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Comments Encouraged

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I’m writing this blog post on SkyDrive. I’m not just doing this because I started at home and I’m finishing in the office. I’m doing this because the people on my team have strong opinions and I’m encouraged to listen.

So I want to send this post to a group of people to get their feedback on what I’ve said here. Years ago I would have written this and sent it as an attachment in an email. But doing that now makes my life unnecessarily unpleasant.

To start with, everyone may not be able to open the attachment. Honestly this isn’t a huge concern where I work. The Word team is just downstairs from my office. But even so there are always a few folks in the middle of trying a new build or with various other reasons for not having Word installed. I bet this is true for a lot of you as well.

Also, once folks are done, what do I have to work with? Dozen of emails with assorted versions of my original attachment. Ugh.

But I’m not going to send out an attachment. I’m just going to send this link…

That link will take folks to this document on SkyDrive and allow them to add comments directly to the document. All they’ll need is a browser. I don’t even need to mess with permissions. Anyone with the link can comment and edit. (Please note that the link here is included for illustrative purposes and actually only allows viewing.)

I got that link by going here…

File Menu Share

And using this…

Get a link

I sent the link to my team mates and this is what happened. Lots of constructive feedback…

Document with comments

All these comments are stored in the document. If I open it in the Word desktop client, they’ll be there. If I save the file to my local hard drive, the comments will still be there.

The folks who left me comments could have used the Word desktop client to comment but they didn’t. They used the Word Web App and our new commenting feature. To demonstrate, I’ll add the first comment. In the Word Web App viewer, I’ll open the Comments pane…

Comment pane open

Select part of the document…

Text selected

Click New Comment…

New Comment

Type something…

Adding text to comment

And click Post…

Comment selected

Note that when the comment on the right is selected, the text that it is about is also highlighted.

But when the comment isn’t selected, we don’t highlight anything so that you can easily read the document.

One issue with past implementations of commenting was the potential for clutter when comments weren’t hidden. By only highlighting selected comments this issue is largely eliminated. However, you can still see that there is a comment there because of the speech bubble in the margin of the document.

Comment not selected

Also, you can now reply to comments. That looks like this…

Comment with reply

We noted that some comments led to substantial discussion. Now that discussion is indented to separate it from unrelated comments nearby.

If I were putting together a presentation about commenting and I wanted to get feedback, I can do all the things I’ve described in PowerPoint Web App as well…

PowerPoint has the same Share experience and a very similar commenting model that includes the ability to comment on different parts of individual slides and reply to comments.

If you’d like to try this out yourself along with a lot of other great stuff, join the preview.

Nick Simons
Senior Program Manager, Office Web Apps

  1. johndonnelly

    This is awesome! Suppose you create all your blog posts and essays and other works on word and let any and all people comment and edit. There is versioning online right?

    • Nick Simons User">

      Both SkyDrive and SharePoint provide versioning for files.

      • michael.sangster

        This looks great, but more basic things like the lack of ability to select multiple cells in the excel web app on iPad currently prevent me from making the most of more advanced features like these. Touch input really needs to be more solid if you want people to use this on touch devices for more than just viewing files.

  2. Is the same possible in OneNote? In OneNote group working we lack comments.

    • Nick Simons User">

      Currently there is no commenting feature in OneNote.

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