I'm writing a paper together with my supervisor and would like to have a more sophisticated version control than *_291112_NEW_NEW_revised1.doc files. My supervisor is a non-computer person will never ever use LaTeX or git and loves MS Word. I'm therefore looking for an alternative to Word (I need commenting on text passages!) which stores the files as clean text (Markup for formating is fine), so I'm able to put them under version control on my side. I'm aware that git can also handle binary files, but I'd prefer the cleaner way of looking at the contents directly.

If there's a way to automatically extract the text from word files, I'm fine with that too for now.

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    Why don't you just use word? Word has supported revisions since Office 200 perhaps even earlier then that. – Ramhound Nov 29 '12 at 11:10
  • I would like to have something more sophisticated than that, which tracks all changes from the beginning. – Eekhoorn Nov 29 '12 at 11:14
  • After tinkering with the files, I saw that you can open the .docx files as a zip file. The document.xml contains the data. This could be fed into version control. But still, my question stands: Is there a word processor that makes this easier and the files are not broken? – Eekhoorn Nov 29 '12 at 11:16
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    While I think you can probably achieve what you want in Word 2007/2010 by a combination of Versions (see File->Info), and Revision tracking (as long as it's turned on from the start), there are also external plugins. One good one is AutoHistory - autohistory.codeplex.com - which is free, and automatically saves old copies of every file that's being edited. It also builds in compares and rollback. – PJC Nov 29 '12 at 12:07
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    @zenbomb - Word can track all changes and if the revision information saved it likely can even roll back to a previous revision ( have not really explored the revision features in Word ). Your asking for a word processor that does this, and the answer to your question, is Word itself. The feature is not broken, it works well, and used by hundred of thousands of people so there is lots of support. – Ramhound Nov 29 '12 at 13:00

Depending on any limitations from your end, you could use Google Drive's word processor. Especially the revision history is very well done, and it can export to the common file types (doc/docx, rtf, txt, odt, pdf, html/zipped). Documents can be published, shared, and collaborated on in real time.

Also supports commenting.

  • LaTex over Lyx (WYSIWYM)
  • (Open|Libre)Office - Save as OpenDocument Text (Flat XML)
  • LaTeX would be the best, I agree, but I fear my supervisor is not willing to learn it. – Eekhoorn Nov 29 '12 at 14:51
  • @zenbomb - LyX is almost visual – Lazy Badger Nov 29 '12 at 15:02

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