Archive for the ‘Word processors’ Category

Why Google Doc?

April 13, 2008

I have used WordStar, Wordperfect and MS Office. At one point it was one of the best word processor and it was also cheap or free in the beginning. It was bundled freeof cost with the with windows operating system.

What is the problem now?

It is showing its age. Here is an article I wrote on the comparison that outlines my opinion about word processors. My main point is that monitor screen resolution is about 100-130 dot per inch and that is way less then the printed page that is about 1400 dpi. Considering this we do not need very precise text and picture layout for screen reading that is needed for a page that is being composed for printing. What does become important is sharing of documents and online collaborative writing and automatic document version availability. All newer programs like Google doc and ZOHO writer provide it as a default setting. Automatic version control was the biggest selling point for Wiki’s. Now that is also available for other types of document formats. MS Word was developed to produce printed pages and manuscripts not for the use of shared writing and collaboration. By adding office Live to MS office some of these functions are now possible.

Here is an article that compares MS office+Office live to Google doc on feature by feature basis

The workspace feature in office live comes from Groove. It is very nice feature where a person can create workspaces for each project he is working on with all the tools and the people needed to complete that project.

More articles:
Why Google Apps is a Serious Threat to Microsoft Office

Personally, I like the minimalist approach of Google docs. I am sure they will add feature as demands grow for them but I am beginning to think that we should use programs who do a lot with the least amount of features and based upon the work flow philosophy. Even MS word 2007 has a very similar interface as Google doc. May be more features but the interface is workflow based. I do not like MS word’s document html source. It works but is really messy. Google doc produce a clean html source for the document.

ZOHO interface is still based upon the old user interface design ideas that is why it appears cluttered. Also, their document html source contains separate a css file. All this creates problem when one is taking their doc and trying to manually post the document to a web server.

Here is another article that discusses the usage statistics of all these different applications. Interesting part of the article is this figure that shows the page views for these software applications. Google docs are in a clear lead. It shows the Growth in the usage and Google doc is way ahead of the pack.

Also, now the trend is towards simplicity in digital content creation and there is more emphasis on sharing and starting a conversation through discussion. Notice the starting page of Google search and compare it with home pages of popular web sites such as Microsoft and Yahoo. It is based upon minimalist design that provides user only the content that they need to complete their job. The Google web site is treated as a place where users complete their transaction i.e. search. No other information is provided but it is there buried behind the page.

Here is a video from TED talk that emphasizes simplicity for tech applications.

Another video that talk about the paradox of choices. Too may choices at the menu level makes programs difficult to learn and use.

These are some of the newer ideas. Now after going through all this are you still going to prefer your tried and tested software such as MS word or would you all reconsider your choices?

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