Via Solid Office I found our about a new OpenDocument format based collaborative editing tool called Thoughtslinger. Free to use at least for now, but no visible means of support, I’m wondering what the business model is, maybe just get bought.

Here are my very first impressions, even before trying out the collaboration features.

I opened the paper I’ve been working on with the ICE application in Thoughtslinger (only runs on Windows so I used a virtual machine in parallels).

Look ma, no styles!


This is what it should look like, where I used styles.


We’re going to give this a go to with some of the document processing folks at USQ to see what the editing capabilities are like, but without styles it’s a stretch to say that this thing uses the OpenDocument Format and to me it’s basically no more use than Google Docs, which also doesn’t let me use my styles.

Rick Walker of Thoughtslinger sort-of acknowledges this, but I don’t really think styles are an optional extra in this kind of proposed workflow.

We believe Thoughtslinger is complementary to Writer. A team would collaboratively edit an odt file in Thoughtslinger, then use Writer for final formatting, headers, footers etc. We embraced odts because the specification is open and very clean.

In fact I’d love to see this tool ship with the ICE template, and have the buttons actually apply styles. We’re currently working on a really smart ICE toolbar along the same lines.

Oh, and there’s no undo button which is a real problem.

[UPDATE: I just read the license for Thoughtslinger. It says:

4. Restrictions

(a) You agree not to reverse engineer, decompile, disassemble or otherwise attempt to discover the source code, underlying ideas, or algorithms of the Software.

Not try to discover the underlying ideas? I work for a university! I’m deleting it.]


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