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Chapter 5. Collaborative Writing and the... > Technology Support for Drafting, Dis...

Technology Support for Drafting, Distribution, Revision

In addition to using technology to communicate about the content of their document, the HRP Systems team made extensive use of technology to support the process of distributing drafts, commenting on them, and revising and editing them. When Adrian had suggested to the team that they use the telephone and e-mail as much as possible during the course of the writing process, they had also made some other important decisions. First, everyone on the team used the same word processing software to write their portions. Second, they all agreed to use the functions of the software to facilitate the collaborative process. Third, they all agreed on a standard way to name their files so that it would be easier to keep track of the various parts and versions of the document.

The decision that all team members use the same word processing software, even though seemingly straightforward, was an important one. Although most modern, full-function word processors can read files created with other word processing software, text formatting may be lost or seriously altered in the process. Most formatting can be saved when transferring documents between word processors by saving the file as a “Rich Text Format” (RTF) file, but it is likely that some formatting will be lost. Just as important, the advanced features to support collaboration (discussed later), although offered in various software packages, are not compatible across different word processors. To use these features, it was imperative that everyone on the team use the same software.


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