Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Review of Google Docs

So just like everyone else I saw that Google had released this new Google Docs thing. So I thought I would take a look at the program to see what it was all about, and I have to say it's pretty exciting. It isn't going to replace OpenOffice for doing serious page layout. It is rudimentary in a way that I don't even remember Abiword being back when I first used it in 2000. The interface is slow and awkward, and I don't have even a tenth of the options I use in OpenOffice, which given how I rant about word processing programs having too many features for what they are supposed to do, that is saying something. However, it provides all the basic necessities, and allows me to save the documents on a server where I can get to them from anywhere. I don't have to save them on my USB key and use up precious writes to my poor flash memory. I don't have to burn them off to a CD or e-mail them to myself, or upload them to an FTP. I can just save them directly onto storage, and I can choose other people to have access to them, both plain viewing access as well as collaborative access. In fact there is a little line of text in the bottom of the screen telling me no one else is currently editing this very document and a link to Add Collaborators. This program in many ways reminds me of songbird. It lacks a lot of things that everyone else on the market has, but it brings a lot of engaging new functionality to the table that is far more exciting that getting all the old stuff right again for the who cares numberth of times.

I think one of two things will happen with Google Docs. Either google with aggressively develop and market this delightful little morsel of code and it will develop a significant niche, or perhaps grow into a full fledged productivity and collaboration product, or the features available in this program will over the next few production cycles begin making their way into the established products with the old reliable and oh so unfortunately necessery functions established and polished.

The biggest possibilities for this program lie in it's ability to interface with Blogger. The possibilities available in collaborative blogging are delightful, and while Google Docs lacks much of the functionality that I have come to love so much from my mainstay office productivity programs, as a blog publishing program it is far more advanced than anything I've seen in a wordpress interface, or a blogger interface before. By positioning this technology in such a way that it is compared to established online production and publication technologies instead of office productivity technologies Google has given it a market fertile with changes for development, and who knows it may well develop into something that could eventually displace or at least play with the bigger static boys. So I would say take a look, and think about what you do on a daily basis, you might just find yourself using this little AJAX wonder more than you thought.

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