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At least I didn't mentione Web 2.0 in the post...
August 21, 2006 9:54 AM   Subscribe

Google's word processor (re)launches. Formerly known as Writely, the online application, with all kinds of nifty collaborative features, joins a wide range of free online word processors, including the decent Zoho (you can see reviews of many online word processors here). Want to do presentations instead? Check out Thumbstacks or ThinkFree (with 1 GB of storage). If drawing is your thing, try Litha-Paint, or use SnipShot to crop pictures and save them to Flickr or your computer. Even GE's gotten into the free web application act with their no-registration-required collaborative whiteboard. And the number of free web applications just keeps growing...
posted by blahblahblah (52 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
I am going to give my data up to any whim and desire to gain what exactly?

maybe I get a slow web based interface that doesn't really have all the functions I am used to, maybe I get some advertising to boot, maybe I relinquish all responsibility for data in my care to some server somewhere....

Still a lot of issues to be sorted out with the next gen web as apps conundrum.
posted by Funmonkey1 at 9:59 AM on August 21, 2006


For the record, SnipShot, Litha-Paint, and the GE Whiteboard need no registration. Some Bugmenots for the others:

Writerly: kamela@dodgeit.com/fuckyou
Zohowriter: poodle@mailinator.com/poodle
Thumbstacks:bugmenot@mailinator.com/bugmenot
posted by blahblahblah at 10:06 AM on August 21, 2006


I am going to give my data up to any whim and desire to gain what exactly?

I've been very skeptical about apps-in-a-web-browser too, but if the Writely collaboration feature is good, that could be it's killer feature. There's a genuine and growing need for collaborative editing, and the main competitor (MS Word) really stinks at it.
posted by Western Infidels at 10:08 AM on August 21, 2006


I've been using Writely on my last few manuscripts and the collaboration feature has been a godsend -- especially when you've got a co-author and editor who both need to make changes and access a document simultaneously.

Word's track changes function sucks so badly all dust is removed from my household surfaces if I fire it up. (Hey, maybe that's ITS killer app -- housecleaning through severe sucking).

Plus, I don't have to be on my home machine to log in and see what's going on -- great when I am working elsewhere, on vacation, etc.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:15 AM on August 21, 2006


So depite the fact that data storage devices and processing power are less expensive than ever before, these companies want us to save our data on their servers (subject to their indexing and advertising keyword analysis I'm sure), then ping the internet every time I interact with it? I liked this idea better when it was called mainframe computing.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:15 AM on August 21, 2006


Access from any capable computer, no installation/administration. These two are big deals to a lot of people.
posted by Firas at 10:18 AM on August 21, 2006


I use Writely to work on long essays I want to post online, and I usually write them on my laptop. But I do editing and posting on my desktop computer, so it's a handy thing to have it all online and not have to transfer files to myself between two computers (which should be way simpler in this day and age than it is).

Also, I use 1/100 of the features of Word, and could get by on Writely alone.
posted by mathowie at 10:21 AM on August 21, 2006


I just uploaded a document to Writely and the variable-width thing is super annoying. I can't find a feature to fit the document to a standard (or any) page size. I got excited there (briefly) about the possibilities of editing my thesis online and having my advisors be able to take a look (and edit it) whenever they want.

I'd be looking for standard page sizing and EndNote support before I considered switching.
posted by jimmythefish at 10:21 AM on August 21, 2006


I've written roughly 40-50 university papers using Writely. I can't afford a laptop, or until recently, even a flash drive. Being able to work on something while I'm at a friends' house, or at school, or whatever, is the main reason I use online apps like this. I did use the writeboards in Backpack for a while (which were great for writing papers on my Sidekick 2), but in the end it was too difficult having to format the plaintext stuff into a class-presentable form (name at the top, works cited/footnotes, etc).

And blahblahblah, you say that it's "formerly known as Writely"? I went there, and it still says writely.

I was actually thinking about this the other day, and hoping that they would add a search function to allow you to search for words/phrases across every document you've ever written. You know, because Google bought them and stuff.
posted by dihutenosa at 10:23 AM on August 21, 2006


Oh, wait. It looks like they already have a search function. Not an amazing one, but it's there. Sorry.
posted by dihutenosa at 10:26 AM on August 21, 2006


Access from any capable computer, no installation/administration. These two are big deals to a lot of people.

Also, it's free. That helps.
posted by Jairus at 10:26 AM on August 21, 2006


Never have to update your computer again.
posted by smackfu at 10:27 AM on August 21, 2006


Apparently Writely doesn't support Safari.
posted by sveskemus at 10:29 AM on August 21, 2006


As someone in publishing, Writely looks like a much more useful word processor than Word, which, let's face it, is a total nightmare.

