Shared authoring wanted
March 1, 2006 10:40 PM   Subscribe

I tend the website of a small nonprofit. Some of our board members would like authoring tools to put bylaws and policies out for the board and have it accept revisions by a restricted set of users.

Plain text isn't sufficient, at a minimum formatting like bold and italic, and tables would be needed. We'd like to be able to track changes and see who made them.

So I'm looking for suggestions of what would be easy to install and use. Either free or very low cost. Our webhosting is Linux and Apache. Everyone in our group has MS Word if that helps.
posted by richg to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
Wiki is probably the easiest, both to setup and use.

You could also just store html files in a version control repository (using CVS or Subversion or [insert program de jour here].) The way this works is the person checks out the file, makes the edits, and when satisfied, just checks the file in again. The web server is set up with a check-in hook to automatically update the live copy with the just checked-in version. This allows for the full expressiveness of HTML editing, but changes are tracked by user and can be easily backed out for whatever reason. You can use webcvs (or equivalent) to be able to browse past revisions and see diffs. Access control is done through the version control system.

Many open source projects use this scheme for managing their entire web sites. It is very flexible, but it tends to work well with people that are already used to hand-editing html. It also requires installing a CVS or SVN client, and using a plain-text editor. If you want something that is all in the browser, it probably isn't a good idea.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:59 PM on March 1, 2006

Paying forward a previous AskMe gold nugget: Writeboard, from the Backpack folks. Not 100% sure on tables but it does bold/italic and lists like a champ.

Used it for an almost identical project. Includes password protection. I was thinking Wiki back then, but after searching AskMe, I found it was a quick and easy solution if you have a (relatively) simple problem. The document we made had like five articles, each with numbered subclauses and stuff, and it was ideal.

Also recommended back then was Writely. I have no experience with that product, but just passing it along.
posted by SuperNova at 11:19 PM on March 1, 2006

Dokuwiki is easy to use and dosn't require a database. Plain PHP.
posted by delmoi at 11:50 PM on March 1, 2006

Macromedia Contribute, dig it.
posted by rlef98 at 2:10 AM on March 2, 2006

MODx does this and is free. It's PHP and takes five minutes to install.
posted by wackybrit at 3:35 AM on March 2, 2006

Wiki. Socialtext.
posted by gen at 3:45 AM on March 2, 2006

Actually, if you can afford a copy of Macromedia Dreamweaver and some licenses for Contribute, I highly recommend it as well. You can setup users, passwords, control what they edit, see what they edit, be notified via email etc. It was created for exactally this situation.
posted by bkdelong at 6:21 AM on March 2, 2006

Another recommendation for Contribute.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:32 AM on March 2, 2006

posted by Wild_Eep at 6:50 AM on March 2, 2006

Check into TechSoup - lots of tech solutions for non-profits and active boards for advice.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:41 AM on March 2, 2006

My first thought when I read this was a wiki; the basic Wiki concept seems to fit your needs very well. For what you describe, you can probably get by with just about any piece of wiki software out there; you don't really need all the features of something like Mediawiki (which is what Wikipedia uses).
posted by Godbert at 10:07 AM on March 2, 2006

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