Agilewords: True Document Collaboration

Love it or hate it, no one can ignore Microsoft Office. One way or the other it manages to pop up in our lives. Even if a lot of people have found cooler alternatives in the cloud like Google Docs, a lot of businesses and most Government Offices continue to use Microsoft Office to create and edit documents.

So it’s only appropriate to use the lemons to make lemonade. Even if we can’t ditch Microsoft Office for good, we can leverage the cloud to collaborate on them. Agilewords is one such app that helps users to edit and review documents in the cloud.

Overview

Overview

Overview

Agilewords provides a simple way to share, review and approve documents with teams or clients. With Agilewords you now have a document review platform in the cloud with structured collaboration. Agilewords comes with real-time collaboration from inside the document. So you can always see what others see all the time.

Pricing

Pricing

Pricing

Unlike other web apps that beat around the bush with their premium and freemium plans, Agilewords opts for a different approach. Off the bat, we are notified that the app free for a limited time. Unlimited access to Agilewords along with SSL encryption is free for now and not for long. While this is a great way to set expectations to customers (or potential ones), a clear timeline would be really helpful.

Ease of Use

Beginning the Review

Beginning the Review

When it comes to ease of use, Agilewords is just awesome. You don’t have to sign up or login to actually use the web app. The sign up page has two options, a standard sign up form and an option to upload a Microsoft Word document and start reviewing it right away. For the purpose of this review let us try the unregistered version first and the registered version next.

Unregistered Version

Sample Documents

Sample Documents

Some of you might know that I don’t use Microsoft Office for writing and editing documents and Google Docs is the staple app for all my productivity needs. So after searching for a Word document to upload in vain, I downloaded one of mine from Google Docs in MS Word format. But, Agilewords doesn’t give evaluators a hard time in finding documents to upload. There are sample documents of various kinds to readily evaluate the app. Again, even though I had a MS Word document in hand, I chose to use a sample document, a non-disclosure agreement, for evaluation.

Error!

Error!

Oh, shoot! I think I just gave Agilewords too much credit for user friendliness. Or,did they create an illusion of being an app that can be used without going through the hassles of sign up and stuff? Well, it looks like they kinda gave an illusion. The big fat icon that says “Start Review”? is kinda misleading. There clearly is a disconnect between what they intended to say and the expectations set.  Removing that button would clear the ambiguity instantly.

Reviewing the Document

While going through the sign up process, I understood one thing – you just can’t enroll to the service without uploading a document or choosing a sample document. Rest of the sign up process is simple but requires email activation. I am not sure if the problem was with Hotmail (or is it Windows Live Hotmail?) or the Agilewords mail delivery system, I didn’t receive an activation email — not even in the junk mail. But thankfully I was able to proceed with the document review at Agilewords and I would give them the benefit of doubt at this stage.

Immediately after signing up, Agilewords takes you to the review module. Now that all documents are stored in the cloud for one significant reason — collaboration — its only natural to look for the same from Agilewords. The web app is well prepared in that front. You can invite as many people as you want to securely review and author a document.

Inviting Collaborators

Inviting Collaborators

You can choose the permission level of the invited collaborator. Just select the name of the invitee and choose if he/she can edit a document alongside you or just view them. As soon as the invitees accept your invitation, they will show up on the right side pane. Depending upon the permissions you have set, they can author the document or sit as idle spectators just offering feedback using the comments and message system.

Editing & Commenting

Editing the Document

Editing the Document

Editing the document is very simple. Hover over the section of the document that needs updation and hit Edit. Insert the changes you have in mind and save the changes. There aren’t a lot of options to format the text though! If the changes warrant a comment, add your thoughts in the comments window that shows up to the right.

Comments

Comments

Once you add a comment, it is recorded in the right pane for everyone to see. In the document, comments are beautifully and very clearly tagged and numbered.

Review Schedule

Review Schedule

From the Manage section, you can set the deadline before which the document has to be reviewed. After the deadline, invitees can’t work on the document.

Final Thoughts

Using Agilewords to review Word documents can save countless hours of back and forth emails and follow-ups. However, during the course of the review, unfortunately my computer went through a reboot. Since I didn’t receive an activation email, I was not able to login or reset the password. A lot of apps have the option to resend the activation email and such a feature would be a welcome addition.

I had to register a new account to continue with the review and this time I used a Gmail account. Curiously, I didn’t receive the activation email here either for a good hour and fifteen minutes. Despite being a decent app, Agilewords lost a couple points for the sign up and activation snafu.

Share Your Thoughts!

Like what Agilewords has to offer? Are we closer to ditch Microsoft Office for cloud based tools?


Summary

Agilewords is a simple web-based application that lets you review MS Word documents online collaboratively and receive faster group approval.

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