Home EtherPad: Dead Simple Real Time Collaboration

EtherPad: Dead Simple Real Time Collaboration

EtherPad is not likely to win a price for its user interface design, but it might just be one of the most useful web apps we have seen in quite a while. EtherPad allows you to instantly create a workspace for text documents that you can then share with your colleagues, clients, or friends. Every edit to the document will immediately appear on your co-workers’ screens in real-time.

EtherPad acknowledges that Google Docs already allows for a similar kind of collaboration, but compared to EtherPad, Google Docs is clunky and slow when you just want to collaborate on a simple text document.

EtherPad would be a great tool if you want to keep collaborative notes during a conference call or meeting, but you could also use it to draft or edit text for a press release or email collaboratively.

No-Sign Up

EtherPad, for example, doesn’t require you to sign-up before you can start working on your document. You can also just share your workspace’s URL with your co-workers and they, too, don’t have to sign up. Indeed, you can’t even sign up for the service, which may become a bit of a problem if you want to go back to a document you worked on earlier, but don’t remember the randomly assigned URL.

Google Docs requires you to send email invitation to all your collaborators and updates to documents don’t appear in real-time.


EtherPad also has a versioning system that allows you, or anybody else with access to your workspace, to save the document at any time.

Developers who want to share code might also find this a useful tool, as it can highlight JavaScript syntax. Looking at EtherPad’s heritage, it becomes clear why the developers added this feature. The service was developed by AppJet, an online web programming platform, and is basically a showcase for the next version of AppJet’s tools, but was mainly created because the developers at AppJet were looking for a tool that had EtherPad’s functionality but weren’t able to find one.


As is often the case, the most useful tools are those that have a relatively restricted feature set, but allow users the freedom to use them as they see fit. EtherPad is one of these services and it will probably become a standard tools for us very soon.

You can find a screencast of the product here, but given that you don’t have to sign up for it, you could just as well try it out for yourself (or join this workspace we already created).

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.