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Real-time collaboration is the new responsive design

February 3rd, 2021

4 min read

Different colored text boxes

Written by

Ben Wilkinson


Developer Insights
From January 2023, TinyMCE no longer offers Real-Time Collaboration (RTC) for new customers. For Existing customers, we'll be in contact to discuss options. Please reach out to your Account Manager if you are a customer using RTC, and you have any questions about the plugin.

Chances are, you’ve been hearing a lot about real-time collaboration (RTC) lately. Maybe you’re seeing it appear on features lists, talked about in forums, or requested by users. Real-time collaboration, where more than one person can edit a document at once, isn’t just a trend that’s going to disappear. It’s here to stay.

If you think back to a decade ago, we started to hear more and more about responsive design. Mobile responsiveness soon became best practice for website and app developers - and today, it’s almost unthinkable for a site to be desktop-only - and if it is, someone’s probably taking advantage of you.

Real-time collaboration is the new responsive design. So, let’s talk a bit more about why RTC is so essential for products and what we’ve been doing in this space here at Tiny.

Design tools are increasingly collaborative

We saw real-time collaboration first arrive to design tools, which are becoming increasingly collaborative. Webflow, Figma, and many other design tools sell the idea of one designer working on, say, the header while another one works on the footer, and it all comes together in the one product.

Of course, in reality, that’s not how the design actually happens most of the time. But RTC is still useful in this space because of how it makes it so easy for people to jump in. You can get someone to design the work, someone else can review it, and your boss can approve it. It’s perfect for enabling the review process and workflow.

Top word processing software is collaborative

The future of content creation is certainly in two or more people editing a document at once. Dropbox, Drive, and Word Online all offer collaboration, with multiple people able to join a document simultaneously and edit live. Almost all content creation is moving in this direction, although a few platforms aren’t quite there yet. There are certain environments (like Medium) where the focus is on private publishing. But generally speaking, real-time collaboration is a practical option for content creators, and it will soon be considered the norm.

Real time collaboration improves workflow

I’ve already hinted at this, but real-time collaboration isn’t just about multiple people creating content simultaneously. It’s more often about creating a smoother, faster workflow where more than one person is involved in the process. 

For example, editorial teams often include writers, editors, graphic designers, and an editor-in-chief. In this case, the content will often flow from the writer to the editor, to the graphic designer, before being approved by the editor-in-chief. With real-time collaboration, two people can log in and touch a document at the same time, without worrying about version control or duplicates. 

RTC minimizes barriers

The fewer barriers to content creation, the fast and easier it will be to bring ideas to life and to your audience. Real-time collaboration takes away barriers like:

  • Waiting for someone to finish their part so you can start working on yours
  • Waiting for feedback to come through (especially from multiple parties)
  • Reliance on email for the review process
  • Difficulty working with remote team members
  • Uncertainty about what information (or version) is up-to-date

Rich text editing requires collaboration

Most customers in the rich text editor space truly care about providing the best content creation experiences for users. And to do that, they need the best possible collaboration experience, with features like simultaneous editing or track changes to help improve their workflow. Within the next 12 months, we expect real-time collaboration to be the norm for all rich text editors and the apps that use them.

RTC at Tiny

Here at Tiny, we’ve been exploring real-time collaboration for some time now. In late 2020, we released our Closed Beta for RTC with our text editor and look forward to bringing so much more in this space.

You can read more about what we’ve been working on, like:

Or if you’d like to suggest a new feature for Tiny, make sure you check on the TinyMCE Roadmap. It's the best way to keep in the loop as we expand Tiny's features.

It’s been a huge process, but we’re so excited to see our customers grow their products through our RTC capabilities over the next few years!

byBen Wilkinson

Director of Product & Design at Tiny. Subscribes to a customer-first design philosophy. Repeat founder with a legacy of independent design and engineering efforts across Microsoft, Virgin Airlines, ABC and government. Workshop-aholic.

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