Archive for the ‘plutext’ Category

How to try Plutext for yourself

March 3rd, 2009 by Jason

Here is a screencast which walks you through sharing your own document, and trying our collaboration features:

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

Of course, you can just play with one of the pre-existing shared documents.

The video width is 1280 pixels, so if you are browsing in a narrow window, you’ll need to expand your browser window to see it properly.  (Everybody has screens that wide these days don’t they, unless they are mobile?)

For completeness:

Plutext collaboration for Word: new features

March 2nd, 2009 by Jason

We’ve just published a new build of the Word Add-In, which among other things, supports replication between users of images and comments.

For a good while now, with Plutext you’ve been able to be in a Word document at the same time as your co-workers – provided all you were doing was working on tables and paragraphs (editing them, inserting, deleting or moving them around).

With this latest release, you can add images and Word comments, and have them replicate properly between Word 2007 users.

Here is a screencast of this in action:

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

If you want to play with this yourself, you can download our Word Add-In and give it a shot!

For username & password, please see here. The password is “tester”.

For detailed instructions, see this PDF, or this earlier screencast.

If you’d like to chat about your own Plutext installation, please contact us using this form.

Microsoft’s “Office Web” announcement.

October 28th, 2008 by Jason

Well, the announcement happened, and its vaporware.

Microsoft’s anouncement is that you will be able to “create, edit and collaborate” on Office documents using your web browser (IE, Firefox, or Safari), but not until Office 14.

Office 14 is expected late 2009 or 2010. So if you wait for Microsoft to deliver Office 14 – and your IT department to roll it out – before you start collaborating in Word, count on waiting until 2011. They didn’t tell you you can get started now, using Plutext and Word 2007 :-)

That’s the only real surprise.

There were no surprises re:

  • Technology – Office Web uses Silverlight (or AJAX)
  • Delivery model – you need Sharepoint or Office Live Workspace to host the service
  • Pricing – it is available as a hosted subscription service or through existing volume licensing agreements

It is interesting to see that their collaboration stuff seems to work on a synch-every-few-seconds model (like Google Docs) in OneNote, but in Word the user has to explicitly synch.  I’ll blog in another post why this is the correct design decision.

What happens if you go offline? This probably depends on underlying support for offline in Silverlight.

Plutext walkthrough

October 20th, 2008 by Jason

PlutextWalkthrough (PDF) is a step by step guide to collaborating on a Word document using Plutext.

It contains more or less the same information as my last blog post, but in a format which allows you to avoid the videos.

Collaboration in Word – ready for alpha testing

October 1st, 2008 by Jason

Plutext enables everyone on your team to make changes in Word, at the same time (ie it lets you collaborate just as you can in Google Docs, but in your familiar Word environment, with formatting, change tracking etc).

Here is a short screencast of the gist of it:

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

If you are working on legal documents, government reports, or other formal deliverables you’ll probably want to make the process more structured.  Here is an excerpt from an old screencast showing our features for lawyers and others requiring accountability:

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If you want to give it a try, the easiest way to try it out is to download our Word 2007 add-in, then fire up Word and login to the “public0902” group with these “tester” settings (on Word’s review ribbon, click our “File” button, then Settings), using password “tester”:

Click to enlarge

then open an existing document (from the Plutext “File” button on the Review ribbon).

You can get a colleague to work with you on a document. Or you can simulate collaboration simply by opening the document twice on your PC (which is what I’ve done in the screencasts above).

Right now, you need Word 2007.  Next week, we’ll release an updated build of our cross-platform client which you can try.

This video shows you how to add your own document to the public space (or your private space):

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

But be careful, anyone else can see the documents if you just use the “public” group.

If you’d like a little privacy, you can setup a space of your own on our test server.

We’d love to know what you think, either in the comments, or our forums, or privately (

Please report problems with the Word add-in here, and server problems here.  Thanks.

Naturally, there are a few limitations in this alpha, including:

  • the Audit function doesn’t like bookmarks
  • adding an image won’t work

Finally, if you want to uninstall the Word add-in, you can do this from Window’s add/remove programs in the usual way.

“Document locked” – never again!

July 14th, 2008 by Jason

Last Thursday I demo’d our Plutext collaboration system to an audience of lawyers and legal technologists and some old friends at the Victorian Society for Computers & the Law’s Legal Technology Conference 2008.

The accompanying presentation is here (pdf).

Our approach to collaboration means you will never be told your document is locked or checked out by someone else.

This in itself is a great step forward for many long-suffering users of traditional document management systems.

I’m collecting screenshots of locked / checked-out messages from different document management systems.  So next time this happens to you, please email it to me.  I’m jason, that’s at  Thanks.

Document Collaboration – Magic Quadrant

February 25th, 2008 by Jason

In comment 18 to comment of the day “Google Docs is Chock Full of Fail” by Karim on Read/Write web, Bernard Lunn says:

if you drew a magic quadrant with “control over presentation/formatting” on one axis and “rapid online collaboration” on the other, neither MS Office or GOOG Apps would be in the magic quadrant

That’s precisely the quadrant we’re aiming for with plutext. We still have a way to go :)

Anonymous comment 4 to Scoble’s contribution to the debate also articulates our reason for being:

I’ve found Google Docs is great for collaborative editing. Once everyone’s done editing then it’s up to someone to take the Google Docs version and properly format the doc using a desktop word processor.

Based on this observation, Google needs to completely clone a desktop word processor or focus on perfecting collaboration

VMware appliance lands

February 21st, 2008 by Jason

Well, the VMware appliance is mentioned in my last post is now available.

Its a great way for prospective developers to examine docx4all, and also an easy way for people to work on Alfresco.

The appliance is built around Ubuntu’s JeOS (‘Just enough Operating System’), and Eclipse, which also means a desktop (for which we chose Xfce).

A stack of pre-built open source software delivered as an appliance which runs in a free container (eg VMware Server or Player) on your operating system of choice reduces to pretty much zero the cost for new developers to get started.

Its a pity we can’t deliver a similar appliance for developers wanting to work on our Word 2007 add-in – developers need Visual Studio, VSTO and Word 2007;  it would be great if Microsoft gave their blessing to a freely downloadable virtual appliance which contained these things (perhaps they could ensure that the only way you could launch Word was by running your application from Visual Studio).

That’s why I didn’t mention plutext-server in the second paragraph (even though you can install it into Alfresco with a single command).  Currently, you really need the Word 2007 add-in to work with plutext-server.  The barriers to entry for plutext client developers are one of the reasons we’re working to make docx4all a fully functioning plutext-client.  Stay tuned!  In the meantime, we’ll provide an easy installer for the Word 2007 add-in, so at least you can try the system end-to-end – provided you’ve got Word 2007.

Plutext-server is now packaged as an Alfresco AMP module

February 10th, 2008 by Jason

With the Alfresco show-stoppers now behind us, we’ve packaged plutext-server as an Alfresco Module Package (AMP). The idea is that in due course, it will be easy to deploy plutext-server into an existing Alfresco implementation. See Integrating plutext-server into Alfresco for details.  Given that we’re going down the Alfresco road, we now also have a project on the Alfresco forge.  Mostly, that will direct existing Alfresco users here.

At the moment, it is still too hard to try out plutext:

  • You have to build your own plutext-server, because there is no web-based user self registration for our test server.  This will change in the next fortnight.
  • Building your own plutext-server isn’t too hard if you are a Java developer, but we’ll make that easier as well.  We’re building a VMware appliance which you’ll be able to download, which contains a preconfigured development environment.  Unless you are really keen, you may as well wait for that.
  • Currently, you have to build a Word 2007 add-in to interact with the plutext server.  Soon this will be a downloadable executable.

So that’s the agenda for the next couple of weeks.  Cheers!

Plutext docx collaboration under Alfresco

January 26th, 2008 by Jason

Twelve days ago, I checked out Alfresco.

I thought Alfresco would be a good way to get access control sorted out. There are a number of other features in Alfresco which might prove interesting down the track, but access control was the immediate priority. Alfresco provides each user with a home directory, and lets invite other people to access their resources.

I also think that plutext-style document collaboration would be a great fit for many of Alfresco’s customers. Like most other document management systems, Alfresco uses the classic check-out/check-in model (detested by users the world over!). plutext collaboration frees users from that paradigm.

By Monday, a week in, plutext was basically working with Alfresco. This included the Word 2007 add-in authenticating itself when it makes web service calls (something I hadn’t implemented before). I found a few little bugs in Alfresco which I reported (here and here), but everything was going remarkably smoothly.

Sweet, I thought I’d have a relaxed Tuesday, checking the code in, updating the build and wiki, before declaring success in a blog post.

Well, that wasn’t to be. It turns out there are some major issues (here and here) with Alfresco’s JCR support and/or repository which need to be resolved. Its not so easy to identify simple test cases, since they seem to arise when a series of operations are performed in one session after another, and manifest themselves sometime later, but at least the problems are repeatable.

Hopefully the Alfresco guys will get onto these problems quickly. Otherwise I will have to learn more about Alfresco internals and its use of Hibernate than I’d care to!

Early next week (a week later than I expected) I will update the build procedures so you can easily build it for Alfresco, and then I’ll make sure it works with Jackrabbit again (we’d like to have a single content model that works for both repositories – more on that later).

If we can make good headway with the issues in Alfresco over the next week, we’ll probably regard that as our flagship configuration. If not, I’ll take another look at building access control around Jackrabbit. Although Jackrabbit lacks Alfresco’s bells and whistles, my experience with it (in the single user load scenarios which are causing Alfreco problems) was trouble free. That’s not to say I expect it to be perfect under heavy load, but it sounds very promising based on what Jukka wrote recently following the announcement of version 1.4.