Writeboard from 37signals
Although just a soft-launch for now, I decided to take a look at the application; especially after a thorough review by Solution Watch.
Writeboard is a web-based collaborative writing tool allowing multiple authors to go in and edit a single document. Based on that description alone, I thought of Writely but the two don't really compare. As Brian of Solution Watch mentions, 37signals has really stuck to the less-is-more mantra with this one. The feature set is sparse with no wysiwyg editor and minimal navigation. For example, you create writeboards, give them a name and share them with the URL and password you assigned the whiteboard but there's no central location for managing all your writeboards. There's not really the usual "user accounts" mentality that most site have.
One of the questions that come to mind is who is their target audience? Formatting is only possible with the use of *bold* and _italics_ markers among a few others for lists and blockquoting. There's no tables or other word-processing like features. As a result, I feel that the site is aimed at a more technical group although I do not doubt that many non-technical people will make use of the site. It'll also be used by people that need to work on certain types of documents that don't require heavy formatting.
A feature that I found confusing was the "Mark this version" button. I wasn't entirely sure why I was marking it or what I was marking it for. Perhaps different terminology would make this feature clearer; maybe something like Set as Important. Also, the purple dots beside each version could be made clearer using a more descriptive alt or title text or better yet, include a rollover that details what the dots mean (they indicate the amount of change in the document from one version to the next).
I'm also intrigued as to why you can only Export as Text. Why not RTF or Word or PDF? Export as Text leaves me with no formatting. Using the email feature did send me the writeboard in its HTML format but there was no indication as to what the email was about. The writeboard name was the subject line and the writeboard contents was the email. In fact, this could become a great way to set up e-mail newsletters (or spam but let's hope there's spam control in there).
This is a pre-release web application and the feature set is likely to change before the official launch. I'd be interested to hear how others plan to use Writeboard?