How CKEditor with real-time collaboration saved Tablo hours of development
Tablo is a platform for writing and publishing books, and they also have an eye on the world of education. They have adapted their Tablo Writer to include real-time collaboration between students. CKEditor 5 provided them with the most modern rich-text editing solution available, along with collaborative features that opened up new business opportunities for the company.
Challenge: Responding to customer needs
It all began when the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) considered integrating Tablo’s writing and document sharing capabilities into their learning management system. This included generating ePub files for ebooks; archiving ebooks is important for UTS and, with ePub files, they could store them independent of anything. They also started discussing the possibility of having a collaborative writing interface so that students could do their creative writing simultaneously.
Alex Eckermann, CTO at Tablo, smiles while recalling that period. “We pitched the idea of collaboration to them before we actually had a solid plan for what that was actually going to be. There were some solutions that were potentially viable there but none of them ticked all the boxes.”
Tablo started looking for a next-generation collaborative editor that grasped what the future of content writing would be: modern, simple and extensible so that they could write their own plugins and custom elements.
Solution: A next-generation collaborative editor
When deciding on what editor to use, Eckermann saw the CKEditor 5 announcement that included collaborative editing. “I checked out the source code and saw straight away how it was built, the methodology behind it and the capabilities that can come from it. It was extremely well documented. The code structure was amazing - some of the best I’d seen. And I was really impressed by the extensibility it offered. We made the decision to completely switch to CKEditor 5 within a couple of days.”
Thanks to CKEditor 5 being integrated with Tablo, students at UTS can now collaborate on creative tasks like short stories. These are then submitted as part of their coursework. Students can invite one another to collaborative writing sessions by entering their email addresses. The system automatically does all the work.
Students no longer need to send the documents around or use Dropbox. They just jump in and collaborate.
Eckermann says students can now work in a more efficient manner. “They no longer need to send the documents around or use Dropbox. They just jump in and collaborate. That creates a new fluid workflow. CKEditor 5 is there to provide full-featured rich text editing experience which is what everyone expects based on Google Docs and other online tools.”
Result: Extending Tablo’s market reach
So far, Tablo has been driven by a basic end-user model. People came to the site to write, share and publish. The UTS project opened Tablo up to a completely different market and established a new branch of their business model: B2B. Now they are able to gain more sales from the education sector with collaboration as their massive headlining feature.
Eckermann is already considering how to make use of collaboration in Tablo’s future projects. “There is a phenomenon called social writing. It would be interesting to have an author writing a book live and interact with the community around them. We haven’t tested that yet but we are excited to see where these collaborative features can take us.”
Eckermann points to time-saving as one of the biggest advantages Tablo got from the integration with CKEditor 5. “At some point, I was contemplating how much effort it would take me to write my own editor or at least find another project that I could adapt. And I realized CKEditor 5 saved us so many hours of development!”