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September 30, 2013 / carlispina

Create Documents Using Draft

I recently discovered a new option for online document creation and collaboration, Draft (thanks to Amanda L. Goodman for posting about it on Twitter!) and I think it is a nice option for those looking for an alternative to Google Docs that focuses on collaboration, editing, version control and writer-centric features.

Draft aims to make the writing process simpler. To this end, it offers a very basic layout with only a limit number of options and features. It supports adding links, footnotes, comments, radio-button todo lists and images to your documents. As you are writing, you can designate drafts at different points in your writing process with the click of a link, which allows you to run a comparison between different versions of your document at a later time. Edits, whether between two drafts you have created or as submitted by a collaborator, can be displayed side-by-side with the current in a column layout, making it easy to choose which changes or comments to keep. Documents can be created in Draft or you can import documents from your computer or another application such as Google Docs, Evernote, or Dropbox. Similarly, finished documents can be exported as text, markdown, HTML, .docx, Google Docs or .mobi files. As an added benefit, Draft also offers some fun, writer-focused features, such as the optional “Hemingway mode” which doesn’t let you edit your work until you have finished it.

Asking collaborators or others to edit your work is also quick in Draft. You can share a document via URL or by emailing your collaborators, either of which will allow them to submit comments on your work. You will also get an email alerting you when they have finished their edits. As an added feature that sets it apart from other similar tools, Draft includes a built in option to submit your work to professional editors for copy-editing with the option to pay $7 for fifteen minutes or $21 for forty-five minutes of review. Editors are guaranteed to be college-educated, have signed non-disclosure agreements and will turn around your edits in 24 hours or less, which makes for an interesting option for those who need occasional editorial services.

Draft also offers an option for video transcription that lets you view the video at the top of your screen while typing the transcription at the bottom. Built in buttons make it easy to move forward and backward through the video or even loop a short segment of the video while you transcribe it.  This option is available for online videos that are on YouTube or Vimeo or are MP3s or MP4s or for uploaded videos that are MP3s or MP4s. It is a unique option that makes this tool stand apart for those who frequently work on video transcription projects.

Another feature that sets Draft apart is the analytics that it offers. It automatically tracks your writing and offers graphs and statistics about which hour is your most productive and how many words you have written on each day. You can also analyze writing from another source, such as your blog, by importing an RSS feed from that other source. For those who are working on a long term project or are trying to increase their output, there is also an option to set a daily word quota for yourself, complete with optional email reminders to prompt you to make your daily count.

I found it to be easy to get started using Draft. It works much like any other text editor or word processor, though with a stripped down user interface that removes distractions. The export formats work for my purposes and it does everything you would want for simple writing projects. While I haven’t used the editorial services, they are potentially useful for those looking for an editor for small projects. If you are someone who is looking for a Google Docs alternative, Draft is worth a try.


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