Phil Sim

Web, media, PR and… footy

C’mon Google fix Docs formatting

As anyone who has read this blog before would know, I’m a big Google Apps user. So I’ve been following the latest thread emenating out of Read/Writer Web regarding Gapps vs MSOffice.

For me, the two killer features for Gapps are:

  • Accessibility
  • Collaboration

I’ve been using three to four computers for a number of years now and I simply have to have my documents stored in the cloud. Robert Scoble notes this as his reason for moving more of his apps online. However, as Lunn identifies once you get hooked up on the collaborative abilities of online apps you simply can’t go back to shared drives or emailing files about.

However, Google REALLY needs to fix Docs. Docs is fine is you don’t want to print what you’re writing and considering most of what I write appears online, that’s ok. But as soon as you are writing for print, Docs is awful. If you’re copying and pasting text from different sources and using tables and so forth, you end up with a document that looks nothing like you might imagine. Any if you’re formatting goes awry, the only way to generally fix it, is to copy it all into notepad take out all the formatting and start again. Indeed, most occasions I find myself starting with a fresh document, copying all the text from notepad and then formatting again.

Ryan Stewart in another post says that the answer is Adobe Air. The problem for me and this is something I’ve riffed about before is that once you commit to a suite, it’s really hard to move away. So even if Buzzword or Zoho have a better word processor, I’m unlikely to give up Docs or any particular piece of the Gapps suite because that’s where all my files live now.

Interestingly, Bernard Lunn describes Docs as being mature while Spreadsheets is in development. As far as I’m concerned Spreadsheets is far more developed than Docs. We’ve managed to build remarkably complex applications in Spreadsheets and especially with recent developments like Forms and the improved charting, I have no reason to ever use Excel again. Yet I still find myself booting up Word for most print jobs.

I saw a comment in a Google Docs forum, which said that until Docs had true WYSIWYG it would always falls short. I tend to agree. I’d like to think the lack of development on the Docs front is because Google is working on a significant improvement to ironing out these formatting problems.

By the way, I’d like to thank Bernard Lunn for prompting me to check out Remember the Milk again. Bernard’s original post mentioned that RTM now integrated with Gmail and after downloading the Firefox extension, I’m in raptures. It is brilliant and I can’t understand how Google hasn’t already snapped up Bob the Monkey and his co-workers.

Filed under: AJAX Challenge

7 Responses

  1. I would love to see RTM become part of Google, indeed. I have doubts about the likelihood of that happening, though…

  2. blogoscoped says:

    Google should really allow you to paste in plain text, agreed. Their styling buttons are also often broken, e.g. pressing “italics” will not result in anything, or pressing “remove formatting” in one section suddenly breaks the whole page’s styling and so on.

  3. Elle says:

    Yeah — I just started sharing in docs, first third of the page is fine and then its all got lumped together. Impossible!

    Any tips?

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