Sunday, May 13, 2007

SubEthaEdit is my Hero

I thought I'd post a little "shop talk" today, and sing the praises of a new program I've been working with called SubEthaEdit. Created by a small German developer called codingmonkeys, SubEthaEdit is an amazing collaborative text editor for Mac users, that lets two or more people work on the very same text at the very same time. It won an Apple Design Award in 2003, but they've continued fine-tuning it ever since, and are currently in version 2.6.3. The program is so much better than anything else I've seen--you can literally watch a collaborator's edits in real time, and he/she can see yours (each person is colour coded so you can keep track of "who's who"). It's almost like experiencing some sort of telepathic link with your co-author--it's so much easier to discuss ideas, edits, changes, corrections, etc. through the writing process itself, where you can show the person exactly what you mean and engage directly with the text. I was introduced to this little gem last fall by Richard Smith, but didn't get around to using it until this past spring. Anil Narine and I used it to write about 80% of a co-authored paper we just finished, and it saved us hours and hours, perhaps days, of time. Gone are the days of messy track changes and confusing multiple versions for me. The program is a little bare bones for now--you can't really import your formatting, and footnotes eerily disappear--but I got used to writing in text pretty quickly, and you can import it back into Word for post-writing formatting without a hitch. The people at codingmonkeys are very nice and quick to respond to email. They offer a free thirty day trial, after which you can buy it for the small sum of $35. Plus, students get a discount (email them to request a discount code)--mine only cost $20.

Here's another link to the official site.
You can also check out the Wikipedia entry here. And here's a Geek Patrol review of an earlier version of the program.
But the best way to understand the awesomeness that is SubEthaEdit is to download the free trial version with a buddy and try it out for yourself.

No comments: