Write with your colleagues using this amazing open-source collaborative writing tool: Etherpad


Etherpad is a free open-source web-based real-time collaborative document editor. It's a combination of a text editor with a real-time interactive editing option.

Some may say, it's an open-source alternative for Google Docs, Zoho Docs, or Microsoft Office (Web). However, it's not. It adds a real-time video and voice chat as well as a live comment section.

It's also self-hosted which means it can be installed for servers to work as a collaborative editing platform for teams.

Etherpad also supports importing and exporting to many popular document formats: ODF (Open Document Format), Microsoft Word ".doc" format, text file, PDF and HTML. It also provides its own format "Etherpad".

Etherpad is alternative to:

  1. Google Docs
  2. Microsoft Office Online
  3. Zoho Docs
  4. Dropbox Paper

Etherpad is for:

  1. Editors
  2. Journalists
  3. Researchers
  4. Novelists
  5. Software developers
  6. Screenwriters
  7. Technical writers
  8. Bloggers


Features

Etherpad in action
  1. Libre open-source solution
  2. Self-hosted
  3. Supports Linux, macOS and Windows
  4. Complete text-editing tools
  5. Camera and audio chat support
  6. Shareable link
  7. Shareable embedded code
  8. Extensible through plugins
  9. Themeable with a skin builder
  10. Chat support
  11. Full-featured editor
  12. One-file settings
  13. Plugins rich
  14. Default-font set
  15. Line numbers
  16. Import and export options
  17. Comments support for the selected section
  18. Suggested edits for comments section
  19. Revision with a time-slider option
  20. Support exporting to PDF, HTML, ODF (Open Document Format), Microsoft Word, text file, and Etherpad format.
  21. HTTP API support
  22. Embeddable text Pads into any website with a jQuery plugin
  23. Developer-friendly plugin framework
  24. Supports dozens of languages (105 languages)
  25. Revision support with custom save for certain revisions

Etherpad Plugins

Extending Etherpad functionalities is available through dozens of plugins (>50 plugins). Here is some of useful plugins in Etherpad plugins directory:

  1. Email notification
  2. Sub and superscript plugin
  3. Drawing canvas
  4. Copy and paste images
  5. Spellcheck
  6. Font family and font size plugins
  7. Comments page
  8. TOC (Table of Contents) plugin
  9. Webhooks extension
  10. Extended Statistics plugin
  11. Message all users
  12. LDAP authentication
  13. LaTeX support extension
  14. Markdown
  15. Auto links
  16. Many table plugins
  17. Audio upload
  18. Images upload
  19. Video upload
  20. Full-screen mode plugin
  21. OAuth2 extension
  22. Readability index extension
  23. Printer plugin
  24. Line-breaks extension
  25. Signature plugin

Installation

Hence, Etherpad is built with JavaScript and NodeJS. It requires NodeJS and NPM (Node Package Manager) to install and run.

Requirements

  1. Git
  2. NodeJS >= 10.13.0

Install on Linux (Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora and openSUSE)

Installation on Linux is simple thru an installation shell script.

git clone --branch master https://github.com/ether/etherpad-lite.git && cd etherpad-lite && bin/run.sh

After the installtion process is complete, open this address in your web browser: http://127.0.0.1:9001

Install on Arch Linux and Manjaro

For Arch Linux and Manjaro users Etherpad is available as AUR package. At Manjaro where it's my default desktop right now, It requires one click to install in Manjaro software center.

Install on Windows

Windows installation is simplified with a Windows package that contains a batch script to automated and finalizes the installation "start.bat". Running "start.ba" starts the installation process. Soon as it's finished browse to http://127.0.0.1:9001  and start using Etherpad.

Install Etherpad plugins

Installing a new plugin for Etherpad is simple through one command. The plugins are added as NPM package and require NPM to install:

Install plugins

cd etherpad-lite

npm install ep_headings2 ep_markdown ep_comments_page ep_align ep_page_view ep_font_color ep_webrtc ep_embedded_hyperlinks2

npm install ep_<plugin name>

Uninstall plugin

npm uninstall ep_<plugin name>

Plugins are available for admins, however, they require activation for Etherpad admin interface.

License

Eatherpad is released as an open-source under Apache License V2.0.

src, GitHub

Conclusion

For collaborative writing, Etherpad is a perfect solution for teams. It offers dozens of useful features like revisions, importing and exporting as well as real-time editing. It's also packed with real-time video and audio chat so teams don't need to use extra tools to communicate while working on their shared writing project.

Due to it's real-time editing feature, It can be a great tool to mentor young writers especially when the comments section contains a suggested edit field.  

Resources

  1. https://etherpad.org/
  2. GitHub: https://github.com/ether/etherpad-lite
  3. Plugins: https://static.etherpad.org/
  4. _
  5. Photo by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash





Hamza Mu Author: Hamza Mu

A physician with programming skills, Linux user since late 1990s, Open source supporter. Coding with Python, NodeJS (Meteor, VueJS, Express, D3, PhantomJS), SmallTalk & R language.





Read more