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4/27/2010
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Jake Widman
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TextFlow Comes To Desktop

Nordic River has released a desktop version of its document comparison software TextFlow, previously available only as an application within Box.net. TextFlow makes it easy for businesses to manage the process of collaborating on a document.

Nordic River has released a desktop version of its document comparison software TextFlow, previously available only as an application within Box.net. TextFlow makes it easy for businesses to manage the process of collaborating on a document.Back in February, when I first saw TextFlow as an application available with the Box.net Cloud Content Management system, I was impressed with the way it handled comparing two or more versions of a document, highlighting the differences between them, and enabling a reviewer to choose which edits to keep and which to discard. Its functionality goes way beyond that of Microsoft Word's Track Changes feature, which gets very clumsy if there are more than two people collaborating. Back in February, I wrote, "It is, frankly the easiest way to review multiple edits to the same text and reconcile them that I've ever used -- and I've had jobs where that was my main task."

Now that functionality has come to the desktop in the form of an Adobe Air TextFlow application. With TextFlow Desktop, you open two or more versions of a document; the application uploads them to Nordic River's servers, which uses the company's WeaveSync technology to prepare a combined version with changes highlighted. As with the Box.net application, the reviewer then goes through the changes, accepting, rejecting, or combining them as desired.

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In addition to being a standalone application, TextFlow Desktop also sees the addition of a useful new feature (which the Box.net version gets as well). The earlier version discarded images and tables during the merging process, requiring the reviewer to rebuild the layout afterwards. The new version maintains those elements, displaying them as thumbnails during the review process and then restoring them when the combined document is saved. "By freeing the user to focus on changes to the text while storing layout, images and tables, it gives the power to make and visualize changes in content without losing format work," said Nordic River CEO Tomer Shalit.

TextFlow screen shot

TextFlow Desktop, an Adobe Air application, provides an easy and flexible ways to manage edits from multiple collaborators.

TextFlow Desktop is available for $99, with a 14-day free trial. Using the standalone app means a company has to come up with its own way of tracking revisions, which is automatically handled by Box.net with the online version. You can use the TextFlow Desktop with documents on Box.net and save some money (the Box.net app costs $99/year/seat in addition to the Box.net subscription), but the online version is better integrated into the content management workflow and gets automatic upgrades, while there will be a cost for upgrades to the desktop version. Basically, SMBs with light document comparison needs and either few files to track or an existing way of tracking them will probably find TextFlow Desktop handles their tasks fine, while those with heftier content management needs will be better served by the Box.net package.

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