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Ellipsus is Now in Open Beta

Growth comes from love, not the other way around. Last fall, we kicked off the closed beta for Ellipsus with the goal of making a writing tool people love. After months of product cycles and conversations with our community, we’re ready to bring Ellipsus to a broader audience.

Now anyone can join the beta; collaborate with their co-authors, editors, and beta readers; and help shape the future of Ellipsus.

Written by
  • John McClelland
  • Rex Mizrach
  • Kate Donahue
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(Re)introducing Ellipsus

The genesis for Ellipsus stems from a deeply personal experience. Writing together is still fucking hard! How do we know? After leaving my last company in 2022, my partner Rex and I started to work on a meta-modern space opera. We struggled to organize our thoughts. Valuable comments were lost across various drafts. Inevitably, important context would get scrapped, leaving us frustrated and demotivated.

Writing at the same time wasn’t the issue. But exploring directions, reconvening, and bringing our ideas back together was impossible. So, by the end of 2022, our space opera was (temporarily) set aside in favor of a bigger idea.

With Ellipsus, we want to make it easy for anyone to write together—no matter how many editors, reviewers, or co-authors are involved. It’s still early days, but here are a few things that have stood out to our closed beta testers.

Wrangle your big, hairy ideas (and extra-long docs)

Google Docs is made for memos. But manuscripts? It’s a messy, disconnected process. The more people you add, the more edits made, or the longer the document—the more it breaks. During our early user research, we consistently heard that Google Docs strained to support larger documents, buckling once a document crept past 30,000 words.

Ellipsus powers writers writing stories in the hundreds of thousands of words. And, most importantly, it powers writers writing big works together. Since 2006, Google Docs has relied on the server-first Operational Transformation (OT). We combine the more modern, local-first Conflict-free Replicated Datatypes (CRDT) and Git-like version control. (This is why we often tell folks to think of us as “GitHub for writers.") This lets us offer a deeper level of collaboration and control, and greater granularity when it comes to who wrote what, when. In turn, you have full creative control without the mess.

Collaborate freely on any device

We’ve surveyed and interviewed hundreds of writers over the past year to understand just how essential collaboration is to their workflow. Writers lean on their community for fact-checking, role-playing dialogue, beta reading, line edits, and more. And when writing tools lack a collaborative layer or can’t support complex works, they have to enlist Discord, email, or even WhatsApp to work with others.

Ellipsus aims to make writing effortlessly collaborative for writing projects of every size. With drafts and version history, co-authors and editors have the space to riff on existing ideas and explore new ones, without worry about work getting lost. With comments and in-app chat, writers can jot down ideas, solicit real-time feedback, and discuss work to be done in one place—no additional apps needed.

Write with rights

In a world where generative AI is insinuating itself into nearly every creative field, writers are rightfully concerned about protecting their work. But AI is just the latest threat in a long history of published works being plagiarized, censored, or purged.

We are unwaveringly writer-centric. That means we don’t police or lay claim to your art—it’s yours and yours alone—and we don’t place limits on what you can create, whether it’s NSFW, LGBT+, etc. We’re currently working with lawyers to make our stance explicit in the form of a rock-solid, user-friendly privacy policy.

The road to open beta

Getting here was no easy feat. And it certainly isn’t something we can take full credit for; at every step of the way, our community of early beta testers helped guide us with their ideas, wishes, and constructive feedback.

Entering beta carries a certain implicit risk: What if no one uses what we’re building? After all, not every test is a guaranteed success. Fortunately, we discovered early on that there’s a segment of writers that were very happy to pour their trust, sweat, and creativity into Ellipsus, despite the occasional technical hiccup.

Roughly 20% of our monthly active writers are what we call “power writers”—logging in multiple times a week, often switching between a laptop and smartphone, and writing for hours on end. This group has been instrumental in proving out the value of more experimental features like drafts and in-app chat, and pushing us to prioritize improvements around mobile web and large document management.

Our Discord community has been another pleasant surprise. Getting to play any part in facilitating writer-to-writer connections gives us major warm fuzzies. And seeing early signs that our writers aren’t just people like us, they’re people we like, has been incredibly motivating. In addition to improving our product, you can bet we’ll be doubling down on Discord to help spark conversations and give writers a safe, positive place to hone their craft.

What's ahead: public launch

We plan to officially rip the beta label off of Ellipsus and launch later this summer. There’s still lots to build and fine-tune before we can hit that milestone, and we need help to get there.

That’s where you come in!

As a writer in our open beta, you get to have a direct say in something being built for People. Like. You. You can also connect with likeminded freak-flag fliers in our Discord.

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