DTU is a renowned academic institution, recognized internationally and ranked among Europe's, or even the world's, best technical universities—particularly regarding the proportion of publications with industry. For instance, in the World University Research Rankings 2020, DTU is ranked no. 2 in the world and no. 1 in Europe.
Excellence in research, a business-oriented approach, as well as transferring knowledge and technology from laboratories to market are some of the hallmarks of this academic institution. Being one step ahead on the innovation front is another one—and using obsolete, old-fashioned tools or procedures is not something that this international elite technical university could accept. For this reason, at some point, DTU decided to switch to the cutting-edge content creation solution that CKEditor 5 is—and they experienced a vital digital improvement.
DTU employees use CKEditor internally, with the non-real-time collaboration mode. It helps them work over documents together, at the time that is most convenient for particular team members. The administration handles the whole annual management cycle process between DTU’s management and the institution’s 23 departments and centers. They are reporting on their long-term strategy, on the annual action plan, and then the annual report is created. All this takes place in a system where they use CKEditor.
Challenge: finding a smart, full-featured content creation solution
To make an impact globally, one has to act quickly and efficiently. But these were the qualities that DTU employees lacked in their content creation tool meant for internal report writing. It called for improvement.
The major content creation challenge they had to face before switching to CKEditor was that the tools they had used didn't have the possibility to track changes. Users couldn't do spell check either so they just had to trust that they were getting it right. For this reason, they tended to use Word and then copy-paste the content to the system since they couldn't do a lot within it. Nevertheless, DTU administrators wanted people involved to use the system for content creation per se. Chanette Locki Plesner, Project Manager at DTU, says:
The features our users desired most were tracking changes and spell checking. We got them both with CKEditor 5.
Initially, they didn't have a system at all and employees used the Word template for report writing, and then sent documents by mail to the administration. But then a system was built to make reports more accessible. It featured an editor but it was a very simple, out-of-the-box editor from SharePoint, with a text box and a toolbar to access some rudimentary functionalities.
This transitional solution was very basic so DTU editors asked for more advanced features. They were not happy because it was still a manual way of doing things, which required extra work and time for copying and pasting pieces of information into the system. And the departments asked for the possibility to get it to be more like a Word doc. Gathering users’ feedback within the Agile process finally let administrators reach the optimum solution.
When looking for a more convenient, time-efficient, and smarter solution, DTU developers reached out to Google to look for what was in the market. Chanette Locki Plesner recalls:
When we saw the CKEditor project, we thought that this is what we're looking for, let’s try it. And we did an analysis on it and found out that this is actually a very good product.
Solution: enhancing the content creation tool with CKEditor’s collaboration features
As of now, DTU uses CKEditor in a clean, structured, well-organized way, reflecting their attitude to doing things. Their content creation tool, enhanced with CKEditor, lets different departments create their annual reports efficiently, while filling in particular text boxes. They have to go through many chapters within the process of report creation and this involves the close collaboration of people within every department—using Track Changes, Comments, and other cutting-edge CKEditor 5’s features.
The system in SharePoint, where all departments write their annual reports, is built upon text boxes. At first, only some basic formatting was available for a given text box. But now, with CKEditor 5 on board, it has the spell and grammar check feature enabled, too.
And CKEditor, enhanced with Track Changes and Comments, turned out to be great for the purpose of using the system thoroughly and writing in it without the necessity of copy-pasting the content from Word. DTU departments now use the system from the start in the process of doing the internal reports.
The biggest changes concerned the use of Track Changes and Comments. With these two features, DTU employees can actually have a process going on in the system regarding their suggestions concerning, for example, a particular chapter they are working on. One person can leave their comments at one point in time, and another one goes in the same chapter later on, at a time that is convenient for them. Everything goes smoothly, and the reports workflow no longer requires setting up real-life (or even virtual) meetings.
They also heavily use—and praise—the word and character count feature. It helps limit the report length to the desired size or keep track of the content length to fit within the maximum length of the report set. Spell checking is popular as well, but it’s Track Changes and Comments that are topping the list of the most commonly-used features. As for other functionalities, they also use regular formatting features available via the toolbar, like paragraphs or bold, and the language selection option.
Result: a convenient, time-efficient solution that serves all needs
CKEditor has changed DTU’s application for the better, providing many advantages for its end-users. It’s a shared success because administrators listened to what people wished for and improved the system accordingly. It was a trial and error process overall that ultimately led to a happy ending. The bottom line is a solution that is well-thought, thoroughly designed, and highly appreciated by employees. Now, they have a content creation tool that is way better than the previous ones—in terms of functionality, convenience, and time efficiency.
Furthermore, using CKEditor within the system improves the central management process at the university, making it much smoother. It also helps a little bit in the change management process because the users were not very happy with the middle-stage solution where a lot was a manual process still, with the necessity to copy-paste the content.
“I actually think that, in the change management process, it was a great thing that the system had the functionality CKEditor enabled,” emphasizes Chanette Locki Plesner.
On top of that, DTU employees rank the quality of software developed by CKSource very high, with no serious mishaps experienced thus far. As Chanette puts it:
The few times that we ever contacted the CKEditor support team, it’s been nothing but a positive experience for us. The answers were very quick and the service — very nice overall.
And, in general, starting to make use of CKEditor meant a huge user experience improvement that totally changed the process. “When users had the chance to use spell and grammar check, Track Changes, and Comments, it made their life easier because then they could use the system right from the start in the internal process,” Chanette adds. Now, they are heading towards starting the content from scratch.
As for the future, they are going to use CKEditor as long as this system exists. It is sufficient now to serve all their content creation needs but, one day, they may start making use of some more advanced CKEditor features or expand to real-time collaboration.
With their experience in mind, they would recommend using CKEditor to other educational institutions or organizations without any doubt.