Who will use Buzzword?
We’ve designed Buzzword for people who a) write a lot; b) need access to their documents and tools in more than one place; c) collaborate with others when writing by soliciting comments and peer editing; d) do not have an IT department supporting their computing environment.
And, very importantly, we designed Buzzword for people who care about how their documents look.
One population that fits this description is secondary and post-secondary education. Students, by definition write a lot, access the web from an average of 4 different points/day, do collaborative work with other students and receive comments and editing from their teachers, and in many cases have little or no IT support.
A second group that fits our target consists of adults who are working outside a large enterprise – those who work on their own, or with volunteer groups, standards bodies, church groups, or other ad hoc organizations without the technical resources to support collaborative software.
By building Buzzword in the Web, we expect to provide the collaborative infrastructure and document repository these people would otherwise not have.
Here are some of the aspects of Buzzword that we think will appeal to a wide audience.
1. What You See Is What You Get
Unlike virtually every other web-based editor, Buzzword is WYSIWYG. With every keystroke or layout change, Buzzword instantly recomputes character spacing, line endings, page breaks, headers and footers, and running text around graphics. The result is that the document as displayed on the screen is always an exact replica of the document that others see, either on the screen or when printed.
There are a number of reasons the page fidelity is important, even in these days of amorphous web content.
- Printed output still matters, and has been the Buzzword focus from the beginning.
- Experience matters: structured and polished presentation of content is a key to an optimum reading experience. Precise layout, typography and pagination provides far better experience than what is generally available on blogs and wikis.
- Buzzword’s focus on the page allows it to play well in both the worlds of printed output and web publishing.
2. The Importance of Design
Buzzword is designed for simplicity and elegance, so it doesn’t get in the way of your writing. And Buzzword offers the right features to provide power and control over the polished look of your document.
Our editing controls are what you’d expect in a high-end word-processor. You can highlight, drag and drop, or you can cut and paste. But we’ve gone farther, and taken a fresh approach to some of the standard, most often-used commands:
- We’ve reworked the traditional word processing menu in order to simplify the screen and to focus as much visual attention on the document itself.
- We’ve simplified complex functionality of tables and images to make them accessible yet elegant.
- And we’ve taken pains in dozens of areas where fit and finish – and even fun – will make the experience most appealing.
We think our focus on elegant, accessible design elevates the art and craft of writing, collaboration as well as reading.
3. Comments and Collaboration
Documents are often the product of several people’s contributions. A document might have multiple authors, or there may be several drafts sent around for review. Students, for example, may have a team assignment or at the very least be submitting the paper for grading and comments from the teacher.
This is typically done today by attaching a Word document to an email and sending it to multiple people. The resulting proliferation of documents and comments often leads to confusion and version collision.
But if you have only one copy of the document stored in the cloud, collaboration becomes much simpler. The owner can share the document with whomever she wishes. Each user sees the same copy of the document and sees changes and comments in real time.
You can turn comments on and off from the View Menu. When comments are active, you’ll see a small comment bubble in the right margin of your document. When you mouse to the comment bubble, it expands and prompts you to “Click to add a new comment here”. Comments are actually small documents, so you can add text, tables or graphics. You can also drag the contents of a comment into the body of the document.
You can invite people to share your document by assigning one of three roles:
- Editor – full writing privileges
- Commenter – can only add comments to the document
- Reader – read only
4. Wherever you go, your documents are there
An important value of all web applications is having your files available (and the authoring environment) from anywhere you want to access them, from any machine with an Internet experience.
We’ve all had the frustrating experience when our documents are inaccessible â€“ not only to others but oneself. Creative approaches to file management and access have become commonplace:
- Email documents to oneself
- Store documents as drafts in web mail
- Fumble with various small external drives (USB, CF, etc.)
- Rent space at on-line repositories.
- Send files to a cell phone via Bluetooth or IR
These approaches still separate the files from their authoring and viewing environment, so you end up having multiple versions of the same document, which can lead to confusion and inefficiency.
Buzzword makes all this file management unnecessary – there is no longer any need to find and package your files, or worry whether you have the right version of your editing software. Buzzword is simple, self-contained and virtually ubiquitous.