EtherPad: What Happens when Google Docs Developers Go Crazy
Article by George Norman
On 21 Nov 2008
Have you ever wondered what could happen if some of the people behind Google docs would leave Google and start working on a similar product? With support from Y Combinator and Friendfeed they would come up with EtherPad – one piece of software that does not score high points in the looks department, but really racks up the points in terms of group productivity.

“It’s comparable to Google Docs or a wiki, but it’s far more useful. You start off by creating a new workspace. You type basic text on numbered lines at will. Then invite someone else in and have them type as well. Each user’s edits are highlighted a different color. Changes are made in absolute real time, something even Google hasn’t been able to do,” says Michael Arrington from TechCrunch.


The software was launched earlier this week, and if you thought Google Docs was a good product, then EtherPad will really blow your mind. There are other useful features, besides the ones presented above. With a few clicks of the mouse you can customize EtherPad to your liking – you do not like the line numbers for example, just take them out; you want JavaScript syntax to be highlighted, set up EtherPad to do this automatically. In order to aid with communication, there is a built-in chat feature in the sidebar, meaning that you can instantly convey your message to your collaborator or collaborators.

The platform on which the EtherPad application was built upon is AppJet. The thing is that the ex-Google developers did not use just any AppJet platform; they got the chance to build up EtherPad on a brand new version of AppJet that has not been released to the general public yet. The whole process was beneficial to EtherPad as well as to AppJet – the two grew synchronously.

Additional details on Etherpad, as well as a minute and a half screencast are available here.

Tags: EtherPad, Google Docs, AppJet
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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