How do you go from 5 authors to 47, all collaborating on the same documentation? This is the issue Anne Gentle wrestles with in her post Collaborative Authoring -- Tools and Costs. She explores everything from Author-it Live to Drupal, Mediawiki, Alfresco, and SharePoint, including cost breakdowns for each tool.
Anne also cites research from Forrester about the rising trend of collaborative authoring:
37% of organizations surveyed in Forrester's Q4 2008 enterprise and SMB software survey consider implementing a collaboration strategy important in 2009
I think collaborative authoring will continue to grow in the future. Large, expensive solutions may give way to more popular, open-source options. As more groups adopt open-source solutions, the open-source solutions will become stronger. Any time you have thousands of developers and users behind a platform, they create a surge of extensions and themes, hacks and tutorials, enhancements and workarounds.
No single project team can compete with the collective contributions of thousands of developers on a global scale. And just maybe -- here's a thought -- the best platforms for collaborative authoring are those platforms that are collaboratively constructed themselves.
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I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. Topics I write about on this blog include technical writing, authoring and publishing tools, API documentation, tech comm trends, visual communication, technical writing career advice, information architecture and findability, developer documentation, and more. If you're a professional or aspiring technical writer, be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here. You can also contact me with questions.