Thing 9. Online Collaboration Tools

Many people use email and attached documents to share various versions of a project. This may work, but there are several obstacles to smooth exchange and editing. Attachments may not open or you or your collaborators may not have the same software program or the right version to open and edit a document. It is easy to lose track of which is the current version with all the changes.

Web 2.0 tools make collaborating on creating a document or other publication easier. Documents are online and available from any computer with Internet access. Edits are easy to make and save. The program saves a document’s history with all changes made and indicates who made the changes. A full set of word processing tools makes formatting simple. Click the toolbar buttons to bold, underline, indent, change font or number format, change cell background color and so on.

In this Thing, edit a famous document using these two collaboration tools. Both are free. You don’t need an account to edit these public documents. To create and share documents, you must sign up for an account.

Zoho offers a suite of productivity web applications. Zoho Writer is the word processor. It allows instant collaboration, inline commenting and chat facilities. It allows multiple users to work on a document simultaneously, you can import Microsoft Word (DOC), OpenOffice text (ODT & SXW), HTML, RTF, JPG, GIF, & PNG files. Options include sharing documents only with your colleagues/friends or you can publish them for public view.

Use Google Docs to create basic word processing documents, presentations, or spreadsheets from scratch or you can upload your existing files. Google Docs accepts most popular file formats, including DOC, XLS, ODT, ODS, RTF, CSV, PPT, etc. You can share documents with a select group or make the document public.

1. Look at this public document in Google Docs.
Make as many edits and changes to the documents as you wish, using the various editing tools available. Send an email to and we will invite you as a collaborator.
2. Zoho Writer lets anyone who knows the address look at the document, but you must be invited to edit it. If you want to edit this in Zoho Writer, send an email to and we will invite you.

Blog Prompts
  • Which of these tools is easier for you to use?
  • How do the features of each compare? Does one have features that would make you choose it over the other?
  • What would the Founding Fathers think?
Challenge (optional)
1. Sign up for an account in Zoho and/or Google.
2. Create and share another type of document using other Zoho tools—Sheet (spreadsheet), Show (presentation tool), Notebook, or Wiki.
3. Publish the document (Public) and post the link on your blog for others to view and/or edit.
4. Blog about the tools' ease of use, potential in the library, and other thoughts.


minnemom said...

Do we need to request permission to edit the Google document?

kathie said...

I think you do need an account to edit these documents. I did get permission to edit both.

Media Sandy said...

FYI there is a misspelling in #2: send an email to and we wil invite you.
Just thought I'd let you know!

Lean 23 Things on a stick said...

I signed up for access to Google Docs and tried to edit the document on Zoho Writer but didn't/couldn't actually do anything. What am I missing?

Books Rock! said...

This, by far, has been the most frustrating "Thing" for me. GoogleDocs refreshes the screen so fast you can only get about three words typed and then save before you loose everything. As for ZohoWriter, when I click on the link to get to the "23 Things Practice Document" in my e-mail, the document shows up but you can't edit it until you log in. When I log in (from the document screen) the 23 Things document goes away and I get a "Welcome" document and no longer can find, search, retrieve, upload or anything to get the "23 Things" practice document back to edit. Very frustrating!!! What am I doing wrong?

Library Lee said...

I also discovered that even though I have a Google account I don't have permission to edit the document. It may or may not get sent to me. In the meantime, it's frustrating to set aside time to work on these items, follow the instructions and hit roadblocks.

Martha said...

I am using Google Docs. I realize that you can upload the file from your computer. Only be sure that the file is saved in word 97-2003 documents because it doesn’t work with word 2007

Shocker boy said...

BEWARE!...I think this last comment on software "Projjex" by this "person" is an advertisment from the company...seems this "comment" is stated word for word all over the internet and might be generated by a advertising cyberbot??? Prove me wrong "Abycsales" can't fool a library human...

Kayaking Queen said...

I requested permission to edit both documents and only recieved permission to edit the Zoho document , BUT I can't get it to work properly:( Here's what happens. I follow the link and the document is there and then I go to sign in and it disappears so I'm not able to edit it. What am I doing wrong????