revizor_logo_2009.gif Anyone who regularly has to produce any kind of written content in the course of their working day will understand this -- changing text without an apparent reason is very, very annoying.

It is maybe with this in mind that Sacramento-based Edit Connection has released a new document collaboration website that lets you look, but doesn’t let you touch -- unless, of course, the author allows it.

It is this difference from wikis that will probably get most of the attention. Revizr allows numerous document collaborators make suggestions on changes to be made, but leaves the ultimate decision on those changes to the document creator.

Author Controlled Editing

In effect, Revizr leaves control of the editing process in the hands of the creator, but can turn suggestions and possible edits, into usable red pen markup.

If this sounds like a simple idea, in reality it actually is.

"Before now there was a bargain you were forced to accept in order to collaborate effectively online. To get feedback on your work you had to give up control of what you'd done," said Ryan Koopmans, President of Edit Connection, creator of Revizr. "Now with Revizr you get all of the feedback and keep all of the control."

Revizr documents in five steps

Using custom-made technology -- although the Revizr website doesn’t appear to explain what technology -- collaborators' work is shown as natural mark-up.

And to use it, individual document writers, once they have subscribed to the site, can upload Word Documents and invite collaborators to rewrite, or edit them.

You can choose to seal off your Revizr account from the outside world, or to allow guest users in with just the rights they need to collaborate effectively.

Author-Defined Collaboration

But let’s not be flippant about this; this is not a tool simply for editing business letters, or your four-year old’s homework.

Edit Connection points out that with documents like legal contracts, or company user manuals, this tool would be particularly useful as there is complete traceability with all changes, and all parties involved can collaborate on drafting the documents.

All documents are accessible by user-defined administrators who can decide who and when different collaborators can work on given documents.

While Basic accounts are free of charge for individual users, for businesses or even enterprises there are subscription based accounts that are more secure and include more features.

All users need to use Revizr is a computer with a web browser and internet connectivity. All data is stored securely off-site, with access controlled by the user.

Document Collaboration Releases

How Revizr fares in the coming months is anyone's guess -- the SaaS document collaboration space is getting to be a crowded one. Apart from the fact that your average SaaS-based content management system contains online document collaboration features, there are products similar to Revizr coming onto the market at a gallop.

In March alone this year, Nordic River released a web based version of its word processing collaboration tool TextFlow, while – one of the bigger players in the cloud-based storage market -- added web-based document editing capabilities to its solution.

Many of the features apparent in Revizr are also present in these offerings.

Textflow, for example, allows concurrent editing from multiple writers on the same document with access to the entire document workflow process through one platform.

For its part, with its new Web Documents interface gives users the ability to enter text, format it and edit HTML code if they wish, while any Web Document created in the wiki-style editor is shared with everyone already collaborating inside the containing folder -- no additional configuration.

What About Pricing?

So what way to go? It depends on what it is you are looking for. and Nordic River are well established players and you know what you are going to get with them.

On the other hand, Revizr genuinely offers a product that appears to have an ease-of-use that even a child could master.

What really needs to be seen is how it holds up in large-scale document collaboration contexts, and how much it's going to cost.