3. Affordances and Constraints

Affordances

When I first experimented with Editorially, I found myself comparing it to the products we’re all familiar with. In a day and age where we take most software programs for granted, it’s hard to see the little things that make each program work so well. On future uses of the program, I began to notice things I’d been seemingly oblivious to—all of the little bits and pieces that really helped Editorially as a successful product. Some of these overlooked features include:

  • A distraction-free zone. Editorially mentions this when you first sign up, but hearing something is very different from experiencing it. The first time around, I was so focused on trying to find features similar to Google that I completely didn’t notice how Editorially intentionally keeps their document pages simple. For them, it’s all about the writing. Any program can offer hundreds of thousands of formatting features to the point where it’s overwhelming. Since you’re not keeping your writing in Editorially—hopefully you’re going to be posting it somewhere on the internet—they are more concerned with providing a blank page with as little distraction as possible.
  • Autosave. This is one of those things we take for granted, until it’s not there and we’re wondering where that unsaved essay went. Editorially autosaves in real-time. And if you lost your connection? That’s okay too. It saves a copy of your draft in your browser’s cache.
  • Collaboration. Editorially takes a very different spin on collaboration then Google docs. If you want somebody to edit or proofread your work, you can use check-in-check-out editing, or if you’re not feeling quite so daring, inline comments. While it may seem a little iffy to hand your entire document over to somebody else, don’t worry—if they’ve been idle for over 60 seconds, you get it back.  But what if they change everything and you want a previous version? No problem! That’s where the timeline comes in.
  • Timeline. Collaborations would be incredibly frustrating without this feature. Luckily, Editorially does an amazing job with this. After each autosave, a new version of the document is created. You can compare versions and choose whichever one you’d like to work on.
  • Screen shot 2014-02-20 at 1.06.49 AMExport options. Since Editorially was meant to be a tool used for online writing, it comes as no surprise that the product would offer something as simple as exporting options. What’s great about it, however, is that you can get so very many different choices. The picture on the left shows all of the choices offered.

 

Constraints

Though Editorially doesn’t offer much, with what it does offer, it does it well. There were only a few constraints I noticed as I went through the site.

  • Screen shot 2014-02-20 at 1.05.09 AM

    Collaboration. Yes, collaboration itself is a brilliant idea. But Editorially doesn’t necessarily execute it to its fullest potential. Only one person can edit at a time. And while this may not seem like such a big deal, many of us are used to Google Docs allowing for everyone to work at the same time. Once you give over control to another person, you can’t get it back unless they go idle for 60 seconds or you request permission to edit it, and by a stroke of luck they let you have it back. The popup displays at the top of the screen, but if a person is focused on the document, then it’s easy to overlook. When my friend and I were experimenting with the product, I completely missed the request.

  • Lack of customization. I understand that Editorially wants you to focus on the writing instead of formatting, but there needs to be a little bit more than a few sets of headers and italicizing. If you want to format your document, this will need to be done elsewhere.
  • Editorially will shut down on May 30. Figured I’d save the biggest one for last. Yes, Editorially is shutting down on May 30. The company didn’t become as successful as they’d hoped, so they’re pulling the product completely. Up until the end of May, it will continue to work, but the company has said that they can’t be responsible for any software issues between then and now. So use at your own risk.

 

Conclusion

Editorially was the little software product that could, and it’s a shame that they’ll be closing their doors come May 30. When I did some research online about the product, I could only find really positive reviews. Bloggers all over the world fell in love with Editorially; they loved that it was a tool made for them, people who were writing online content. It still is an excellent product, and until it shuts down forever, I suggest you give it a try. Just be sure to export your document. 


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