Remote Writer is now released to the world.
“What is Remote Writer?” I hear you say. Remote Writer is a browser-based word processor offering users the following features, amongst others:
- The ability to create XHTML content using an intuitive WYSIWYG interface
- The ability to collaborate on documents with other authors
- The ability to work on documents from different computers in different locations
- Persistence of documents both on the client and on the server
- The ability to work with documents while either online or offline
- The ability to use customised block-level and inline styles
- The ability to compare the changes between two different revisions of a given document
- The ability to revert to a previously-saved version of a document
- Administration functions to allow for creation and maintenance of author accounts
- Secure access to documents, and the ability to encrypt content during transfer between server and client
- An implementation that is based on standard and freely-available web technologies.
If you’d been reading the above list closely, you might have found the fifth point intriguing. Remote Writer makes use of Google Gears to provide offline creation and maintenance of documents. You can take your laptop to the beach or on an airplane, and still be able to work on your documents using your web browser.
Is this a new thing? Well, so far, you can use a browser-based word processor online (such as Google Docs) and the folks at Zoho Writer have even integrated Google Gears with their product to allow you to work both online and offline with your documents. However, as far as I know, Remote Writer is the first open-source browser-based word processor with online / offline functionality.
Why is this important? Well, a significant short-coming of Google Docs, marvelous as it is, is that you cannot define your own custom styles. You may have a need to create content where you want to style or indicate the semantic importance of certain bits of text, and of course your requirements could be very different to the requirements of other people.
With Remote Writer, you can define your own inline and block-level styles (and the CSS to render these styles), and then see the results graphically as you edit your documents.
The genesis of Remote Writer was a need to allow non-technical users (i.e. those who are not comfortable with markup languages like TEI XML) a means of creating content using a WYSIWYG editor, but where they could style certain parts of their documents to indicate semantic information such as the names of people mentioned in the document. A related need was the ability to then take this content and add further markup to it (such as authority key information for the people mentioned in the document), and then allow the user to continue editing the document. Therefore, collaboration is an important feature of Remote Writer.
For more information on what Remote Writer can do, and how to install and use it, please see the help page.