Writely – A Quick Glance

I have a Writely account and decided to test it out and see how it works. Writely is touted as an online collaborative document creation application that can export to various formats (documents, webpages, post to blogs, give an RSS feed, etc..). It was said to have a great WYSIWYG editor, and I was curious to see how accurate all these statements were. My take on Writely was far less glorious than what I had heard.

A view of the main page shows the simple interface that you see in Writely.

Image of Main Interface

The Main Writely Interface

Continuing on, I decided to make a quick document and see how it works. So I played with the WYSIWYG editor they have and made up some test text.

Image of Main WYSIWYG Interface

The Main Writely WYSIWYG Interface

After two days of searching for how to view the HTML source without previewing it as a webpage (yes, I got annoyed after looking for at least an hour and then tried to find it again the next day) I felt victorious when I located a toggle between the rich text version and the HTML (it’s this itty bitty button arrow on one of the tabs, I swear its like their hiding it like the deep dark secret it should be). So… I look at the source…

Image of the Generated Code

The Writely WYSIWYG Generated Code

(Ignore the double representation of the top bar. That was just my ScreenGrab! seeing it twice because the code is in an inner frame and I didn’t feel like editing it out.)

I absolutely cringed at that code. Writely is touting its portability to webpages, blogs, etc.. so their code is important. You just have to love beta software applications that autogenerate tag-soup and stick in the depreciated font tag. I tried out several of the other features, some worked, and some didn’t. That is forgiveable in a beta level application – but writing a new application that generates this sort of code just won’t do. That code generation problem has to be fixed. So, for at least a good while or until some more changes are done with it, this quick glance is all I’m giving to Writely. I’m more closely watching Synchroedit (multi-user simultaneous document editing), and StikiPad (document collaboration and twiki style), or using Writeboard for things like this in the meantime.


2 thoughts

  1. SynchroEdit in itself isn’t really about producing clean code, at all, and it most assuredly doesn’t, either. Though we’re working on making some tools that will “clean up” code, possibly even at set intervals throughout the editing to optimize the editing. Ultimately though, it’ll be up to whoever uses it to transform the resulting mess into something useful. I doubt it’s hard, and I’m sure we’ll have tools for it eventually.

  2. Wow, someone at w3c should include i, em, strong, or b in the next drafting already so we can do away with all the span class “strong” “italics”!

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