Non-Sharepoint Version Control for Word?
June 6, 2008 10:21 AM Subscribe
Alternatives to SharePoint for multi-user collaboration and version control on Word documents (Word 2004 Mac, 2008 Mac)?
posted by Alterscape to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a grad student. The last paper I worked on had three actively contributing authors, and in the last day before the deadline, I spent almost all day integrating changes submitted via email from the other two authors into a single up-to-date version (we were all working in one office, on separate machines). I know about "track changes" in Word, but that only works effectively when a single document is edited by many people in a serial manner, which isn't terribly efficient.
I don't feel like this is good use of anyone's time. We use subversion and git to version-control software source code, and subethaedit or Google Docs/wikis from time to time to pair-program or work on writing text collaboratively. Subethaedit has no formatting capabilities, as it's meant as a programmer's editor, and neither Google Docs' nor wikis' formatting capabilities are up to par with the complex formatting requirements of some of the venues we publish in. In theory, we could compose the text in google docs/wikis/a version-controlled plaintext document and format it for Word as a last step, but my coauthors often want to see/manipulate the document in Word early on in the drafting process to check length and layout figures/etc.
Since the new xml-based Word documents are in theory plaintext files, I suppose Git could handle them if I handled conflict resolution in a text editor, but many of my collaborators still use older versions of Word that can't export the xml-based files.
I know I could write the text with LaTeX markup, version control that with our plaintext version control system, and render the output the final PDF through LaTeX, but I don't think I could convince the rest of my collaborators to learn TeX syntax, and some of the venues I publish in only provide Word templates.
I personally use NeoOffice and OpenOffice when possible, but I own Word 2008 in order to more easily collaborate with Word users, and I don't think I could convince the people I work with to switch to OpenOffice, so any version tracking system I used would need to accomodate .doc/.docx files anyway.
Sharepoint seems to be the Microsoft-blessed solution, but we're a Mac shop (nowhere to run the server) and I don't think I could convince anyone to spend the money to license SharePoint when there are RAs available to do the grunt work for the cost of their time.
All the same, I'd like to get some kind of collaborative, version-tracking workflow in place for our Word documents. Am I missing any options here? I'm primarily interested in low-cost solutions (no FileNet or Documentum here, sorry) but I'm willing to do some setup grunt work if necessary.