in the News Jen
11.03.2005 [ links to this post ] - Permalink

Writely has been in the news a lot, lately...just today we got a mention in a Business Week article about Microsoft's "Live" software announcement. Judging from the announcement, it doesn't look like Microsoft is going to crush us any time soon ;-}

On another note, did you know that November is the National Novel Writing Month? This is a very cool, grassroots-organized event turned non-profit that is partnered with Room to Read, the international children's literacy program. I only know about it because there are at least a handfull of folks who are using Writely to author their novels...they can log in to write from work, home, a friend's house or even email some creatively inspired prose from their cell phone! OK, maybe that last one won't actually happen, but isn't it cool to know that you could do it if you really wanted to??? Speaking of novels, my brother has written one and just this last week got an agent to help him get published! Yay, Bean :-)))

Last but not least, we sent emails to 1,000 Writely users last week inviting them to fill out a survey to help us make Writely better. These were all folks who had logged into Writely once, but not subsequently and we want to know what we can do to make Writely more compelling or "sticky," as they say in the candy business. The good news is that most folks hadn't logged in again not because they felt that Writely sucked in some way, but because they "haven't had the time, but intend to keep using Writely." In case you're wondering, that's short-hand for "cleaning my toilet is higher on my priority list than using your mildly interesting product." However we are not daunted!! We comb all the feedback we get for great new ideas and we even just started a Writely User Forum to get more tips, tricks and suggestions from our beloved users. Yes, I'm kissing up but it's actually heart-felt.

Oh one other thing...this was my first blog posting EVER! Excuse me as I need to go drink a cool glass of water and breathe deeply now...

The Writely User Forum Claudia
11.02.2005 [ links to this post ] - Permalink

It has only been live a few days, and already we've got some great stories on how people are using Writely.

Some folks have been posting problems they've had, and before we even get to them, other folks have been posting solutions! There is no question about it: we do have the best users in the world!

Come ask them questions (or answer some!) on the Writely User Forum.


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