Online storage sucks but synchronised storage, now that’s what we’re all waiting for…
People are calling GDrive an online file system. I don’t think it is. Let’s take a look at what the page says:
Backup. If you lose your computer, grab a new one and reinstall Platypus. Your files will be on your new machine in minutes.
Sync. Keep all your machines synchronized, even if they run different operating systems.
Local IO speeds. Open and save as quickly as you could if you were accessing them from your C: drive.
If this were online storage it would say, your files would be accessible on your machine. It doesn’t, it says, your files are ON your machine. It says your machines are SYNCHRONISED and open and save as quickly as your C:Drive
GDrive, I believe, will be an online mirror of your files, that replicate a virtual drive on your hard disk. This is the online/offline future I’ve talked about a number of times before.
If this is what GDrive is, IT WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING.
As Squash readers will know I’ve put just about every online application through a test drive at one time or another because I fundamentally believe in an online, thin client future. My Ajax Challenge was to see how long I could go without loading a single piece of desktop software onto my computer. After a while, it wore me down and I relented downloaded Open Office because too often I couldn’t get an internet connection or it was too slow.
I believe Google recognise this limitation. Hence their partnerships with the Open Office group and also the Firefox developers. It doesn’t make sense to throw the baby out with the bathwater and abandon desktop applications all together.
I’ve tried a good number of online storage systems too and the problem is I don’t have the discipline to do it, and I don’t want to have to go onto the internet to drag files that I could more quickly and easily access from my hard drive.
What I really want is to mirror the files that I have on my hard drive, onto an online file system. I then have the option to either download files straight from the server if I’m at a public terminal or to synchronise to a second or third machine I might commonly use.
Ironically, I think it will be this form of offline file system that will make online applications work.
I’ve posted before on the wonders of Google Spreadsheet. It’s THE best collaborative tool I’ve EVER used for ad hoc collaborative projects (and let’s face it thats the nature of these things). But it kills me when I’m using my laptop and I don’t have internet access and I can’t get to the files.
However, if my Google Spreadsheet documents save to my GDrive, which then synchronises itself with my laptop, so that I can then open the files in Open Office, save then and then when I reconnect the spreadsheet on GDrive updates, then that’s where this gets very interesting.
Synchronisation is gold, people. I hope thats what GDrive is going to deliver.
Oh, and I thought I might mention. I had pretty much given up on both Writely and Zoho Writer because of the above limitations and because unlike Google Spreadsheet, they weren’t truly collaborative because two people weren’t able to edit the document at the same time.
Zoho Writer now has fixed that issue. Two or more users can colloborate on a document, which it does by locking off a paragraph someone else is working on, rather than the file itself. Like Google Spreadsheet’s collaborative capabilities it makes a world of difference.
Simultaneous collaboration + Online/Offline = Squash in computing heaven