TextFlow Is Parallel Word Processing Answer to Microsoft Word, Google Docs
Nordic River launches TextFlow, a parallel word processing application for consumers and business users who need to spice up their productivity workflow with collaboration capabilities. TextFlow won't challenge Microsoft Word or Google Docs overnight, but it will fire up the conversation about more interactive editing.
Another company has released another word processing program but before you yawn, pay attention: Nordic River's TextFlow is a parallel word processor.
The productivity application, in open beta now and built on Adobe's AIR platform, lets multiple writers edit the same document at the same time. The app supports .DOC, .DOCX and .RTF document formats.
To grasp the value of this, understand what current word processing collaboration is like. Typically, you might create a document in a serial word processing app such as Microsoft Word or Google Doc and e-mail it to colleagues later to let them make suggestions or changes.
When the sharing and edits are done, you could have several documents with new wording and feedback, or basically multiple documents created from the original one. These changes must then be rendered in several windows, which is even more time consuming for the person who has to put the final document together.
TextFlow tracks and merges suggestions from multiple writers at once to make word processing more of a collaborative task than a walled off one. Users can take those multiple documents, drag and drop them into the TextFlow user interface and see the feedback and suggestions in one window, where users can compare, accept or reject suggested changes.
Such functionality is another hallmark of modern Web applications, where individuals and business users can pool work via the Web instead of doing some work in a vacuum and sharing it later. TextFlow is word processing done in the vein of a wiki for more collaborative editing.
TextFlow won't capture loads of share from Microsoft, Google, Zoho or other providers overnight, but it should at least propel the conversation toward the future of collaborative word processing.
Indeed, TextFlow has some holes in what it can handle. Currently TextFlow does not support images and tables so the app gets a "clearer view of each version of the text," according to the FAQ on TextFlow. Future versions of TextFlow will include images and tables.
TextFlow is available now as a free download, but will cost money upon general availability in 2009. While the app currently works locally on users' computers and doesn't store data on the company's server, the final release will allow users to host their documents on Nordic River's server and maintain an archive of each document.
Because TextFlow is based on Adobe AIR platform, it runs on any operating system supported by AIR, which includes Windows XP, Vista and Mac OS X 10.4 (or later). No Linux support as of yet, as AIR is running in beta on the open source operating system.
Here are other things you should know. TextFlow uses a server to perform document analysis, so users must be online to be able to compare multiple documents or import Word documents. However, TextFlow does not need to be online if you only wish to work with an active session, according to Nordic River.