Summary:

Remote document review can be challenging: Emailing a document to your colleagues or clients,getting their comments back, trying to collate them into one master document. It’s all very messy. ActiveWords is an online tool that aims to do away with those complexities.

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I don’t know about you, but as a remote worker, I find coordinating a document review challenging: emailing a document to your colleagues or clients, getting their comments back over email, trying to collate them into one master document, then struggling to keep track of which is the most up-to-date version. It’s all very messy. Agilewords is an online tool that aims to do away with those complexities — for Microsoft Word documents, at least.

To get going, you upload a document, determine the subdomain you’ll use for your workspace (so you could have webworkerdaily.agilewords.com, for example) and provide a username and password. You’ll then be taken to an online version of your document; I’ve tried uploading a few, and Agileword’s rendering seems to be pretty accurate. You can edit the text directly by selecting  a paragraph and hitting the “Edit” button on the left, and add comments by selecting a paragraph or highlighting some words and hitting the “Comment” button on the right. There’s a large “Invite” button at the top of the screen to invite your colleagues to review the document; you also get to specify their access level as “author” (can edit the document and add comments) or “reviewer” (can only add comments).

Comments and changes are marked in the document as color-coded highlights, so you can see at a glance who commented or edited what, with little tabs on the right of the document that you can click on to get more detail. Comments are also listed on the right of the screen, and clicking a comment there will highlight its position in the document, and also bring up a little overlay window with a discussion thread, where you can also add your own comments. With edited text, you can hit a button marked “show diff” in the overlay window, which highlights the changed words in that paragraph.

Agilewords isn’t quite as powerful as Redliner, a similar editing tool I reviewed a while ago, particularly when it comes to things like accepting or rejecting changes. However, it works well, and because it’s fairly simple and well designed, its interface is intuitive and really easy to get to grips with, which is important if you’re likely to want to send documents to less tech-savvy members of your team. It also has some neat additional features, like the ability to set a review deadline. I should note that from my testing it does appear updates aren’t quite real-time: if you add a comment it won’t necessarily instantly appear on everyone’s else’s version of the document.

Agilewords is currently free for a limited time (the company is considering adding subscription charges in the future). The app only works with Word documents.

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