July 9, 2008

Over the last couple of weeks, I have added a new tool to my writing arsenal. Google Docs. If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s Google’s latest attempt to gain space in the Office market. It’s a free web based Office suite entailing a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation app. It is currently still in BETA (would you expect anything else from Google?) and it originally was formed from the purchase and collaboration of the web app Writely.

Since then Google has added both spreadsheet and presentation functionality.

But what makes it so great?  Why should you uninstall Microsoft Office from your Mac or PC and embrace Google Docs? – here are five reasons.


One of the most interesting features of Google Docs is the ability to collaborate on documents and share them with ease. So, say you were working on a report and needed to share a few points or even do a communal edit. With Google Docs it is as simple as clicking a button to make someone a collaborator, which then gives the new user the ability to edit and add new collaborators. Therefore, you no longer make the mistake of having the old version of that document.

Very simply, you can use Google Docs as a simple Wiki – something a lot of companies are starting to embrace.

Easy Access

Google Docs is obviously web based.  This means that you can access a lot of your documents online wherever you are. This can be incredibly important if you’re jumping between multiple machines, or don’t have your personal computer with you. Now some may say that with something like Sky Drive you are able to upload the documents and then download them when you want to. But with that there are two extra steps that really aren’t needed – the downloading and uploading.

The whole point to this state of mind is that if you want it, it’s there.  If someone else wants it…it’s there.


It’s ridiculous how many features a program such as Microsoft Word actually has, especially when most average users probably use what? 5% of the power that Word has. Whose fault is this? No one’s.  People expect new features with a new release, so it is expected that over time applications are going to become more “busy”. Of course there will be those that complain that this is a bad thing and detracts from how simple writing a document should be.

Google Docs has a very clean and intuitive interface which makes it easy and simple for even the novice user. That’s what I like about it. My grandparents get lost in Word, but in Google Docs, it is much simpler for them to get things done.  Sometimes less is better.

The user-interface is also reminiscent of the Office apps, just with less items on the menus – you won’t find yourself digging through every single feature looking for the blockquote option.


You can’t afford to loose your data and neither can Google. By having your data off site, things are less likely to go wrong.  If your laptop is stolen, no problem because all your documents are on Google Docs.  Some might say (just to be the Devil’s Advocate) that there could a problem, like a fire at a Data Center.  Though this is possible, Google probably has far more protective measures then your office does.

So basically, thanks to storing all your data with Google, you’re protecting yourself from any unforeseen problems.


When using Google Docs you are able to integrate everything that Google offers around the internet into your word processing. So you could have your iGoogle showing all of your newest documents, then you could send a file from Google Docs with your Gmail account. The possibilities are endless.

Also on the point of integration, for all you yet to be converted Word users, Google Docs also allows documents to be saved in the .doc format.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, five good (in my opinion) reasons why you should at least consider giving Google Docs a try. There may be a couple of things that Google still have left to incorporate (like page formatting), but all these things are easily remediable.

Do you use Google Docs?  If so, why?

Understanding the .htaccess file
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