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More background on building collaboration into Sway

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We’re excited to announce today that Sway is now collaborative and lets you create and edit together with others. Check out this blog post for more detail.

One of the great things about working at Microsoft is that you can build on the work of other teams. Several members of the Sway team formerly worked on Word and OneNote. We’re able to learn from that experience as well as build on some shared pieces of technology in Office. We’ve built the core collaboration infrastructure for Sway based on the co-authoring technology pioneered in OneNote several years ago, which has been lighting up across Office over the last number of years. Building on our shared technology helps us not only get these features into your hands sooner, but also addresses the really hard challenges. For example, while it is not uncommon for online editing tools to support co-authoring these days, especially tools with only basic feature sets, it is much harder to find tools that reliably support this scenario when the authors go offline.

Think about this challenge for a moment—if you can assume that everyone is online, you can send the edits to all the co-authors, and things will generally work OK if you do that with little delay. If someone goes offline, most tools drop that user and they can no longer edit. But in Office, we think that scenario is really important—who knows what the network is doing and when it will be there? When an editor goes offline though, the problem of syncing up later becomes far harder. Not only do they no longer see what others are doing, they make edits of their own—perhaps moving or deleting things others have modified, moved or deleted. This is a difficult problem, and OneNote and Word have really worked hard to ensure collaboration is seamless in the current versions. In Sway that infrastructure is there for when the day comes that we too support offline editing. (And yes, we want that!)

As you may have noticed, Office apps such as the web versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote all support real-time co-authoring and have been advancing their capabilities in this space (use them for free at office.com). Sway gets to draft off of their work, so we’re much obliged to our colleagues.

Sway team, @Sway

 

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