This post is about a workflow challenge when collaboratively editing an online document, say in Google Docs, and a fix for that challenge.
To set up the problem, imagine that Bob and Carol are editing a document containing an itemized list. Carol adds a bullet item and starts typing. Meanwhile, Bob gets an idea for a second item and places his cursor on the line Carol is typing:
While Carol continues to type, Bob hits Enter to add a new bullet item, breaking the line Carol is typing:
Now Carol’s line is broken and Bob is no closer to being able to start typing. Frustrating right?
If Carol notices that Bob is waiting to jump in, there’s a simple step she can take to make space: hit Enter, type an ellipsis (…), repeat a few times, and then place her cursor back where we was working, and continue on:
Now, Bob (and others!) can grab a list item and start typing. I call this the “bullet ahead” move. By the way, the ellipses are not strictly required, but Carol must type at least one non-whitespace character after each list item, in order to avoid breaking the list.