We’re all familiar with collaborative programs, whether it be Google Drive or Evernote, but most of us are already using Dropbox to collaborate on files between our colleagues. If you work with your own virtual team, as many of us do, it’s never an easy thing to schedule your time. You could be in different time zones, or you just keep missing each others’ emails. Fortunately, Dropbox Paper is such a handy collaborative tool, that you won’t be playing email tag; you’ll be getting work done properly.
In its infancy, Dropbox Paper is more based on word processor-type documents than spreadsheets or other types of documents you may commonly share. The service is developing, but with the exceptional job they’ve done with the simple features, hanging on for the ride doesn’t aim to disappoint.
You won’t see any links between your Dropbox and Dropbox Paper files—it’s a completely different service, though you use the same credentials from your Dropbox account to access Dropbox Paper. The cool thing about this is that it doesn’t affect your Dropbox storage in any way, so if you’re using the free two gigabytes worth of storage, you won’t incur any extra usage from using Dropbox Paper.
When you sign into your Dropbox Paper page, you’ll see example sheets with information on how Dropbox Paper works, including little tidbits about their word processor-like files. The interior interface, however, once you get started on a project, will look extremely familiar. It has elements of Google Docs and Microsoft Word, at least that’s how it feels, so no matter what your preferred platform is, you’ll have some familiarity within Paper.
When you get in-depth, it’s not just a standard word processor document at all. Each chunk, or paragraph of text, are separated by tiny plus signs. When you go to the left side of the paragraph, you can use this plus sign to add features to the document, which we’ll get into in a moment. If you want to simply add text, you can click on whichever part you’d like, just like a standard word processor, and insert text as you’d like.
Adding New Elements
That little plus sign is your best friend here and makes Dropbox Paper distinct from the long line of different collaborative word processor systems that you may already be aware of. In this element, you can add some cool features.
You’ll see a horizontal bar span across the area of which your actions will affect. You can upload an image, insert files from your Dropbox account into this document, insert a table, bulleted list, numerical list, insert a divider, and insert code. For those of you working on projects which require coding, it allows you to seamlessly add code into clean paragraph elements, making it easy to read. There’s one more feature here: task lists.
A task list is an absolutely essential part of what makes Dropbox Paper the true contender here, and worthy of your time over most other collaboration systems. When you create a task list, you can assign a specific point within this list to a user. For example, if you’re the editor on a lengthy story, and you have multiple employees, you could assign one specific person to that task. They’ll be notified that they’ve been given a task on their Dropbox Paper account, and will flock to see what you’ve assigned them. This is a great way to draw attention to any issues you have with a project without having to send out a load of emails to your employees or colleagues. You’ll notice when they check off these tasks, making for quicker communication for the micro tasks within a project.
Similar to Microsoft Word, if you’re an avid user of Word, is the comment section on the righthand side of the page. You can simply click “Add Comment,” and input suggestions or commands, without having to insert anything into the document, thus ruining its integrity or formatting.
Altering Text Efficiently
Word processors are pretty straightforward. Not only can you alter the text as you normally would to any document, but when you highlight sections of text, you’re given simplistic options to better enhance your project.
If you want to add a link, you can simply select the section of text you would like to be clickable to your eventual reader, and insert the link directly into it, perfectly hidden from view.
On the flip side of text being altered, you can also view the entire history for your project to see who made changes, when they made them, and what they did. The last thing you want is an employee accidentally removing critical SEO content that’s required for your client to accept the project.
Dropbox Paper doesn’t offer too much on the app as of yet, but the point is, it’s there. You can view projects in real time. If you’re out of the office in the back of an Uber, and you need to see how the team is professing on the current task or project, you can use your smartphone to view real time changes. It also formats the content appropriately from desktop view to mobile view, making for a clean read. You can add comments, and you can edit the document, although it’s not recommended from mobile.
While it’s only in he first stages, Dropbox Paper is absolutely setting the stage for how most word processing documents with collaborative features should function. It’s definitely worth your time to check out and at least tinker with before deciding if it’s right for your team to use. I can’t see them doing anything to hinder or mess with this application. So far, the Dropbox team has done a fantastic job at bringing functional and user-friendly systems to us, and hopefully, that will remain.
Until Next Time,