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Is it possible to use Paper as anything other than a dead-end silo?

Helpful | Level 5

Paper looked interesting - but the more I used it, the more I realised it actually works against everything that made dropbox useful in the first place.

I'm trying to work out if there's any redeeming utility to Paper, and without a radical re-thinking of what it is and where it fits in the Dropbox ecosystem, I can't see it being anything other than another dead-end silo and waste of time. Pull up a chair!

So paper seems to work internally as a markdown-style document editor. This is good. People can collaborate on documents. This is also good.


I go to my dropbox to pick up one of these documents to continue working on a different device. These documents are not part of my Dropbox document tree! In fact, I have no idea where they live, other than knowing they're outside of the traditional Dropbox service. This means Dropbox is effectively running two parallel services and document stores, one where I can use my tools to edit documents, and another where I need an online connection to edit a document which isn't even *in* my Dropbox.


Dropbox may remember that the reason people adopted it initially was that it resolved a problem people had around maintaing multiple document stores and the horrors of five people having the same spreadsheet with minor out-of-sync differences between them. What they've just done is created a system where *the same document across their own platforms may be out of sync* because you have to manually export, and there's no mechanism to round-trip these documents. You can't export then re-import.

This also means that Dropbox, by storing paper documents outside the standard document tree, now has a two-tier sharing and permissions system in place.


Dropbox was very very good at sharing and syncing files. If Dropbox now sees itself as trying to expand into the space already occupied by Quip, Google Docs / Writely, Office 365, Apple, Xoho, they're already lagging hugely behind, and *not* leveraging the round-trip and massive document storage mechanisms their successful business offers, I think they're in for a fall. They've built a dead-end, one-way silo on top of a system that's the exact opposite of that. Put your things into Dropbox, and you can change, share, edit, update, etc seamlessly; once you've started a document in Paper, that's it. It's stuck there. You can export it, but otherwise, it's just dead space.


It's a lovely little editor, but it's not even a round peg in a square hole; it's an oil painting of last September being pushed into a square hole.


I hope Dropbox realise this and try to make some sense of it.

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Re: Is it possible to use Paper as anything other than a dead-end silo?


Hello @davem,


Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback, we really appreciate it. We’ re working hard to improve Paper and we're passing the feedback on to the team.


Thank you.

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Re: Is it possible to use Paper as anything other than a dead-end silo?

Helpful | Level 6

I don't agree at all!  


The companies that you mentioned had always been focused on collaborative, single documents that end up cluttered in folders.


Paper, on the other hand, is focused on providing tools to build meta-documents. Like a glue around all those pieces of information, sort of a hub. It is unique because of that, in my opinion.


Re: Is it possible to use Paper as anything other than a dead-end silo?

New member | Level 2

I have to agree with this. Based on the amount of Evernote users jumping ship, people are clearly fed up with being locked into proprietary systems. The live markdown editing is absolutely stunning, but I've adopted enough services that go nowhere, the search doesn't work, are not as scalable as promised, or get bloated trying to add superfluous features. 


There is a market for a paid, cloud-based, text editor that is easily exportable and links to existing data - particularly if a desktop client were added to the mix. If this were it, I'd happily pay for, and remain faithful, to it. If the success of this early release is intended to determine customer interest, it's a bad proxy. For academics and writers, or anyone who values their writing as an extension of their own mind, confidence in theability to retain control of that writing, and the ability to use it as they see fit, is essential. With that assurance, you will likely see many of us. Without it, none.    


Re: Is it possible to use Paper as anything other than a dead-end silo?

Helpful | Level 6

I don't agree at all, but I respect your opinions. I personally use it for serious programming projects, I've used it to write my novels, share important documents for work, etc. Evernote, Google Docs. They don't come close to Dropbox Paper. Dropbox Paper is essentially the smartest and in the simplest way, the most powerful editor without all the traditional office suite redundancies.


Again, I hear where you're coming from but personally, I don't agree at all.

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Is it possible to use Paper as anything other than a dead-end silo?
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