Here's a useful partnership: take a company that lets people compare and selectively combine multiple versions of a Microsoft Word document (TextFlow), and put it together with a company that hosts documents and has built-in communication tools (Box.net).
That's the news from these two, which on Tuesday are taking the wraps off anintegration that lets Box users use Nordic River's right inside their storage folders.
The partnership solves one big problem, and that's wrangling multiple versions of a file. Instead of the onus being on one editor to herd them together by e-mail, they can just have each user edit a single copy stored on Box. Those users can then save the file back as a version of the file, which an editor is able to compare--at up to seven versions at a time, from a TextFlow page within Box.
Another benefit of having Box handle the storage is that TextFlow can now save charts and images from within documents. Previously, these were stripped out in the TextFlow conversion. Users can even move them around within the document, just as if they were in Word.
This has one big effect on work flow, specifically the bit at the end, which is where TextFlow's system fell apart. Sure, it was great to speed up the edit process, but at the end, you were stuck adding these document elements back in from a previous copy.
According to Nordic River CEO Tomer Shalit, who spoke with CNET last week, this same kind of functionality, which includes the images and charts within documents, will eventually trickle down into TextFlow proper.
The only other road bump--and one Shalit anticipates will be fixed later on--is that Box's system does not allow users to select multiple files and compare them--only multiple versions of the same file. This is the exact opposite of how people use TextFlow on its own, which is where some confusion may initially crop up with long-term TextFlow users.
The new feature requires that users be paid Box business subscribers to use it, since it takes advantage of Box's file-versioning system, which is available only with the higher-end plans. It also requires being a paid user of TextFlow, which runs $9.95 a month, or $99 a year. To that end, this will be the first tool for Box users to compare different versions of the same file from within the service. Previously, users would have had to get local copies of each of these, then run them through TextFlow or .
Correction 10:26 a.m. PST: This article initially misstated the price of using the TextFlow service within Box.net. It costs $9.95 a month, or $99 a year.
Update: Here's a demo of what it looks like in action: