Blog Post

Approver Your Documents

Our good friend and former Yahoo executive Jeffrey McManus has just launched his new company, Approver.com. A boot strapped operation, Jeffrey has build a web-based application whose sole task is to allow people to review and approve documents.

How many times have you sent an email attachment to a group of people with the intention of getting feedback on it? When I was working in big Internet companies as well as running my own business, this happened a lot and it drove me crazy every time — to the point where I’d have call a meeting (ugh) or print out a document just to get people to review a 10-slide powerpoint deck or a two-page press release…..

…… Approver.com was created to solve this problem. The idea is to provide something that’s more or less as easy to use as email attachments and let people publish documents online instead of mailing them around. Importantly, you don’t have to change the editor you work with if you don’t want (Approver.com works with uploaded files as well as documents you create in the browser).

While, I have not had a chance to play around with this tool, I do believe that there is some utility to this application. Perhaps our distributed editorial team will soon start using this as a way for documents (read articles) to get approved before going up on the respective websites. A full review will follow later, but meanwhile try it out, and tell Jeffrey what you think about the product.

15 Responses to “Approver Your Documents”

  1. hi there,

    I’m probably divulging some of my product ideas but since I’ve not producticed them for more than a year, here it is! :-)

    There are many publishing companies and I have reviewed some books for a few. They either send documents through email or let people download the documents from the publisher’s site. There is no easy way (for reviewers) to review book/articles. I’ve usually created a review document mentioning the page/line number and then commenting but I’ve always thought that this was not optimal way to do.

    Bruce Eckel pioneered reviewing books on a large scale by releasing(for free) his draft copies of his books long before they got printed. A trick he used in books like “Thinking in Java” had a hyperlink at the end of every paragraph (clicking would launch your email app referring to a particular page and paragraph number). I am not sure how Bruce collated them together for his updates, but I’m thinking that it was not so easy.

    People like Linus Torvals regularly look at changes to the linux kernel(patches) and merge(similar to merging in MS-WORD) the changes back to the original sources(head).

    Shouldn’t there be an easy way to let authors look at user reviews and merge them back to the original ? It should also be easy to recruit reviewers provided the reviewing process was easier than today.

    When I see books (from my friends’ who major in chemistry and Health), they are very content rich — text formatted in all sorts of ways, pictures, graphs, charts and I’m sure it takes a lot of time to get a good quality result. I’m sure all sorts of industries will appreciate an improvement in the time it takes to turn out books. One way is the BETA book program from pragmatic programmers(and others) but even these programs send out PDFs to the reviewers(readers).

    Isn’t there a better way ?

    BR,
    ~A

  2. Approver.com is an interesting application but like Nitin and Anthony commented – why stop at just approving – isn’t this just one feature in the document life-cycle?

    I came across another product called Live Document which offer the entire gamut of document sharing functionality (including approvals) from within Microsoft Office – no need to upload a document or convert it to HTML…I found one particular feature interesting – where document changes are automatically updated across all copies of the document…still needs some work but has a lot of potential…

  3. You can comment inline on the document in a document you share in Approver.com. Just use Microsoft Word to create your document, turn on revision marks, upload the document, and have your reviewers edit that.

    Approver.com isn’t a “word processing” application like Writely is. It’s not intended to replace the application you use today to create content (although you can edit in the browser if you like).

    Thanks for the link, Om, we’ve had a very interesting morning over on the site. :)

  4. Anthony Eden

    I’d much rather be able to collaborate rather than just review a document. Granted you can leave a comment about the document but that doesn’t compare to actually being able to comment inline on the document and have the author accept and deny changes, nor is it a replacement for a good versioning system.

    IMHO Writely has gotten closer to getting it right than anyone else, but people still seem to be hung up on word processing rather than focusing on the content.