It should be no secret that the Medialoper team loves words. We’re crazy about tools that help us organize and clarify our thoughts. We’re suckers for outliners, and we really adore a good text editor. And while we use TextMate every single day, sometimes we want to work more closely with other members of the team. Collaboration is a good thing. That’s why we like SubEthaEdit so much.
What is this SubEthaEdit we speak of, and how can it be so great if you’ve never heard of it? So glad you asked. It’s a collaborative writing environment that allows multiple authors to work simultaneously on the same text file. It’s sort of like chat mode for writers.
You may have noticed the use of the word “we”. That’s because Kassia and Kirk are collaborating on this story, or, rather, Kirk and Kassia are co-writing this story. Jim is out this week, and, conveniently, it’s his turn to write “That’s What I Like”. He asked us to fill in for him – probably for the last time (Jim, this is why they invented pre-posting).
Even if Jim were here, he couldn’t participate with us. SubEthaEdit only runs on Mac, and there’s nothing even remotely similar for Windows (trust us, we’ve looked). We’re not Mac zealots by any means (okay, that’s a lie), but the Mac environment offers a lot of cool tools designed to enhance the creative process; if you’re on the switching edge and have the soul of an artist, remember that.
Right about now Windows users are probably grumbling, we know. What sort of collaborative environment doesn’t support Windows? SubEthaEdit gets its power from Bonjour (nee Rendezvous) which is Apple’s brand name for Zero Configuration Networking (which you don’t have to know about to use). Microsoft is building support for the protocol into the next version of Windows – which should be out any year now. If Windows users wait long enough, they might be able to join the party. In the meantime, you’ll have to borrow a Mac.
If you have a Mac and have enabled Bonjour, you can join the SubEthaEdit party, provided you’ve been invited to play along. SubEthaEdit has the necessary security to keep the riff-raff out of your document. Author contributions are color coded so you know who to blame when someone finds a typo (actually, we always know who to blame).
It’s great for brainstorming. You can get a lot of ideas down very quickly. We like to bounce around, adding a thought here, expanding an idea there. One might be getting all technical on one point while the other is listing every thought that comes into her mind, hoping it will either make sense later or someone else will figure out what’s going on.
SubEthaEdit creates a different kind of writing energy. Writing is generally a solitary endeavor — with good reason — but brainstorming is often more successful when ideas are shared and expanded. Granted, final edits should be done in a less collaborative environment. There’s a time for change, and the last draft ain’t it (unless we’re writing for Medialoper).
Sure, collaborative writing can be both incredibly fun and sometimes maddening, especially when someone begins to edit a block of text that you’re about to work on or changes something you got JUST RIGHT (oops, we just changed something we wrote). That’s collaboration.
If you’re the sort of person who likes to write and you have a Mac — and at least one friend — give SubEthaEdit a try. One of the other great things about SubEthaEdit is that it’s free for personal use. Remember, two writers are faster than one.