Geekzone: technology news, blogs, forums
Guest
Welcome Guest.
You haven't logged in yet. If you don't have an account you can register now.
Google stack days four: Google Docs good and bad
Posted on 2-Dec-2013 08:25 by Bill Bennett | Tags Filed under: Articles



Google Docs has its strengths. It is a great tool for collaborating with others on a writing project. Sharing the same document and making changes in real time is a powerful way of working on some shared editorial projects. For example, a team of journalists can quickly polish a document before it is published.

Until the last few months, Google Docs was the only practical option for real time sharing and collaboration.

That’s changed now that Microsoft has added the feature to its Office Web Apps and Apple has done something similar with Pages. All three companies now how real-time shared editing across their software suites.

Google Docs, otherwise ordinary

 

Take sharing out of the equation and Google Docs is a very ordinary word process with a number of serious shortcomings. I wouldn’t normally recommend it and I do my best to avoid using it. This is the main reason I wasn’t looking forward to spending a week working entirely in the Google stack.

For me Google Docs biggest problem is the lousy user interface.

It really doesn’t work well at all. My eyes are not what they were so I need to see relatively large-sized text on a page. With Microsoft Word, Apple Pages or any other writing tool I can simply zoom the text to a comfortable viewing size.

Browser woes

Because Google Docs is browser based, this means zooming a browser Window – that’s easy in itself.

The problem is that in most browsers, Google Chrome included, running on most operating systems Google Docs doesn’t handled zoomed documents at all well.

There’s a mismatch between the onscreen cursor and the actual text. So I might try and insert the cursor at a point in the text to type, only to find my words turn up at some other point elsewhere on the page.

If you’re just writing something for your own consumption, you can get around this by increasing the point size to something comical, say, 20 point, then reducing it when you send or publish the document. That’s awkward and fiddly.

ChromeBook is different

Now I’m sure more technical types can explain this, but none of this is a problem when I’m typing on the Acer ChromeBook 720C.

I suspect it isn’t a problem on Chrome OS in general – although I’d need to do more testing to know for certain. Which means the zoom-cursor-insert problem with Google Docs is somehow OS related rather than Chrome-related.

My other Google Docs gripe is that it is subject to other browser activity. By that I mean if you have Docs running in one browser tab and do something in another tab that breaks the browser, you lose the document.

Fortunately Google Docs does a grand job of auto-saving, so you rarely lose any work. On the other hand, it’s rare for a conventional word processor to keel over in this way. Chrome is far more stable on the ChromeBook, so this wasn’t a problem either.

A better Google Docs expereince

Either way, I found Google Docs a better experience on the ChromeBook than on my Mac or Windows machines.

Google Docs still has limitations. You can’t easily open two documents side-by-side, you can’t command-tab to other apps for cutting and pasting or research.

The other Google Docs user interface shortcomings don’t go away when you work on a ChromeBook.  And printing – yes some clients still need to see paper documents – is harder than with other word processors.

Respect

Overall, I came away from working on the ChromeBook with a new respect for Google Docs. It’s still not my favourite. I still don’t recommend it for professional writers. I still think Fairfax insisting its journalist use the software is a cruel, unusual punishment.

Yet I don’t think I’ll run screaming from the room the next time a paying client asks me to work in Google Docs. I’ll just ask them to buy me a Chromebook. Or add the price of one to the invoice.

[digitl 2013]

digitl on Google+







comments powered by Disqus


Trending now »

Hot discussions in our forums right now:

Bombing at Manchester concert, 19 dead
Created by Rikkitic, last reply by networkn on 28-May-2017 18:47 (170 replies)
Pages... 10 11 12


NZ Herald - Internet providers have backdoor access to customers' modems
Created by RunningMan, last reply by Oblivian on 27-May-2017 23:02 (28 replies)
Pages... 2


How much power do you use?
Created by tchart, last reply by wellygary on 28-May-2017 18:39 (25 replies)
Pages... 2


Father banned from watching daughter's netball game: what you think of this?
Created by Rikkitic, last reply by frankv on 25-May-2017 16:29 (136 replies)
Pages... 8 9 10


Tailgaters?
Created by Linuxluver, last reply by reg52nz on 25-May-2017 16:29 (113 replies)
Pages... 6 7 8


The President Of The USA: Donald Trump
Created by TimA, last reply by geekIT on 28-May-2017 13:27 (4370 replies)
Pages... 290 291 292


Tipping? Please no!
Created by BlueShift, last reply by cddt on 27-May-2017 10:10 (104 replies)
Pages... 5 6 7


Fibre 100/20 Mbps plan - should I get this speed
Created by steve2222, last reply by DarkShadow on 28-May-2017 10:14 (18 replies)
Pages... 2