DBook Review - Structured And collaborative writing

Daniel Pataki
Oct 23, 2014
Updated • Oct 23, 2014

I started writing a book a while ago in a great tool called Editorially. Regretfully Editorially closed shop this May and in the search for a new app, I found something even better: DBook.

DBook is different from many other tools out there because it forces you to think in terms of structure. While many other apps give you a blank canvas to start writing, DBook makes you create sections. In essence, you have to create your table of contents as you go along and edit each section separately.

To be honest, this annoyed me a lot initially. When editing the content of a section you can not add headings which means you need to structure your whole document in the table of content mode. This seems counterproductive, and in one sense it is, but it proved to be an invaluable tool for organizing myself and getting work done.

First of all, it made me sit down and think about the structure of my book. This helped me clarify my thoughts and identify the weakest sections. One other benefit of this method is that it breaks the work down into manageable chunks.

I knew in advance that the book would be around 40,000 words so sitting down in front of a blank canvas is daunting to say the least. DBook allows you to just go to a section and write about it. Once you're in there you don't need to think about context, how it all fits together, you've already done all that.

While this feature has been a Godsend for me it's limitation is also a big problem with the app. Let's take a look at the features DBook has to offer and I'll explain along the way.

Table Of Contents

The table of contents view is the default view for your project. DBook allows you to add four types of items to your table of contents:

  • Placeholders are temporary items which show an upcoming section and can be redefined later
  • Textblocks will be your most common element, these allow you to add content to the section
  • Definitions contain a term and the meaning of that term
  • Pictures hold a single image


Once items are created they can be indented and dragged and dropped easily - This allows you to quickly restructure your work.

Editing Content

Editing content is very limited. The syntax is markup-like, but lacks a lot of the features. Much of this is intentional, the focus really is on writing. The only elements you have at your disposal are:

  • bold text
  • italic text
  • unordered lists
  • ordered lists
  • quotes
  • links
  • preformatted text

DBook relies on the table of content view to add your headings and items to add images. To me this image handling is an issue. While I would write my next book in DBook as well because of the organizational help, the fact that I have to break up my content just to add images is annoying to say the least, not to mention that for image-heavy work it breaks up the table of contents so much it msay become unwieldy. This has forced me to use a new tool for final editing and adding images.

Collaborative Workflow


The collaborative workflow is not bad but lacks some features. You can assign three statuses to any item: Draft, Review and Final. This is handy if you have an editor. You can indicate when an item is ready to go into editing and your editor can indicate with "Final" when the particular item is ready to go. Based on these statuses, DBook will tell you the completion of your project in percent.

Commenting is available via the sidebar and works like a task list. Each comment can be marked as done, in which case it will disappear and be filed under the archived comments section. This is pretty handy, but it doesn't allow you to specify exactly what section of the content the comment refers to.

Since DBook is all about creating short sections this is not necessarily an problem, but it does mean you need to be as clear as possible in your commenting. Overall, the system does have limitations, but what it does, it does well.

Additional Features

DBook has many useful tidbits. Statistics on your project (word count, character count, number of revisions), it allows you view revisions, change options for your project, download and print your document, and more.


Multiple projects can be created and managed easily, others can be invited to collaborate and share. That said, the meat of DBook is in the table of contents view and the editing workflow.

Final Verdict

In the end I love DBook, but right now I can not use it alone to complete a book. The biggest asset of DBook is the way it makes you write and organize your project. Since this is a subjective issue many people will hate it for the same reason.

If this compartmentalized writing style suits you, DBook will be a great tool for collecting your thoughts and turning a long and difficult task into bite sized chunks.

If you need a one-stop application to write a book DBook falls short, although not by much. It is an interesting direction to take an app and I'm sure they will find their niche. With some more development in the content editing (adding images) they could become a strong contender.

Overall it is nice to see an application with a clear focus. Even though this means it won't be for everybody, those who find it helpful will have a great time with it!

Now You: if you have any suggestions for editing and writing longer pieces of text do let us know in the comments.

DBook Review - Structured And collaborative writing
Article Name
DBook Review - Structured And collaborative writing
Dbook is a structured and collaborative online writing tool that has been specifically designed for large documents such as ebooks or books.

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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between name.com domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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