• Authoring Platforms

last modified September 19, 2016 by strypey

Before we even start putting a prototype together, we want to have a clear idea of what tools are already out there for online collaborative authoring of documents. Although we will definitely build a website (working name ' PolicyHub ') for use by people in Aotearoa wanting to develop public policy cooperatively, we may not need to create a new GITocracy software system if any of these tools provide the sort of user-friendly interface we want, using only free code. Even if they don't, we may be able to re-use or fork some of the free code created by these projects, and build the missing bits ourselves as the GITocracy project.

At this point, this list may include some platforms and programs that are really more orientated towards collaborating on code than documents (eg GITLab). I'm including these in case some components of their stack may be useful to us, but after I've done some more testing and evaluation, I will start separating code and documenting platforms into separate tables.

- Strypey


Server-side Platforms






 Business model


Atlas O'Reilly Media ?
GIT-based commercial with gratis trial aimed at people writing technical manuals. "On the Atlas platform, you write, design, and publish in one environment and workflow. Produce print or digital content without an expensive “retooling” of fundamental processes—and even publish content that is “born digital” in print." Supports multiple output formats (MOBI, ePub, Print and Web PDF, HTML). "You can always access or move your own content—it’s in a non-proprietary, open format, so you can’t get locked in."
Authorea Authorea
Ruby on Rails ?
GIT-based gratis for open access articles, commercial for private
aimed at people doing academic writing, supports writings in LaTeX, Markdown, HTML, Javascript, and more, some free code components

gratis to run on your own server, Pro commercial hosting
evolved out of in-house software used by FLOSSmanuals.net to facilitate the accelerated production models enabled by book sprints.
CollateBox CollateBox Inc.

commercial with gratis trial more of a shared spreadsheet/ database than an authoring tool

commercial, gratis for limited use
"Structured and collaborative writing for large documents"

"Easy version control and collaboration for writers"
EtherPad Etherpad Foundation  Scala  Apache 2.0 ?
 free code with many gratis instances  The base software for PiratePad and many other instances, EtherPad allows for real-time editing, with a chat sidebar. No registration required, just enter a name, choose a colour, and edit/chat. Timeline visualises the full edit history of each pad.


aimed at people who like sharing and modifying recipes

commercial with free trial
"Content planning, production & workflow software"

uses Adobe Flash! Aimed at creative and academic writers, "Gingko is a new kind of tool, that lets you shape your ideas with lists, outlines and cards, all in the same clean interface."

Apache 2.0
gratis for public projects, commercial for private projects authoring front-end for GITHub? Has a server-side component and a desktop component.
GITHub Pages GitHub


hosting for blogs and homepages
Expat License  with some proprietary "extras"
gratis for public projects, commercial for private projects
mainly intended for software projects, and the interface is non-intuitive to someone who isn't use to code forges
Comunes Collective/ OurProjects

some gratis demo sites like Kune.cc
based on the same underlying technology as Apache Wave, Kune offers collaborative documents, live chat, and group messaging (unlike email messages stay on the originating server more like the way the web works with RSS), and federation using the Wave Protocol built on XMPP, but with more of a focus on groups of users than individual users

royalties on e-book sales
writing platform, one-click-publishing to mulptiple formats, and e-book sales

requires Twitter login, "No formatting. No toolbars. No folders, file formats, or compatibility problems."
Penflip MadebyLoren.com

gratis for public projects, commercial rates for private
"I'm building Penflip, a collaborative writing platform. It's similar to GitHub, but designed for writing instead of coding."
Poetica Poetica

gratis to use
"content collaboration for WordPress", UI resembles working on paper with pen, also integrate with Slack
PHP 5.6.X and WordPress 4.4.1 GPLv2
gratis with watermark on digital files, or one-off charge per book for ad-free
built on Wordpress Multisite
Prose Development Seed
Javascript, CSS, and MarkUp
GitHub gratis
"a web-based interface for managing content on GITHub"
ProseMirror (beta)
"represents changes to documents as well-defined pieces of data. Such changes can be stored, inverted (for undo), analyzed (think git blame), and filtered (to implement more complex types of content restriction). And most importantly, they can be sent over the wire to implement real-time collaborative editing."

commercial, gratis for limited use
documents, spreadsheets, lists, chat
The Alliance for Networking Visual Culture
homepage uses some Flash
Educational Community License, Version 2.0
gratis to use
"Scalar enables users to assemble media from multiple sources and juxtapose them with their own writing in a variety of ways, with minimal technical expertise required."

" In-browser markdown editor"
TypeWrite Josh C

gratis to use
"A simple, real-time collaborative writing environment"

gratis to use
"Write. In private. With your own free online notebook"
Apache Wave/ Wave in a Box (formerly Google Wave)
Apache Foundation
Apache 2.0

gratis to run on your own server, various gratis hosted services including Kune.cc
Combines a collaborative document editor with live chat and group messaging, federated using Wave Protocol, an extension of XMPP.

aimed at gift-giving

Kathi Fletcher has a Shuttleworth Fellowship grant to develop collaborative authoring tools for OER Textbooks

Using GIT as a file server: 'Git Fileserver Backend Walkthrough'

Desktop and Mobile Client Software





 Supported Platforms



GNU/Linux, OSX, Windows
"The Markdown enabled Next Document Processor"

IA Writer

 Information Architects
 Cocoa  proprietary  iOS, OSX, Android


OSX, and Windows (Vista or above)
"multi-platform EPUB ebook Editor"

"a sophisticated text editor for code, markup and prose."
Substance Composer

cross-platfrom, currently in beta (as of May 2014), "Do-It-Yourself Publishing for everyone", "Write for the web. The web just turned 25. And still, most writing tools available are only simulating print."
Wolf Vollprecht Python
Inspired by IA Writer