Needs a word count feature, though. Unless I'm missing it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:31 AM on August 21, 2006


Can it automatically destroy my formatting and change the spelling of words it doesn't understand?
posted by Mister_A at 10:33 AM on August 21, 2006


Needs a word count feature, though. Unless I'm missing it.

Click the little arrow next to Edit and select "count words."
posted by blahblahblah at 10:33 AM on August 21, 2006


Whoo hoo!
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:34 AM on August 21, 2006


Another (relatively) long term writely user here. Have a few issues with some of the Mac browsers but on the whole I love the convenience of being able to edit documents from home, work or wherever without having to remember a USB dongle. I do take fairly regular back-ups, especially when something is finished. Worth signing up for being able to make emergency last-minute job-specific changes to a CV, if for nothing else; but having stuff on hand makes it so much easier for me to summon the energy to get on with a school assignment.
posted by nthdegx at 10:35 AM on August 21, 2006


How many people can edit a document at once?

Each document can only be shared with up to 50 people, which means up to 50 people can edit a document at once. As long as people aren't editing the same part of the text in that document, there shouldn't be any conflicts.
That's pretty cool.
posted by Kickstart70 at 10:36 AM on August 21, 2006


So, is there a feature to edit in a fixed width in Writely? Am I just missing it? I'd need to add headers and footers.

Page numbering in Word, alone, is enough to make me want to punch Microsoft in teh nuts.
posted by jimmythefish at 10:37 AM on August 21, 2006


And while I dispute the concept of web 2.0 in many ways, the last link is a useful collection.
posted by nthdegx at 10:42 AM on August 21, 2006


Way cool. Thank you.
posted by nickyskye at 10:45 AM on August 21, 2006


Another long time Writely user. I use it to co-author articles (and grocery lists). It's a great tool, but it needs several things to become a killer app.

Folders. Don't tell me tags are better, I need folders. I'm Humanoid 1.0, I won't ever get used to 2.0 stuff like tags (they're horizontal! It confuses me!).

It needs the fixed page width and even formatting that I'm used to from Word (my employer uses Word, as do most people, so it would make sense to import Word templates and macros).
posted by NekulturnY at 10:53 AM on August 21, 2006


Word templates and macros smack of featuritis! Down with that sort of thing! ;)
posted by nthdegx at 10:59 AM on August 21, 2006


Writely is nice (although I've never quite forgiven it for losing a document of mine a few months back), but I wish these Ajaxy Web 2.0 things would go a little... faster. At the moment, it feels like trying to use a word processor through treacle.
posted by reklaw at 11:00 AM on August 21, 2006


but they don't have the animated paperclip thing that makes me want to kill, or am i missing that?
posted by snofoam at 11:09 AM on August 21, 2006


Typeface changes do not work properly.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:12 AM on August 21, 2006


(although I've never quite forgiven it for losing a document of mine a few months back)

This is the flaw in these types of programs that bothers me the most. It only takes one accident which loses a mass of docs or exposes docs to the world for all confidence in the program to disappear. The expectation is perfection for privacy and safeguards. Google has done well at this so far, but that is a high standard to have to meet.
posted by aburd at 11:15 AM on August 21, 2006


Why Google didn't integrate their login system? Seems kind of silly to have yet another login.
posted by smackfu at 11:17 AM on August 21, 2006


Why Google didn't integrate their login system?

That is being added. I'm guessing the final product will look like the Flickr login page with two options available.
posted by aburd at 11:24 AM on August 21, 2006


We just wrote an edited a seriesof short pieced for the paper I work for using Writely. It works quite nicely, although typefaces get a little temperamental in Safari.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:37 AM on August 21, 2006


if the Writely collaboration feature is good, that could be it's killer feature

Exactly. I have been collaborating on a grant proposal via Whiteboard.com, which sucks pretty bad for anything other than plain text. I just moved it over to Writerly and it looks so much better.
posted by LarryC at 11:38 AM on August 21, 2006


How do you do macro viruses on it?
posted by eatitlive at 11:43 AM on August 21, 2006 [1 favorite]


Can I change to a serif font? I need to feel like every word I write drips with literary flair, and I can't do that with goofy-assed Verdana.
posted by xmutex at 11:46 AM on August 21, 2006


Impact is a typeface option. What the fuck?
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:51 AM on August 21, 2006


doesn't work in my browser.
posted by muppetboy at 11:51 AM on August 21, 2006


However, this does raise the interesting possibility of Massively-Multiplayer-Online-Spellchecking.
posted by eatitlive at 11:51 AM on August 21, 2006 [1 favorite]


xmutex: "Can I change to a serif font? I need to feel like every word I write drips with literary flair, and I can't do that with goofy-assed Verdana."


