Collaborative writing is an exercise in group creativity, where a work is authored by multiple people putting their heads together. It can be a richly rewarding and learning experience, combining and exchanging the creative ideas of different minds to create a single masterpiece. However, collaborative work can be complex and requires the right tools and organization to succeed. This is where TowerBabel enters the picture.
The vision of TowerBabel was a platform tailor-made to create the best collaborative experience possible, using the most modern web technologies to achieve it. It had to be both a rich collaborative writing tool as well as offer a great reading experience for those who don’t write. Flowloop provided design, strategy, and engineering for the website.
From reading to writing, users do everything on TowerBabel. A platform like this has to feel like an app rather than just a website, so we created rich, interactive, interfaces that made doing tasks feel just as smooth and responsive as any installed application.
Being able to import existing works was very important to help get writers started right away. We made sure that TowerBabel supported standard book formats, such as ePub and pdf.
TowerBabel attracts both book readers and writers alike, so the design and navigation had to be easy and intuitive whichever activity you are participating in.
We built a variety of tools and interfaces to enrichen the collaboration experience. These ranged from in app chat, to managing contributors, to integrating with Facebook and other social media.
The first stage in our strategy was planning out the two main functions of the website, Reading and Writing, and fleshing out their specific features. This was an involved and detailed discovery process.
On one side we had the creative writing process where we designed the collaborative model we would use to allow writers to cooperate, outlined the general structure of a written work to enable collaboration, and planned the publishing process and how it would apply with multiple contributors. On the other side we had the more straightforward readers, where the main focus was on creating the best reading and sharing experience.
A highly custom platform such as TowerBabel needed a highly flexible, versatile framework to match it. Once again, we chose Django because of our experience with its reliability, scaling, and perfomance.
We turned to the ever-reliable JQuery to do the heavy lifting for most of the animations and interactive UI elements on TowerBabel, with the help of supporting plugins and custom code snippets.
To allow true real time chat and notification functionality that could scale, we implemented a push technology solution - sending messages between server and clients instantly and minimising strain on the network.
We love working with pioneers, and TowerBabel definitely fits that description. The rapid advancement of Internet technologies has brought a variety of tools for those who have the vision to pull them together to create great solutions. While some applications have shot forward, others have lagged behind. TowerBabel has finally offered a platform that can bring the best collaborative writing experience to bear by marrying it with the best web technology available.