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How CKEditor Successfully Launched the First Collaboration Functionality

kokou adzo

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teamwork, cooperation, brainstorming

Author: Wiktor Walc, CTO of Tiugo Technologies

Collaboration has quickly become a necessity in today’s business climate. Eighty-three percent of employees rely on using technology for collaboration and over half of businesses have increased their spend on collaboration tools since the pandemic.  

After all, the right digital tools can help streamline inefficient processes and result in increased effectiveness in the workplace. In fact, online collaboration tools and digital workplaces have been found to increase workplace productivity by up to 30%.

We found this especially true in the content editing space where traditional collaboration methods, such as sharing Word documents as attachments across multiple parties, led to wasted time and effort. The inability to work together in real-time wreaked havoc as teams attempted to connect various edits and versions into one final, approved product.

As the need for real-time collaborative editing rose, the CKEditor team quickly realized we had the opportunity to become innovators in the marketplace, with a vision of providing collaboration tools easily to any application.That’s where CKEditor 5, a powerful, modern, and user-friendly rich text editor that enhances CMS and CRM systems, was born. 

Leaving Behind What We Knew

For more than 20 years, we built CKEditor into a high-quality rich text editor. By prioritizing real-time collaboration, we were essentially leaving behind everything we built as a WYSIWYG HTML editor and what our customers had come to expect. After all, there was no way to build the functionalities, such as real-time collaboration or track changes, we wanted to add to CKEditor 5 on top of our current version due to limiting architecture.

In order to address the needs of the market and answer what our prospective clients were asking about, we chose to take a risk and build a completely new editor on top of new architecture with collaboration at its heart.

The Unknown Path Forward

The road to a successful product launch seemed dismal on more than one occasion. We had no external funding to cover any period of potential loss, a slowly aging UI/UX in CKEditor 4 and numerous issues with the development of CKEditor 5.

Yet, we knew if we could get the collaboration functionality right, our product would succeed. To get there it would take increased work and effort, coupled with resilience and determination across our organization.

It took almost four years of research, planning and developing to launch CKEditor 5. The first version excited prospects with its potential, even if not every piece was completely in place. The more conversation we had, the more we got closer to addressing future customer needs.

Lessons Learned from Taking the Leap

Today, CKEditor 5 is a successful rich text editor that solves collaboration challenges for our clients. For Kanbanize, a global leader in Kanban software, CKEditor 5 allows team members to collaborate and stay inside the Kanbanize application rather than switch to another application. For Addiction Recovery, the software enabled streamlined content creation for the fast-growing company. Writers on the team are able to work together in one place, editing the same document and connecting in the comments section to resolve issues as needed. Success stories like these have resulted in company growth at 35% year over year. But along the path we learned a few valuable lessons.

Shortcuts aren’t an option

The reality is, we could have added real-time collaboration and other features to CKEditor 4. However, we were not comfortable with the quality of the product incorporating those changes. A poorly designed product went against our core values as a company and would jeopardize the integrity and dedication of our team.

Creativity is key

As we continued to build and launch the first stable version of CKEditor 5, we still needed a product for our clients. So, we chose to offer both CKEditor 4 and CKEditor 5 in parallel. While unusual, this allowed us to focus as a company on how to move forward strategically, rather than just recreate an existing model.

Listen to your customers

What better way to understand market trends than by listening to your potential buyers? CKEditor 5 was originally based on current demands in the content editing space coupled with holes not filled by any software component vendors. Today, the product is built with live collaboration in mind, even in near constant development. Customers and our open-source community are willing to state they need from CKEditor 5 to make their lives easier and more efficient. 

By building a trusting and open community, our customers were flexible with us as we addressed complex problems that required substantial time to solve. Further, real-time feedback allows for continual upgrades, like side panel document outline, a table of contents plug in, slash commands and more, all coming to users in Q2 2023.

You are nothing without your team

The development of the next-generation rich-text editor would not have been possible without the work of a highly motivated team that refused to be discouraged by slow progress and low adoption.

CKEditor 5 was built on trust and support giving engineers freedom and time to explore new directions. In order to create an innovative solution, we needed to give our team the space to do their best work and manage from a distance. Our long-term strategic goals were made possible, thanks to patience and determination of a trusted, agile team.

Real-time Collaboration Achieved

CKEditor 5’s journey all began with the understanding of how the future of work would look to our prospective and current customer. Content journeys are becoming increasingly customized, automated and shareable. By focusing on collaboration and its ability to enhance our customers’ work, we were able to build a best of class product that boosts team productivity and allows customers to work smarter and faster.    

 

Kokou Adzo is the editor and author of Startup.info. He is passionate about business and tech, and brings you the latest Startup news and information. He graduated from university of Siena (Italy) and Rennes (France) in Communications and Political Science with a Master's Degree. He manages the editorial operations at Startup.info.

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