Does an elegant solution for editing documents in Track Changes exist?
November 7, 2011 2:19 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for well-designed word processing software that lets me edit documents in Track Changes and is compatible with MS Word. Does it exist or am I dreaming?

A large part of my work involves managing edits to documents that are worked on by multiple people. Normally we use the Track Changes feature in Microsoft Word to do this.

But using Word is a pain because:
  1. It's bloated and crashy on both Windows and Mac.
  2. The implementation of Track Changes is poorly designed: with many changes and comments, revisions disappear into a separate window; it's not possible to comment cleanly on text that is removed (for example to give a justification for a deletion); previous history is lost as changes are accepted.
Software like IA Writer made writing enjoyable again by cutting out the cruft. Assuming that formatting only happens when the text editing is finished, does a similar solution not exist for editing documents with Track Changes? Ideally something that is compatible with Word's implementation, as it's hard to get a ton of people to switch their system (so not GDocs or wikis). Bonus points for being cross-platform, particularly IOS.

Does anyone know of any software that could fit this requirement? Is there one in development I can support? Or just a halfway-house solution in the meantime?
posted by scrm to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Apple's Pages for the Mac works very well with Track Changes. I don't know if the iOS version has that functionality though.

I've also had a good experience with the latest Word for Mac - it seems much sturdier and slimmer than the previous versions.
posted by Magnakai at 2:41 AM on November 7, 2011

The mac-only Mellel has partial track changes compatibility with word. It is a very high quality word processor.
posted by FrereKhan at 5:22 AM on November 7, 2011

NeoOffice (Mac) works surprisingly well with Word's Track Changes. I have used it on a paid editing project and the quirks that did pop up were small enough not to annoy my (paying) client.

One quirk you may or may not encounter: the client SWORE that my colored highlights (yellow, e.g.) from NeoOffice were not eraseable on Word. Not sure I believe her.
posted by skbw at 5:22 AM on November 7, 2011

Beware of comments in NeoOffice. They look like they work (ie you can create them), but they don't seem to be saved when you export a document to Word .docx. This was the cause of some consternation for me earlier this year. Track changes themselves (additions/deletions) seemed to work just fine.
posted by Alterscape at 10:00 AM on November 7, 2011

I can't remember the last time Word crashed on me, and I use it on multiple computers, some of them pretty close to obsolescent and I share change-tracked files with many, many different users who report no such problems. Your problem might be more hardware based than software based.
posted by yoink at 10:09 AM on November 7, 2011

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