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In today’s collaborative professional environment, teams often need to work on documents at the same time. The Track Changes feature of MS Office works only if each reviewer updates a document and sends it to the next reviewer, but this rarely happens in real life. Instead, we end up with multiple versions of the same document with changes made by different people, and it is a painstaking task to open and scrutinize each one in turn to merge and create the final version.

CompareMyDocs comes to our rescue in such situations. You can check out their demo video in our coverage of CompareMyDocs in the MakeUseOf Directory. It might sound unbelievable, but you don’t need to sign up or even register to use this incredible web app that lets you compare documents online – just use it for free! In this article, let us consider a life-like scenario and see how it works in detail.

A Collaboration Example

Our loyal readers have been helping us test the new MakeUseOf theme Testing The New MakeUseOf Site Theme Testing The New MakeUseOf Site Theme Read More . Suppose we had an internal status report being passed around on the various tasks involved. Such a status report is a good example of real-life document collaboration. In this case, we would have Mark, our Managing Editor, send out a blank template and ask everyone to update the document with details of the status of their tasks. Earlier, there were two possible scenarios:

Scenario #1: Mark sends the document to one team member, gets an updated version back, then sends it to the next team member to get her update, and so on. Needless to say, Aibek, our Editor-In-Chief, would be fuming by the time Mark had consolidated the distributed MakeUseOf team‘s inputs.

Scenario #2: Marks sends out the document to all of us, and we all update it as soon as it’s convenient for us and send it back. Mark then opens two documents at a time in MS Word, consolidates the changes, then opens the third one. As you can imagine, with a team of over 30, Mark would spend hours in preparing a consolidated status update.

I am sure you must have encountered both these situations very often. Enter CompareMyDocs.

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In Scenario #2, Mark has multiple versions of the same document. Let’s say he has received 3 updated versions, aside from his original:

compare documents online

Uploading Documents

Mark goes to CompareMyDocs and uploads the documents. You can upload any .doc, .docx, or .rtf documents up to 7 at a time.

compare documents online

After clicking Compare, CompareMyDocs scans all document versions for changes. After a few seconds depending upon the size of the document and number of changes, the changes by each team member are shown in a different color like this:

compare documents online

Reviewing Changes

Shown on the right are all the differences in each version by different authors. Roll-over of the mouse lets you Accept, Scrap, Hide, or Reject each change. Scrapping a change turns it into a Comment or Note.

compare documents

So if Mark accepts this change as shown above, the document is updated after merging that change:

compare documents

Merging and Saving

Once Mark has finished reviewing all the changes by accepting, or rejecting them, he clicks Save on the toolbar to download the final consolidated version.

compare documents

Additional Goodies

  • CompareMyDocs supports basic editing and formatting of documents right within the browser interface.
  • An Adobe AIR based desktop version called TextFlow will be released soon, so that you can even work on multiple document versions offline.
  • The company has also launched an API for this collaborative editing functionality. It would be interesting if cloud storage services like DropBox, who support versioning, integrate with the TextFlow API.

Whether the collaboration is between students for a thesis, teachers for a curriculum, team members for a status report, or anything else you can imagine, CompareMyDocs can become an indispensable tool anywhere people collaborate on documents. You can also check out our other articles on collaboration or the free collaboration tools listed in our directory.

Will CompareMyDocs optimize your collaboration workflow? Do you think this is a unique service? Let us hear from you in the comments!

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