Thursday, September 22, 2005

Writely: A Web-Based Word Processor

Several years ago Bill Gates said that we soon would have web-based software and not bother having any on our desktops and notebook computers. His forecast was a little premature; people seem to like having software on their computers and are a little frightened by the idea of all their work in cyberspace; they can work offline with computer-bound software. Still many people have gone to totally web-based email; the precedent is set.

Yesterday I learned about Writely - The Web Word Processor while reading the blog The Distant Librarian. It is so new that the instruction page is not complete; there are several gaps were the editors have not yet decided what to say. What they do say is that their web-based word processor is free for anyone to use in its beta phase; later there will be a variety of free and fee versions. They suggest the product will be useful for people who like to collaborate with others; start a document and tell your friends by adding their email addresses to the permissions for document access; they can then add to the document online. The editors also suggest Writely will be handy for people who travel; if they can get to the Web, they can get to their documents.

I am composing this document on Writely. I am assured that I can post it directly to Blogger when I am ready; Blogger is the only weblog that is so supported at present, but the editors are taking requests. I have given Aaron access to the document, so he can collaborate.

I tried to post directly from Writely to Blogger, but it did not work. I kept getting an error message : " 'o' is an undeclared namespace. Line 1318, position 2." I have no idea what that means. I double-checked my blog settings. So I pasted the message here instead. Maybe the beta product is having a blogging problem. I'll try another item in a few days.

The word processor itself seems at first glance to have all the basic features I use. You can see this document at Maybe Aaron will have added a comment.


Sam said...


I'm one of the Writely folks. We're aware of this issue - basically, Word likes to make up tags like the "O" tag. And Blogger turns out to be very particular about which tags it will accept, and it rejects these. We've got a filter in the next revision for this.

Also, we're supporting any metablog, blogger or moveableType blog systems in the next release (should be out next week).

Sorry about the hassle! Thanks for the review.


Sam said...


Can you contact me? We want to look specifically at the document that failed to post, I want to understand what's going on with these tags so we can make sure they get on the blacklist.