WordPress is one of the best and most widely used content publishing platforms on the planet, but the default post editing process is quite one dimensional. Most of the time it’s one voice with one author putting his ideas out there. I’d like to introduce you to Participad, an innovative new plugin that transforms content creation into a much more social, collaborative and dynamic process. It makes realtime collaboration a reality within WordPress.
Participad is powered by Etherpad Lite, an open source online editor created with Node.js for providing real-time collaborative editing. The Participad WordPress plugin was created by Boone Gorges, a plugin developer who is always looking for inventive and practical ways to bring open source software into education.
This is an exciting tool for use in education, student collaboration, business and brainstorming. Participad could also be useful for facilitating co-authoring in newsrooms or online magazines. Creative collaboration on a work project can be a valuable way to make sure that you are maximizing the potential of any partnership.
Whether it’s students putting their heads together for a class project or two senior vice presidents of a company using their WordPress site to research, discuss and record ways to make their industry more efficient, two heads are always better than one.
The Participad Plugin for WordPress provides a bridge between your WordPress installation and an Etherpad Lite installation. The first step in setting up your collaborative environment is to visit the Etherpad Lite Github repo and follow the instructions for creating an installation on the same domain where you have your WordPress installation. Once that is in place you can add your Etherpad Lite URL and API key to start using the Participad WordPress plugin.
Using Participad With WordPress
Participad provides different modules for integrating its features into three different locations within WordPress: Dashboard, Frontend or Notepad. Each module is optional and can be turned on or off.
If you have the dashboard module turned on, a new Etherpad editor will replacethe standard WordPress editor. This removes the Visual and HTML tabs as shown below and replaces theme with a Participad tab:
The Frontend module is perhaps the easiest to use. It allows users to edit WordPress content from the frontend without having to navigate the dashboard. When you click the Edit link on posts and pages, Participad puts your content into an editable Etherpad window.
The Notepad module is a cool feature for collaborative note-taking documents. It’s essentially a new post type called Notepads and can be linked to existing static posts or pages. Participad’s included shortcodes and widgets make it easy to add note creation to the frontend of your site.
Try The Participad Demo
Perhaps you don’t want to go through all the process of setting up an Etherpad Lite installation and integrating it with WP just to play around with the plugin. You’re in luck! A live Participad demo is available for you to log into and evaluate for your purposes.
You can also get a brief overview of Participad in action by checking out the example video:
Compatible With WordPress Multisite and BuddyPress
You’ll be happy to know that Participad was created to work well with WordPress multisite networks and even sites running BuddyPress. Configuration details are automatically provided for each networked site where Participad is activated. When BuddydPress is active, Participad will record Notepad edits in your Activity stream. Boone plans to add more BuddyPress features in the future, so be on the look out for updates.
Participad is available for free from the WordPress plugin repository. It’s not entirely plug and play, as you need to have an Etherpad installation ready to go, but it’s very powerful once you have it in place. Learn more at particpad.org.