Have you ever had a situation where you want to collaborate and work together on a blog post draft on a WordPress website, but due to technical limitations, you end up copying the entire blog post on Google Docs instead?
As a writer, I often face this dilemma, and to your surprise, even I end up copying the blog post on a temporary Google Docs file so everyone can collaborate there easily.
While this challenge has been around for years, there wasn’t a solution in the market that can bring in the functionality of Google Docs collaboration into WordPress.
But today, we have a reliable plugin that allows admins and editors to easily collaborate without wasting time moving around the content. The plugin I am referring to is Multicollab.
Let’s get to it!
The Multicollab plugin is designed to bring the Google Docs style editing capability to the native WordPress editor.
With the rapid and constant development of the Gutenberg editor, even basic block plugins are having a hard time keeping up. Amidst all of this, the Multidots team has created a free plugin that works with Gutenberg and allows website users to collaborate on a blog post, just like Google Docs.
This means now you don’t have to worry about copy-pasting entire blog posts to Google Docs just for collaboration.
Although I can simply say, “it does what Google Docs does in terms of collaboration.” but it will not do justice to the plugin so let’s take a closer look at its features.
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Features of Multicollab
The plugin allows you to add inline comments to any piece of text in your blog post. You can simply select the text and click on the comment option to drop a comment for that part.
Replies and Resolve
Just like new comments, you can reply to comments inline. Moreover, if you are done, you can simply mark it as resolved. This is very helpful if you want to add or respond to a particular comment without adding a new one.
What if you want a particular user to see and handle the comment? You can simply assign it by tagging them using the ‘@’ sign followed by their name. As you type the name, users with the user roles will show up in a list, and you can select the one you want to assign the comment to.
Multicollab comes with an Activity Center board which lets you keep a tab on the comment activity of users dropping comments in posts/pages. You can visit the activity center and review all the active comments for your posts or pages from a single place. To make things more organized, the active comments are highlighted with a white background while the resolved comments will have a grey colored background. Moreover, if a comment is selected from the activity center, it is highlighted with blue background.
Similar to Google Docs, when you are tagged in a comment, you automatically receive an email notification. This is a much-needed feature as it allows you to stay on top of your content review process.
Built for Gutenberg
The plugin is built specifically for the Gutenberg editor and works only on WordPress 5.3 or newer versions. You won’t be able to use this plugin with the classic editor.
User Roles and Accesses
The plugin has different access for different user roles. Super Admins, Administrators, and Editors can view, edit, delete, reply and resolve the comments on any posts or page. On the other hand, Authors and Contributors can view, edit, delete, reply and resolve comments only on their posts.
(Source: MultiCollab Documentation)
Free to Use
Yes, that’s right. The plugin is available for free on the WordPress.org repository. You can even install and activate it on your website directly from the WordPress dashboard. There might be a pro version in the future with additional features, but currently, you only get priority support with the paid plan for $99 per year.
Well-written documentation is a must for WordPress plugins. MultiCollab maintains solid documentation that covers almost all the aspects of the plugin. If you ever need help, you can find an article on that topic in their documentation.
Hands-On with Multicollab
In this section, I will install and use Multicollab on a standard local WordPress installation.
Installation of the plugin is pretty standard. You can install and activate Multicollab like any other plugin. Once the plugin is activated, you’d be redirected to the Multicollab settings page on the WordPress backend. This page has a plugin video guide and if you want to test a demo before using it on your website, you can click on the live demo button at the bottom of the page.
Since this plugin lets you add comments in the Gutenberg editor, you need to open a post to use it.
Open any blog post in the Gutenberg editor, and you will see the MultiCollab icon at the top right corner of the screen. This icon will open the activity center and settings.
Commenting and Collaborating
To leave a comment, you need to select a part of the text. Then go to the drop-down icon in the block settings and click on the comment option.
Now, you can write the comment just like you’d on Google Docs and save it by clicking on the save button.
If you wish to make any changes to the comment, you can do that by clicking on the pencil icon at the top right corner of the comment box. Next to the pencil icon, you’d see a trash can icon. Clicking on it will delete the comment.
To resolve a comment, you can click on the checkbox at the top of the comment pop-up box.
Replying to comments is pretty easy as well. Type in the comment and click on the reply button to drop the comment as a reply.
If in case your blog post is filled with comments and you want to take a clear and distraction-free look at the doc without resolving all the comments, you can simply go to the Multicollab icon > Settings and disable the ‘Show all Comments’ option. This will ‘hide’ the comments temporarily.
The plugin does its job so well that I feel like I am explaining Google Docs’ commenting functionality!
Undoubtedly, the plugin does what it is supposed to do without any issues.
If you need any assistance with Multicollab or want to raise a support request, you can do it from the Dashboard page of the plugin.
You will find a video guide and onboarding tutorials for the plugin, and on the right side of the screen, you will see two panels. One will lead you to the Multidots website, and the other one will lead you to the support page of the plugin.
There is a plugin settings page, but it only has a single option that enables notifying site admins for all comments even if they are not mentioned. Maybe the team will add more options in the settings tab in future updates.
One feature that I think is missing in Google Docs is that you can’t see all the open comments for docs in a single view.
But with Multicollab, you can go to the pages or posts display in the WordPress admin dashboard, and there you can see the open and total comments in the list view.
This is how it looks like:
If you are an editor or a content lead and want to see how many comments are pending review for a particular post, this summary is perfect for that.
I gave Multicollab a test run in a local environment and checked out its features and functionalities. Undoubtedly, Multicollab proved to be a reliable plugin with solid functionality for the Gutenberg editor.
While the plugin does what it claims, in my opinion, the suggestion mode feature of Google Docs can take this plugin to a whole new level. Suggestion mode editing is a crucial part of collaborating on Google docs and makes the collaboration a lot easier.
For example, instead of commenting “please add a link to this text”, the user can just add the link in suggestion mode, and another user can approve it.
Other than that, the plugin is perfect for anyone who wants to collaborate effectively by commenting on text in the Gutenberg editor.
As I mentioned earlier, the plugin is free to use, and you can install or download it from the WordPress repository.
Do you have a different workflow for collaborating with other admins for blog posts? Tell us how you do it in the comment section below!