The to-do list has gotten Asana, the calendar has gotten Fantastical, and the inbox has gotten Mailbox, but nobody has made a word processor for this decade apart from the traditional players like Microsoft that has tried its luck in this area.
Let’s make room for the introduction of DRAFT which is launching today to solve major problems with Google Docs and many other word processors available today.
Draft offers clean saves of drafts instead of the usual autosave jumble, clear version control between multiple users, easy importing from popular file services like Dropbox and Evernote, and something pretty unique — an editing service.
Built by one-man Y Combinator team Nathan Kontny (previously the cofounder of Inkling and Cityposh), the web app puts solo writing first. Its interface makes a point of looking nice, with the words you write appearing in large, plain-text font on a light-gray background.
There’s the usual autosave feature that any serious online word processor has, but it also provides a manual “mark draft” button at the top-right corner, because serious writing happens in stages.
Hit the button at any good midpoint and you’ll create a series of drafts that you can easily compare against each other. Let’s say I saved four drafts when writing this story. I can click on “4 drafts” at the top right and see panes for the current draft, as well as each previous one. If you scroll to the left, you can look through each one to see your major revisions as you progressed.
And if you share the link with other users, they can come in and edit. As with your own saved drafts, you can click into the Drafts view to see red background and line-outs on edited text and green on any additions. You can choose to accept newer versions or revert to previous ones. Handily, you can edit your current draft when making side-by-side comparisons with previous ones.
Pause and consider what Draft is trying to be — or not. It’s not bothering with all the formatting and layout options in Microsoft Word, and it’s not trying to play the middle ground like Google Docs. It’s just trying to be the best way you actually write before you publish somewhere else.
To that end, it already lets you import docs from Dropbox, Evernote, Box and Google Drive itself. Once connected, these docs will automatically sync back to their home services.
A revenue line is also visible for Draft in these early stages of its existence: the editing service. It’s designed for serious individual bloggers or any organization without copy editors. Kontny is sourcing qualified editors to handle copy and as much content-oriented editing as the user wants. Fees vary, and users are offered a satisfaction guarantee. Editor revisions appear as distinct panes that the author can accept, same as any other draft.
If Draft can establish itself as the main place where writing happens, you could see it offering an API that lets larger news organizations pull in finished documents to their own workflow and publishing tools. This i think should be one cool feature companies like pctech magazine can also look into.