Draft is a new service that’s meant to revolutionize the way we collaborate on documents. Since there’s no better way to stress test a new application than by trying it, I reached out to my occasional editor, Jason Rehmus, to work on a collaborative review.
Neither of us has used the service, yet. In fact these are the first sentences I’ve written in it.
Setting up the account was easy. I hit the Try button, entered a username and password, hit New Document and here we are.
Now comes the fun part… I’m going to invite Jason in and see what happens.
Jason here. Michael sent me a link to the document he’d created. All I had to do was click the link, log in to Draft with the username I’d already set up, then click Edit. So simple.
At that point I was looking at the draft Michael had already started. I clicked (tapped since I’m doing this all on my iPad Mini) on the document, placed the cursor where I needed to tweak some things, and made changes. Then I clicked You’re Done Editing and sent the changes to Michael. He’ll be able to view my additions then choose whether or not to merge them.
At this point, I received an email back telling me that changes had been committed. Jason may have been a bit overzealous to commit his changes as I received three messages in the span of minutes (he’s very diligent). This may just be the learning curve, but I can see this getting annoying with regular use and a diligent committer. Once I saw that he was no longer editing, I was able to approve his changes (one-by-one or all-at-once) and correct one of his typos (few things are more pleasing than editing an editor).
The one thing I didn’t think to do was reject one of his changes… Jason, do something stupid so I can reject it… (Note: Rejecting does not seem to be an option, hope to see this in a future update.)
Ok… as you may have noticed, this isn’t in italics and is still me. I ran into my first problems with the service. These could very well be user error, but I’ve been banging on it for a few minutes now trying to figure this out. The first is a relatively minor issue: there doesn’t seem to be a great way to let Jason know that I have more changes ready for him to review. I had to jump into IM to let him know. (Note: Looks like I was wrong here, more on this later.)
There also seems to be issues with what I’m writing now. Even though I can make additional changes to the document, it seems to be treating this text as Jason’s changes rather than my own additions.
It also seems to be struggling to save them. When I approve the changes (which are actually my own additions), it seems to swallow the text. I’ve even tried to use the beautiful looking multi-draft review feature and it seems to be giving me some grief. The text I’ve written is there, but I can’t seem to save it as the main draft.
I’m going to log out and see if that fixes things…
Hmm… it still thinks these are edits and not additional writing. I’m going to save here, invite Jason back. Let’s see what happens.
After Michael let me know he was ready for me to jump back in, Draft displayed a helpful message, updating me on the document’s status:
Now I can continue editing the document, just as I did before. I agree with Michael, though. It would be nice for me to be notified when he’s ready for me to take another look.
Ok, things seem to be back on track now. I was able to accept all of Jason’s edits and things are working as expected again. I also noticed that there is a comment window where we can both leave notes and I can ping Jason. They may want to make this a bit more prominent…
So, what do I think? I’m excited to see where this service goes. Traditionally I work with Jason through a combination of Dropbox and Kaleidoscope. The process works, but it’s clunky as I compare his edits in Kaleidoscope, his notes in a separate document and then work on the actual file in Byword. Draft has the potential to bring this all into one tidy little package.
My bottom line: Draft seems well thought out despite a few rough edges and missing features (remember, this is a new service). At the moment, I’d have no issue doing a single edit using the service. I liked it when I wrote, Jason edited and I approved. I’m a bit reticent to pass things back and forth as I ran into a few of those rough edges, most of which centered around reviewing Jason’s changes after I made additional revisions. Once I get familiar with its quirks, I may feel differently as I really like it when things work well, especially now that I discovered the comment panel… Jason, any parting thoughts? This is what you do for a living after all…
I love it! I do have a pretty smooth workflow for my editing clients, but Draft removes even more friction. Keeping all of our collective work in one place, easily reviewable at any time, is great. By the way, I did all of my writing, editing, and screenshots on my iPad Mini and had no trouble at all!
Now I just need to teach more people the benefits of writing in Markdown!