Multiple people working on the same book or collection

Question from a user in South Asia:

I have a question regarding Bloom. Is there a way to share editable formats of books in progress between different users, within the same language project? What about across languages within a cluster project?

This is a need we have in our project, as books need to be edited by different people remotely and sometimes we adapt a particular story for all languages in the project. At the moment we are using Publisher.

I wonder if Dropbox would work for them?

Liz, I’m not sure what you mean about sharing ‘formats’. If two people are working on the same book, basically you just have to make sure only one of them works on it at a time, and transfer the book folder using something like dropbox in between.
If you’re thinking about designing page layouts (picture placement, text formatting etc) that can be reused in different books, take a look at the new Template Starter template added in Bloom 3.9

I suspect that what they want is akin to the Send/Receive function (which I believe may have dropped off the future feature list) that makes it so that one person can send it and another receive to continue working on it, then send it back. Our Enabling Writers grantee in Nigeria apparently ran into this problem, with wanting editors to actually work on the books in Bloom on different computers than the authors. So they needed to get the Bloom books onto another computer without ending up with two versions of the book being worked on separately.

The only way I am aware of to do this right now would be for one person to zip a book’s folder and send it to the second person who unzips it into a collection on their computer for the same language. They just have to agree who is currently in control of the book and can make changes. Bloom doesn’t have any built-in tools for sharing individual books in editable (not shell book) form as far as I know.

With regard to adapting a book for all languages in the project, I believe they would do that by creating a Bloom Pack with the book in it that could be installed on other computers and used in collections for the other languages in the project. So, Bloom does have tools for that kind of sharing of books across languages.

Oh, with regard to Dropbox, we have indeed used Dropbox to share a single collection of books between different people. We have found that it works best to zip the collection folder and put it in a Dropbox folder for the other person to unzip and work on. This can work well but requires a fair amount of attention to version control and who should be working on the books at a given point in time.

Some sort of “send this book to someone else” could be a useful feature.

I just copied the question as I received it, but I suspect the first sentence is about the ability to have one person edit it, then send it to another person in a format that allows them to also edit it. (E.g. not as a PDF, Ebook, or in Bloom Library).

Thanks for the suggestions.

There seems to be two things they want to do:

  • Allow multiple people to work on the same books. From the responses here, this could be done by zipping the book folder, then transferring using DropBox or similar sharing software. (But they could not work on it at the same time). That’s where a send/receive feature would be helpful.
  • Allow multiple people working within a cluster project to translate/adapt the same story for all the languages in the project. So this could be done by creating a Bloom pack containing all the books to be translated, transferring it to the other users, then installing it).

Do they want to edit a Bloom book outside of the Bloom program? This doesn’t sound like a great idea to me, especially since Bloom is freely available. To send a book to someone else for editing in Bloom, zipping the project folder for a thumb drive or Dropbox works. We have been doing this, labeling each zip file with a date for version backups. The editors must be very careful to assign editing rights to one person at a time and make sure that person receives the latest files.

They are still new to using Bloom and have been using Publisher for their books until now. So if they can do this in Bloom instead, they would welcome that. (But sharing books between users is their main need).

How are they doing this in Publisher?

Even with Send/Receive two people can not work on the same book at the same time. It might be faster to email a pub file back and forth but it still has to be done with care. I would say that the benefits of using Bloom over Publisher should be weighed against the inconvenience of using a Dropbox-like solution. Depends on their internet quality, I imagine.

On the other hand, I just tested emailing a .BloomPack file between sil.org addresses. It looks as though you can only BloomPack a “Source Collection”, not an individual book from within a collection. Might it be worth (mis)using the Bloom Source Collection feature for books that need to be emailed back and forth?

@kblewett - they’ve been emailing/sharing the Publisher file with those who need to make changes.

I realise that even with send/receive two people cannot work on the same book at the same time. I don’t think that’s what they are wanting (although it may be a good feature!) but the ability to send an unpublished book to another member of the team for them to make changes.

I would like to pick up this thread, as just this past week I was asked by two separate projects how to collaborate on books, particularly one person writing them another person editing on another computer.

One suggestion I have is to create a function to put on a book’s drop-down menu in the Collections view that would zip the book’s folder so that the zip could be sent to someone else. Presumably, Bloom would give the file a special extension so that Bloom on the other end would know what to do with it. The simplest version of this might be to place the zip of the book in the collection folder on the second computer and double-click on it. Bloom would unzip the book to that collection. The person could then edit it and repeat the process when they want to send it back.

A more refined version could hide a book or make it uneditable after sending it to prevent the person from editing it while someone else is working on it. Then undo that when the book is added again.

I’m wondering about leaning on existing sharing services like Dropbox and Google Drive. These already seem to do something about locking when using MS Office, but so far I haven’t seen a way for other apps to get the same benefits. But we could probably add a file to indicate locking status, which Bloom would understand.

One way to think about the requirements is to think of all the problem situations and what Bloom might do/say/offer in them:

“Paul Frank currently has this book locked, so you cannot open it.”
“This collection has been marked as one that is shared, but you currently don’t have an internet collection, so you cannot edit any of the books in it.”
“It appears that this book was in the process of being uploaded to Dropbox when a connection was lost” (I’ve seen this happen countless times)