Coventi is a new service for online editing and collaboration of documents. I used it to create a couple of documents, it worked as billed. I could create documents, invite other people to edit them, and then see the original and subsequent revisions in a Microsoft Word-like â€œtrack changesâ€ mode.
The editing features were pretty primitive but I would expect them to add more capabilities as the service matures. Table editing would be high on my priority list.
A couple of interesting features were the â€œcommentâ€ and â€œsuggest editâ€ sidebar conversations. In theory, you can select text and then add a comment in the sidebar that resembles threaded forum conversations. I say in theory because I couldnâ€™t get it to work. I think the comments sidebar is a useful component, I would like the option to have it configure it as a floating pop-up like how Google Talk works.
Speaking of things not working, Coventi supports Firefox but when I tried to run it from Camino it said it was an unsupported browser. If it runs in Firefox it should run in Camino.
There is a built-in address book, which is used to invite other people to collaborate on documents, but I really wish there was a way to integrate other address books into services (not just this one either). I already have an address book, would prefer that apps like this take advantage of that for contact data… of course, this is something that Teqlo is designed for!
I could upload draft documents in either Word or OpenDocument formats, and I could export documents in a range of formats, including PDF. Bulk uploading would be welcome, as would a file explorer type browser with document preview mode. I successfully imported some complex documents, but not others, in which case there was a helpful â€œmay we inspect your document to diagnose the problemâ€ interaction. Importing PDF documents would be a really nice feature.
The last thing I would bring up is that itâ€™s pretty difficult for a service like this to break away from the pack when the feature set they are offering is functionally equivalent to what other more established services are offering. I donâ€™t have the benefit of hearing what they have in store, and would certainly welcome that, but at this point I am left to wonder what the business model could possibly be in the face of a number of free offerings that are perfectly capable.
UPDATE: I found out why the conversations sidebar didnâ€™t work… my coComment Firefox extension was interfering with it. Iâ€™ve been disabling coCommentâ€™s extension on all my computers because of problems it creates across a range of services. As much as I like that service I just canâ€™t live with how poorly executed their browser add-on is.
UPDATE 2: Dan Wilson from Coventi emailed me last night, taking my blog post on this and pasting it into a Coventi doc that he then added comments to via the conversations sidebar. It worked as billed, with coComment gone, and I was able to see 2 person doc collaboration in action. I do think that the way of tracking comments is better than Wordâ€™s â€œtrack changesâ€ mode (which can get confusing) and certainly better than Google Docs. Having said that Iâ€™m still left wondering if itâ€™s something I would actually use. A couple of things that would definitely make this a versatile tool for me would include embedding an IM widget right in the document sidebar and adding publishing options for the document (e.g. post to blog).