Why should academics use Fidus Writer?

portrait_jFidus Writer has many disadvantages in comparison to the other editors for obvious reasons – the main one being that development has just started with a tiny team, while the others have thousands of people working on them. So the options available are more limited, as least for now. But there is a reason why we started creating Fidus Writer and why there are good reasons to continue down the path we are going. Unlike the other editors, Fidus combines all the following features, of which the others only provide a limited subset:

  • online collaborative editing and commenting (like Google Docs)
  • track changes and comments (like Lyx, Libreoffice/MsWord)
  • citation management (like Lyx, Libreoffice/MsWord, Latex)
  • perfect looking PDF output* (like Lyx, Latex)
  • close to WYSIWYG (like Msword/Libreoffice, Lyx, Google Docs)
  • set up to make epub export simple (like Msword/Libreoffice, Google Docs)

*) through Latex export function Let’s look a bit at the problems with the other editors out there: Microsoft Word/Libreoffice: Standard word processors have the disadvantage that you do not get to edit semantically, and that you have to install them on your computer. If you need to work together with others, it can be quite a nightmare to send files back and forth, which means that you can have editing conflicts if several people were editing the same file at the same time. Also, the document creator who is asking for corrections/contributions from other, cannot easily control whether collaborators turn the track changes option on or off. People may just turn it off accidentally. When it comes to publishing in the form of a (good looking) journal, you generally have to convert the file, using for example Adobe Indesign. If the original authro decides that he needs to make changes after the conversion has taken place but before it has been printed, you have a problem. I myself spent summers converting contributions for the journal of Norwegian anthropology students and havign to deal with a long list of late changes which i had to incorporate manually. Google Drive Writer: Google Drive has the advantage of working collaboratively, but also it is not completely working semantically. Also, you cannot control what changes your collaborators add (no track changes feature) and you don’t have citation management available. Latex: Latex is really good when it comes to semantic editing (I have used it myself for my academic writings) and also the citation management option is superb, but you don’t have track changes or comments options. Also, it is almost impossible for non-technical users to learn. I myself am a non-native English speaker and a PhD candidate in anthropology, and it has been a nightmare trying to get supervisors or people checking the language to work with Latex. Additionally, while Latex is good for creating print output, it is not very good when it comes to Epubs for electronic reading devices. Conversion is not simple. LyX: LyX comes close to what Fidus Writer does, but it is made for offline usage, and the interface is not exactly inviting for non-technical users. It was created by developers for developers, and each new contributor seems to just have added new options to the menus. There are now a handful of different ways the user can produce a PDF, for example, yet production for epub output is still missing. I myself ended up using LyX for my own academic writings. I could convince my proof readers to use it by sitting down with them, installing the program on their machine, setting up file exchange through Dropbox and telling them to just not ever touch any of the menus. It worked, but it did not seem like a solution that would work for many others. Fidus Writer still needs to go a long way to get to the level of the other editors. But we hope that there will be enough interest out there to bring it to the next stage. If you are interested in collaborating or have thoughts on what to do with it, please drop us a line!

One thought on “Why should academics use Fidus Writer?

  1. Hi.
    Your is the best tool I’ve seen for collaborative documents!

    I’m playing with it. I am not able to see the difference (diff) in the versions. This feature exists? If yes how I can do?

    Many thanks.

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