Skip to content

liquid thoughts Posts

Author & Collaboration

I had a wonderful afternoon with Pavel today and we discussed collaboration and how Author might fit into an ecosystem of collaborative documents.

I am not a huge fan of the traditional model of collaborative documents – I think it’s important to keep the documents from getting too messy, as my feeling of total freedom collaboration documents with the unlimited colourful markups and such provide. I also feel that it’s important to have roles in collaboration. Otherwise I think people are reticent to do work someone else might be doing, or someting may be missed and so on – I think roles help give ownership and a more secure space from which to deal with the inputs of others.

We therefore discussed how we might design an online discourse system with open APIs so people can contribute via Author or any other platform. I think it’s way too ambitious, and limiting, to pretent Author can be a full collaboration environment so I want to focus on building the best possible single user experience which then publishes into the dialog. To support publishing into the dialog Author will export with paragraph level addressability (Author will insert an anchor tag at the beginning of each paragraph, and an invisible link to it at the end) and will work to enhance the way citations are handled.

I feel good about this. Really quite very good, which is why I’m sitting at home typing this (in Author OS X) while having an espresso, some Neuhaus and listening to trance at seven thirty on a Thursday when Emily is out with a friend, rather than Battlefield 4 with full volume…).

The next step is to complete and launch Author as a solid single user word processor which can export citations well, then discuss and plan the wide discourse system.

Leave a Comment

And it’s Wednesday (& Liquid lives in Author iOS…)

It’s mid week and development is frustrating as ever as we are getting close to release. The first public beta went out yesterday for Liquid | Author iOS (OS X is way behind, I might have to transfer work to the iOS team) which is a great feeling and brilliant milestone to reach but we still have iCloud and document issues, which will be worked on this week.

It’s amazing though, that we now have Liquid functionality in Author iOS: Select text and choose Search or References and we even open this in a browser in the app. I only saw this the first time a few hours ago. Quite wonderful.

Tomorrow I’ll be seeing Pavel for lunch and will show him how Author is doing, while talking about citations & such.

Friday Dino, David and Sam + Gail are joining us for dinner and talk.

1 Comment

Why I am building Liquid | Author & The Reality of Version 1.

I believe firmly that the written word is a fundamental unit of knowledge and as such, the richer we interact with the written word the richer we interact with our knowledge, and each other.

Richness of interaction matters in so many aspect of our lives but for some reason what we have for text is generally seen as good enough and that is just quite simply strange. The athlete, the driver, pilot, painter, photographer, musiscian, dancer and most other professions and passions thrive on rich interactivity and there is a thirst for further increasing the richeness through which we can carry out our work. That a smiliar thirst does not exist for interactive text boggles my mind and is a bit beyond this post.

Let’s start with the most fundamental – interaction. I would go so far as to say that interaction is the root of all there is. Nothing has any qualities when entirely alone and un-interacted with. What is hot, what is cold? Information is made alive and useful and turned into information through interaction.

Information is the something about something
Connection are the somethings where other things meet
Interaction is the ability to make and follow the connections

Therefore I feel that we should do anything and everything we possibly can to make the written word as richly interactive as possible.

When it’s important to read the full text of a document this should be done in the most pleasant way possible, with the best use of typography and options for the user as to how the user wants to see the words.

This is fine. But what about those dense and difficult documents you need to go through for work which you need to understand beyond what the author thought about?

This is the challenge.

The Reality of Liquid Author 1.0

I have spent much more money on this project than I should have and I’ve had to make some hard compromises for what the first version should include, as is not exactly rare in passion-software projects. As such, the first version will only barely scratch the surface for what we can do with connections and interaction. Too much time and money has gone into iCloud and document synch but even though this is frustrating like crazy, it’s ok, since my single biggest concern is to have a system which has any potential for document damage or loss. One team is working on iOS (Magora) and Pekka is working on OS X.

Beta is Monday, then a few tweaks and hopefully fixing iCloud.

Then I can introduce Liquid | Author to the world and build relationships with a real product in hand, while the teams work on WordPress publishing, basic academic export and a few other smaller features.

It’s exciting and pretty stresseful…

1 Comment