Using Writely

Using Writely

This is my first post that I have written using Writely – an online writing and collaboration tool from Google. The beta launch of the site follows hot on the heels of Google’s online spreadsheets tool.
At the moment you have to sign-up for an invitation. I did this a couple of weeks ago and received my invitation this morning.
The easiest way to describe the site is as an online word processor that features a whole bunch of collaboration tools as well. Those of you who use 37Signal’s Writeboard will recognise the basic functionality in Writely, and will find a whole lot more as well.
I haven’t had a chance to play extensively yet, but some of the things that look useful are:

  • one-click posting to a host of different blogging engines (will be testing this with WordPress in just a moment)
  • being able to invite collaborators by email
  • version histories (as in Writeboard)
  • being able to email directly into Writeboard (so you can cc an email as a starting point for an online document to work on together)
  • being able to tag and star documents to help keep larger numbers of documents organised
  • selecting documents as public and allowing anyone on the web to view them (and edit for people with invitations)
  • being able to save your work out as HTML, MS Word, OpenOffice formats (and more)

I can think of a wide range of applications for a system like this. I know there are many other online collaboration tools out there, but none I know of have the range of features that Writely does. However what might set Writely apart as a mainstream tool is that it’s very similar in feel to a desktop word processor that most people are familiar with – the extras are there, but don’t distract from the basic task of writing, formatting and editing.
About to hit the post button now, so let’s see how the integration with WordPress works…
[update: 17th August 6.50am]
Posting to WordPress went well. Easy integration within Writely. Only bug seemed to be that it didn’t carry the article title over. I also had to enter categories and tags once in WordPress.
I don’t think Writely is intended as a blog editor (there are many tools that do this much better), but it’s useful to have that function there anyway. The real value is in the collaboration.


I work as a fractional Chief Operating Officer (COO), consultant and advisor. I created the B3 framework® for company building and I also write a newsletter called Build for leaders who care about creating resilient and sustainable businesses.