I thought you're suppose to use comic sans for that.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 12:27 PM on August 21, 2006


Writely's good stuff, especially for collaborations. Way handier than emailing revision n+1 back and forth.
posted by muckster at 12:46 PM on August 21, 2006


I don't know if anybody's answered this, but can Writerly files be saved in *.doc format?
posted by Gordion Knott at 1:18 PM on August 21, 2006


Yep.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:35 PM on August 21, 2006


I wrote my first novel in writely and have recently been using for a lot of colaborative projects at the office where my co-workers can't seem to grasp the track changes feature in Word. For the most part writely has been well accepted and I personally love the hell out of it.
posted by DragonBoy at 2:21 PM on August 21, 2006


why does this thread smack of viral marketing for writely?
posted by Funmonkey1 at 2:33 PM on August 21, 2006


Funmonkey, mathowie must be in their pocket. How deep does the Google conspiracy go!
posted by blahblahblah at 2:57 PM on August 21, 2006


Doesn't seem to work in Firefox-- I keep getting "Redirection limit exceeded for this URL. Unable to load the requested page. This may be due to cookies that are blocked" even though I'm allowing cookies. Am I just missing something here?
posted by koeselitz at 3:13 PM on August 21, 2006


blahblahblah, the rabbit hole runs deep. Hehe, just kidding!

What I do understand is there are different word processors for different things, much like the WordStar debates of old.
posted by Funmonkey1 at 3:18 PM on August 21, 2006


Why do you hate Writely?
posted by smackfu at 3:42 PM on August 21, 2006


I like writely. It's a quick and easy way to post stuff online. I use it both at work and at home. Hey, it's just another free source of webhosting. And since it's owned by google, it will still be around in a year -- unlike a lot of other betas.

Why the snottiness? Writely has nothing to do with saving your priceless data, top secret work info and personal info online. That's a completely different issue.

If you don't like it, don't use it. It will just free up more space for me.
posted by bim at 6:02 PM on August 21, 2006


What I'd really love is something like this that I could install on a server and hit remotely. The server-side load can't be that high -- just file management and the occasional spell-check. I spent a little time last week trying to hack something together with Drupal and TinyMCE, and that wouldn't be terribly hard, but that wouldn't have real-time collaboration.
posted by lodurr at 6:41 AM on August 22, 2006


bim, I don't see "hate", here. If you want to see hate, you should have a look at some of the old early-90s "your word processor sux" threads on Usenet. Vitriol flowed freely. Many moderator messages were sent. I got some of them. ;)

You are right, Writely et al are not for some people. I personally would never trust my work to a free service. I don't give a crap who runs it -- and actually I feel a lot less warm and fuzzy with Google running it than I might with somebody else, simply because I know they'll be data-mining it. I don't care what they say they won't do with the results -- I don't trust anyone who tries that hard to make people thing they're "not evil."

Give me a for-profit model with a guarantee of confidentiality, and then I might be interested, personally. I'll be interested from a business perspective a long time before I'm interested personally.
posted by lodurr at 6:55 AM on August 22, 2006


sveskemus said:
Apparently Writely doesn't support Safari.
Writely doesn't support Safari or Safari doesn't support Writely? I've found a number of in-browser apps break in Safari, which is frustrating as it's an otherwise killer browser. I have WordPress installed for my blog but find that, in order to do quick editing, I have to use Firefox if I want a rich text, HTML editor. I'm normally a bare-bones kinda gal, but sometimes it's nice not have to think about it too much.

So far, messing around with Writely has been great, but again, I'm only doing so through Firefox, which is the browser I use on my Winblows PC at work.
posted by blatant gizmo at 10:26 AM on August 22, 2006


bim, I don't see "hate", here...

Uh...lodurr, I didn't use the word hate to be technical about things.

Yeah, I know google has become large and ubiquitous and is starting to prompt hatred like many folks have for Microsoft. It just seems silly and knee-jerk to me.

Google is offering a bunch of free tools -- as do a million other betas -- on the internet. It's like Christmas every day. Some of the tools are very useful IMHO (Writely, Gmail, Google Earth) and some are not (google video, google spreadsheets).

I say take what you like and leave the rest. Nobody is holding a gun to anyone's head. And I fully agree that the privacy implications of any online product should be considered.

But if folks are dumb enough to use any online tool without pondering the privacy implications of doing so, well that's their problem. Caveat emptor and all that.

I wouldn't trust anything other than music and photos to an online storage place. I doubt that you can EVER insure confidentiality.
posted by bim at 11:24 AM on August 22, 2006


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