Zettelkasten Forum

Collaborative Editing Suggestions


First, suggestions for Mac tools for collaborative editing? This is a space that seems really lacking, yet shouldn't be given the tech available.

Second, is there a way to add paragraph numbers and export as a PDF? I have an editor who uses a reMarkable, and that would make things much easier.


With abandon,


  • Depending on your level of geekiness, SubEthaEdit if free and allows multiple users to type in the same document: http://subethaedit.net/

    Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/

  • Thank you, Christian. Aye, the geekiness. I max out at markup/down. I really do not understand why the collaboration via plain text space hasn't matured more. It seems ripe for the picking, but maybe it's just ripe like an unbathed old fool. Sardonic grin.

  • I will play and see how we get along.

  • edited April 2021

    If you don't need strictly realtime simultaneous editing then all parties can use git plus something like GitHub with commits and merge requests. Basically you each pull from a main repository, make updates individually, push them back to the main repo, and in the event of collisions (two people edited the same file independently) the update fails and prompts a review to resolve the differences.

    There's a lot of "geekiness" underlying it but the Github desktop app is fairly user friendly once you understand a few concepts.

  • edited April 2021

    You're right, @davecan; however Github > my geek threshold, and greatly exceeds the threshold of my editors. Kind of like me saying to most folks Saint Augustin's "Confessions" are user friendly once you understand a few concepts. Grin.

  • @DeaconPatrick I've looked into a number of options to facilitate real-time collaboration with my friends with a 'lower geek threshold'.

    Sidenote: my personal geek threshold may be slightly higher but I often think it more curse than blessing. Leads to a lot of yak shaving.

    I've had modest success with some collaborators using stackedit.

    That said, the conversation invariably leads to... "Um yeah that's cool but why can't we just use google docs?" And I observe a homily praising the sublime power of plaintext dance through my mind, wait for it to pass and say, "Okay we'll use google docs."

    @ctietze I was previously unaware of SubEthaEdit. It is very cool.

  • Oh yeah I totally get it. We have a GitHub-style capability at work and I'll bring up "we could write our policies and docs in markdown and handle updates via merge requests and this way the engineers across the org could collaborate with us more naturally and..." and then my team keeps on using Google Docs. :p

  • Thanks, all! StackEdit comes close, I agree. It also raises issues about terms of service, privacy, how protected are files, etc. Also, I distrust software that celebrates when I push its buttons, giving me "rewards."

  • @DeaconPatrick Valid concerns, particularly if the work is truly sensitive.

    FWIW, I just tested SubEthaEdit and it's straightforward. Use 'Share' to create/send a link to a collaborator (who has SubEthaEdit downloaded from App Store no less). They click the link. I click to confirm, giving them read/write permission. Boom. Editing the same doc. MIT license. Free, simple, and amazing. I'm totally going to use it.

    Anyway, wish you well with finding a solution.

  • edited April 2021

    I'm with @DeaconPatrick regarding StackEdit. I've used it for publishing GitHub style markdown files with KaTeX (if I recall) to blogger.com, but the workflow is awkward. Edits of blog posts had to be updated on blogger with the blogpost ID extracted from the post URL on blogger and filled into a dialog box in StackEdit. It will save files to Google Drive (the same file more than once, it seemed) but for collaboration I found working with Google Docs easier (read: my collaborators wouldn't use StackEdit). As for rewards, I logged back in to find that I have earned 17 badges. Frequently misquoted dialogue from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre springs to mind. I suppose StackEdit works well enough. Eventually I lost my energy and motivation fighting with it.

    GitHub markdown strikes me as less interesting than some of the alternatives, such as Bookdown. I don't know whether there are online collaboration systems that support Bookdown. Probably not (so far) and it's probably on the right tail of the geek distribution, though I'm tempted to try it.

    Post edited by ZettelDistraction on

    Erdős #2. ZK software components. “If you’re thinking without writing, you only think you’re thinking.” -- Leslie Lamport. Replies delayed, sometimes indefinitely since Life is short.

  • @DeaconPatrick Hmm there's https://draftin.com/ and @sfast used it for a book project in the past, maybe he can tell you more.

    Still depends on your book being in Markdown, which appears to be within your geek threshold :) You didn't tell if your manuscript is in plain text or if you'd be better off with Google Docs collaboration for rich text. (Which I abhor and at the same time use regularly.)

    Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/

  • Thanks, Christian. Aye, I'm a plain text lad. I abhor Goodle Docs and MS Word and Teams and Pages et al, and avoid using them wherever possible. I'll look into draftin. It has a simple look and the terms of service looks pretty good.

  • Unfortunately, Draftin and StackEdit are both in-browser editors. I quickly tried Draftin - it is slick and capable, but I don't want to use an in-browser editor and it hasn't told me the cost yet (hiding the cost until you are hooked on the interface seems like a sneaky approach and suggests the cost is high).

    SubEthaEdit seems oriented to coders - I don't see a lot of features for people who just want to write in a plain text file, such as exists (for example) in iA Writer.

  • SubEthaEdit lacks things like line-width wrapping, folding of sections, and things like that. With a larger font and if you don't mind grey, it looks servicable :grimace:

    Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/

  • Draft was annoying because some glitches of the comment placement. The second edition of the Zettelkasten Method will be edited in Google Docs.

    I am a Zettler

  • The only "price" list I found for draftin was "gift", which puts it at $4/mo or $40/year, no option to buy rather than lease. http://gifts.withdraft.com

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