Document management has always been tricky, especially when you want to centrally store documents with all of their updates and revisions, and give people an easy way to collaborate on them. Wikis seem like the perfect solution, but they’re usually complicated, requiring at best HTML formatting and at worst a special markup language that you’ll have to get used to.
On the other end of the spectrum, Markdown formatting has been steadily increasing in popularity as a simple markup language to make rich formatted documents and HTML without having to use anything other than plain text and simple characters. It’s used in everything from new CMS apps to simple writing tools on the web and in native apps.
Bring the two together to create a web app that allows insanely simple editing, what have you got? Scribble, of course.
Scribble is a new take on wikis, simplifying them with a fine-tuned interface and Markdown formatting. It lets each page be formatted in a very natural way when typing and, thanks to the incredibly intuitive editor, an almost-live preview is shown right next to the text to ensure that there are no errors. Complete with the ability to add unlimited collaborators for free, and more wikis for a small price, Scribble’s a very promising app indeed.
Creating a wiki with Scribble can be done in a matter of seconds. Just enter your email and password, and you’ll immediately be sent into the app, ready to start making a wiki. Scribble populates the account with a default wiki that shows the basic functionality of the app. This can be deleted or edited as users see fit, but it comes with a homepage that demonstrates the way in which each page is formatted and allows users to edit the page and play around with the Markdown formatting.
Each wiki has a homepage that can act as a sort of central hub, with links to associated pages. If you’re using Scribble in your organisation as a way to document internal software that’s created or the best practises of using the system that others can edit, think of the homepage as the sort of portal that could be used to direct users to each appropriate page.
When the time comes to add additional pages to a Scribble-powered wiki or to edit existing ones, you’ll see Scribble’s brilliantly simple Markdown editor. It allows pages to be created and renamed and also for the content of each page to be added and altered. The editor itself is split into two columns; the editor pane resides on the right side and the preview pane on the left. One of the great things about Scribble is that it allows an almost realtime preview of the page, completely formatted. Users, when writing the content of a page, can easily glance over and ensure that the formatting is as expected and altogether just make sure that the page looks as good as possible. Don’t get me wrong, the editor isn’t ridiculously fancy and packed with all sorts of buttons to control every aspect of the page formatting, but I really don’t think it needs to be. All it requires is a solid grasp of Markdown and perfectly-formatted pages can be created easily.
What’s a wiki without the functionality to collaboratively edit pages? That’d take away the very idea of a wiki in the first place! Thankfully, Scribble excels at this. You can simply add collaborators to each wiki so that they can easily begin adding content and overall ensuring that what’s there is as accurate and useful as possible.
Scribble allows users to add as many collaborators to each wiki as they require, instead opting to charge for the number of wikis that a user can create with their account. Overall, a very interesting (and affordable) solution to those that don’t want to invest in this sort of tool just yet.
I was very pleasantly surprised with Scribble as a whole. From the outside, it looked incredibly simple and too good to be true. So when I used the app for the first time and realised that it is just that, I was quite happy with it. One of the things I love about this app in particular is that it doesn’t over-complicate anything. Users aren’t bombarded with tours showing how to use the app before they can get started; it’s simple enough to just get started without really knowing anything special. The fact that Scribble encourages users just to play around and doesn’t provide any documentation whatsoever allows its simplistic element to really stand out. In short, if you’re after a solution that’s user-friendly, affordable and ridiculously simple, Scribble may be the answer to your prayers.
If I could change anything about the app, however, it would be a couple of small things. First, it would be nice for users to have access to a pop-up Markdown reference. As much as I love it, I’m not perfect at remembering and using the Markdown syntax, and I imagine that for those using it for the first time, it’d be easy to get a little bit confused. No need to squash more into the design and ruin anything, but just a keyboard shortcut that shows and hides documentation when required would be very nice. Second, it could be nice for wikis to be made public. Even if only delegated users can edit, it could be a nice way to provide documentation to websites. Also, revision history could be quite useful, too, especially since that is a typically standard part of wikis.
Regardless, kudos to the developer! The app’s still great, and gets top marks from me.