EtherPad first started to gain momentum when it stepped onto the scene late last year. Though it was often poked fun at for having a less than attractive setup, the simple tool did its job and did it well.
Today, the real-time wiki from AppJet is back for a second go, this time with a sleeker look and improved functionality.
EtherPad was originally founded by a couple of former Googlers who wanted a real-time, collaboration tool specifically for notes and documents.
The tool debuted with the ability to allow multiple people to make edits to a document in real-time. A user starts by creating a document, then a link to to the document is generated and sent to each member of the team. After that, let the editing begin.
To keep things in line and easy on the eyes, each user’s edits are highlighted in a different color. Changes are made in absolute real time, instead of after a 15 second cushion, like similar offering, Google Docs. Users can improve collaboration even further by taking advantage of versioning, and the chat functionality in the sidebar.
This week, EtherPad has been re-released as a new, much better looking version with more tools and functionality.
The tool is still pretty basic, but includes a handful of new essentials (including a cleaner UI, which, believe you us, in this case, was more than essential). EtherPad now lets users import and export Word, PDF, Plain Text and HTML documents. Or, if a user wants to write a document in EtherPad, the tool now features rich text formatting, including bold, underline, italics and strikethrough commands to the wiki.
Like all good Web-based tools, a free version of EtherPad is available; however, you cannot protect your documents with a password unless you shell out dough for a paid version. Don't worry, it's not a bank breaker.
The EtherPad Professional Edition is securely hosted in the cloud, and is free for up to 3 users. Above 3, the price goes up to a whole US$ 8 per user per month. The Private Network Edition for Enterprises is $99 per seat as a one-time fee, and documents are kept behind a firewall.
It looks and sounds like EtherPad is still doing as well as it was when it was first release, but whether or not it's a worthy opponent great Google, is still up in the air. What's your opinion?