Despite the frequent mention of Dropbox — and its acquisition spree — on these pages, somehow I completely missed the announcement last week that Dropbox acquired Hackpad, a co-editor tool something like Quip (see Quip 1.5 adds new features, but not the ones I want), Draft (see Draft is a small and simple co-editor), or Editorially (that recently shut down, see Editorially is the co-editing solution of my dreams).
Unlike some of the other Dropbox acquisitions, like Loom, Hackpad is not being shut down. This is not a pure acqui-hire, so I logged in. Turns out I have tried using the tool a few years ago, but I don’t remember doing so. Now I wish I had keep the company in my sights, because it offers a broad and clever set of co-editing capabilities, and integrated into a very well-designed and sophisticated approach to sharing.
from How to use Hackpad:
A Pad is an editable content page.A Collection is a label you can use with your team to stay organized. Click the name of any collection to see a full list of that Collection’s Pads.A Workspace is a place where you and your teammates can share knowledge and collaborate.
- Each Workspace has it’s own Collections and Pads. Easily create a new Workspace by clicking “+ new workspace” at the the bottom of the workspace navigator pane.
- You can easily identify what Workspace you’re in by glancing at the URL of your page – i.e team.hackpad.com is the Team Workspace.A Workspace Member has access to all Pads in a workspace set to “all workspace users”. You can add a Member to a workspace by asking an Admin to use the “Manage this Workspace” link found on your homepage.A Pad Guest is invited from the right side of any Pad. If this person has not been invited to join a Private site as a Member, they will have access only to this single Pad. If they have been invited to a Public Site, they will have read and write access to all of a Workspace’s Pads, just like any member of the public.
I’ve started to dig into Hackpad, and there are capabilities something like wikis — any text in a pad can be selected and used as the title of another pad, and the original text then serves as a link to the child pad. This can also be accomplished by typing an ampersand and then some text, as shown here:
The text in the pads can be styled in many obvious ways, including means to add tasks, comments, lists, indented text, tables, embedded files, and images, and all the while Hackpad is tracking changes so that earlier versions can be pulled up. Lines that are bolded serve as headings, and are displayed in the right hand margin as navigation to various locations in the document. Here’s a hackpad:
The talk balloon accompanies comments added to the text (using the comment icon in the tool bar or starting a line with ‘//’ makes a comment).
When shared documents are edited, you get an email showing the changes:
Making a Switch
Hackpad is extremely rich, and it will take me some time experimenting with it to test all of its numerous features. More importantly, I have grown weary of the limitations of Workflowy, a personal information management tool I’ve been using for some time, especially with regard to text styling (see Small pieces, even more loosely joined).
Workflowy is an extensible outline, where sections can be shared with others. However, the sharing is based on a branch in the outline and all subordinate information, and not just a single line, which becomes impractical for many of the information I’d like to share.
I am going undertake a recasting of the research information I have been accumulating in Workflowy into a publicly shared Hackpad workspace (read only!), open to anyone who is interested. Also, in parallel, I am going to investigate how Hackpad might fit into the work of my Gigaom structured research activities, such as interviews, report drafts, and the like. So, this may serve as a the first of a series of posts investigating Hackpad’s applicability to various use cases, like sharing a research repository, drafting reports, and keeping track of notes from meetings and calls.