Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Google Office

Let's go Google Office!

Already, Google is being termed as synonym to Internet. Can you imagine internet without Google? A total no-no. There were Dozens of Internet applications and services that had already been released by Google, and counting. The latest being an online spreadsheet program. (While writing these lines, news flashes that Google had released an online photo sharing service – PicasaOnline – which is similar to Yahoo’s Flickr.) Google had already acquired Writely, the online word processor application. It already had online e-mail and colander programs. For Google’s full Online Office suit, the only thing is remaining - an online presentation tool, which we can see coming out from Google’s lab any time from now on. The best thing is that, whatever Google is giving to its end users are absolutely free! Imagine the shape of Internet had there not been any Google!!

Benefits of an online office suit:

There are many true benefits of an online office suit. If an option be given, one should always prefer for an online office suit. Reason? Well, some countable are:

· You don’t need to install anything on your computer and your office suit will remain up-to-date, with its latest version in any given day, any given time. Online Office Suit can give you next-generation productivity solutions for platform independent, anytime, anywhere-computing. You can access your most documents from any computer anytime.

· You do not need to worry about storing, saving, sharing, accessing and making backup of files. Files will be saved and stored in secure Internet servers and will be instantly ready to share all across the globe, 24x7. You can access your files from anywhere in the world, using an internet PC.

· Your files will be safe and secure as never before. You need not worry to back them up for eventualities like hard disk failure etc., and you know, your files can be protected with strong encryption tools in secure servers.

· Cross platform compatibility – you only need a browser, and you can work with your file on any platform - Windows / Linux / UNIX / Macintosh etc.

· You can work from office, or home or from road – there is no barrier for location.

Some issues:

  • For taking true benefit of online office suit, you need an always on , reliable internet connection. Abrupt disconnection or noise in connection may lead to data loss, file corruptions and some unpredictable results.
  • Though you work on secure connection, still there are chances that your sensitive data may get sniffed by third party.
  • Agreed that your files are stored in secure, Internet servers. But, still, they are not in your hand. It may be not the case with mammoth companies like Google, but a small startup may wind up its operations and thus your files too may wipe up with them.

Barring these small issues, Online Office suit is all here to stay permantely, and no doubt, once they are available on mobile devices, most will use them primarily.

Writely – the online word processor :

Writely (http://www.writely.com ) the online word processor uses AJAX technology to its fullest. No wonder Google acquired it when it is still in its beta stage. Writely let's you create MS Word compatible document online and you can store / collaborate your document online. You can upload an existing document from your hard disk or save an existing online document to your hard disk. You need to register to use Writely. Presently, registration for Writely is available through invitation only – a Google style of making hype over nothing.

Writely supports OpenDocument format and it can handle documents created by OpenOffice and MS Office. With its premium service, it offers many value added service like export to PDF etc.

Working with Online Word processor like Writely are similar as other desktop word processor tool since most menus and commands are similar. It appears that office applications are gradually changing from shrink-wrapped software to web-based services.

Google Spreadsheet:

There were rumor that Google Spreadsheet (http://spreadsheets.google.com ) too is the result of some acquired startup, but in actual, it had come out right from Google Lab. Google spreadsheet is online spreadsheet program that supports import and export of documents in the .xls format used in Excel and the .csv (comma-separated values) format. You can work on your spreadsheet and simultaneously, chat and get help live right beside your online spreadsheet. Multiple sheets are also supported and, barring some display glitches, during actual test, it opens MS Excel sheet having multiple sheet without any problem. However, chart and graphics support have some bugs that needs to be cleared. Charts gets bizarre positions and does not displays as intended.

One special feature of Google Spreadsheet which needs special mention is – its vast collection of formulae. It has several hundred formulas built in, among which you simply choose, change a bit and use.

Presently, Google Spreadsheet lacks Macro support. Similarly, there is no direct print command. You need to convert Google Spreadsheet to HTML, then only you can print them. You will face problem in printing parts of spreadsheet. But, then, Google Spreadsheet is still in beta, not a full scale release, so who cares?

Life Beyond Google Office

There were many word/spreadsheet online application exists well before Google, who actually hyped them and made them popular. In fact, some of them have more functionality and stability than Google’s Writely or Google Spreadsheet. Thinkfree (http://www.thinkfree.com) has an online as well as Desktop Office suit which has great functionality, including Presentation suit, which Google lacks. Thumbstacks (http://www.thumbstacks.com ) is an online presentation tool which is great in delivering things. Within minutes you can build an impressive presentation either from scratch or from many readymade templates. Zohosheet (http://www.zohosheet.com) is an online Spreadsheet program having full functionality of a conventional spreadsheet program, but it has no Unicode support – Indian Languages are displayed as question marks (????). Similarly, there are many other online spreadsheet program worth mentioning are - SimDesk, Wikicalc, and Salesforce. Some popular online Word processing programs, you too can count upon are – TinyMCE (http://tinymce.moxiecode.com/ ), Webnote (http://www.aypwip.org/webnote/ ) and Jotspot (http://www.jotlive.com/ ). Most of them are free for personal use.

What about Microsoft?

Microsoft is not sleeping either. However, its reactions are sluggish as compared to Google – at least it appears so. Already it had started Microsoft Office Live (http://www.live.com ) where Microsoft may, one fine day, deliver everything online, including complete Office suit, that too, absolutely free, for personal use.

It appears that traditional shrink wrapped software release has lived its life, and the days of online applications have finally come.

So, why not, let us go Google Office?


I have served the Indian Nation as technocrat for more than twenty years. Presently I am working as freelance technical writer, technical consultant and technical translator. I have translated most stuffs of KDE / GNOME / XFCE in Hindi. Recently I have been awarded as Best Hindi Language Blogger by Microsoft’s BhashaIndia. You can have a glimpse of my other creativities at-





David Lee said...

Hi, you may want to look at EditGrid - http://www.editgrid.com for another online spreadsheet. It has very good unicode support so it should have no problem displaying indian language.

It also has an API to allow other applications to build around it.


Arvind said...

Nice post on Office 2.0, Ravishankar.

We will be providing Unicode support in Zoho Sheet soon. Also check out the other applications that Zoho offers, in particular Zoho Writer, online word processor & Zoho Show, the online presentation tool.

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