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I'm looking for a tool, collection of tools and/or plugins, or even works-in-progress in this general direction, for this quite demanding (and possibly conflicting) set of requirements:

  • user friendly. This tool is to be used by not-so-technically-minded people, therefore, a simple, intuitive interface is a must.
  • real-time collaborative editing
  • 1 file format only: plain-text, multi-markdown (MMD). It must:
    • show a live preview of the document being edited
    • store the text files on specific, configurable, local network locations (as plain text, not hidden in some database). Note that this rules out things like Dropbox and Google Apps, as they store everything in their cloud, not the local network (or local cloud)
    • be highly configurable (not by normal users, but on admin level) with custom templates, CSS, etc. (that all show in the live preview of course)
  • multiple MMD files (plus "invisible" support files and scripts) constitute a single document (so things like tabs, local project files, etc. would be useful)
  • usable online or offline, with minimal synchronization issues when users re-connect after having been working offline for a couple of days.
  • intermediate versions of the document should be "taggable", much like a commit message (SVN or git integration would be a good option). These tags are to be used to generate some text in the final document and should therefore always remain editable, but always preserve their link to the specific snapshot of the MMD file(s).
  • Tags should be definable by each user.
  • Reverting everything back to a specific tags should
    • be no more than a few clicks
    • take into account "unfinished" work (stuff added between two tags) of other users.
  • Have a plugin system to allow for extensions/modifications of the program's behavior
  • Windows, Mac, Linux, ...browser-based would definitely be acceptable.
  • infinite undo (that is ideally also preserved after closing the tool and re-opening it, perhaps even on a different PC)
  • commercial or open source doesn't matter much. I prefer open source of course (with LGPL or equivalent), but commercial is also an option.

So far it would seem that Etherpad comes closest, but I can't find plugins/projects/etc. to cover many things on this list (for example, MMD support with live previews, or the "tagging" part).

In other words, it would probably have to be made largely from scratch...Or are there some things I have overlooked?

  • I think Prose Mirror is going to be part of the solution here, but it needs wrapping in an app (perhaps an ownCloud plugin) to make it really useful and cover all your points beyond the collaborative Markdown editing part. – Caleb Jan 8 '16 at 15:36
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I would recommend Atom. Probably any other professional text editor will work, too (e.g. Visual Code).

It fits to most of your requirements:

  • definitly user friendly
  • real-time collaboration with teletype
  • Markdown Support - as MMD is a subset of Markdown, MMD is supported, too.
  • Live Preview, e.g. with Markdown Preview Plus
  • store your files anywhere you want
  • highly configurable, custom templates, CSS
  • you should be able to hide the configuration from user by the default methods of your Operation System
  • very good integration of git to tag your intermediate versions of the document
  • Reverting everything back is very easy with git and the GUI intergrations in Atom
  • with git merge it is easy to keep track of any changes between two tags
  • tons of plugins are available
  • Windows, Mac, Linux
  • open source

So, do I miss anything? Ok, Atom doesn't provide an online version, but as far as I understand your post, an online version would be nice, but optional.

Atom (or probably any other professional text editor) is really a great option for what you want to achieve. Set up a git repository, so your users can connect to it and voilà - there you have it!

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