Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Cloudy but bright forecast: Internet Writing Software

Courtesy of Google
It may not be Skynet, but cloud-computing and software in general are getting pretty powerful. Thanks to Microsoft, Google, Zoho, and, consumers have a wide array of Office software to utilize and much of it taking place in the cloud. Whatever their plans, there’s a way to do it. And, there are plenty of free options. But, for the purposes of this post, we’ll focus on the best products for writers, especially in the realm of collaboration.

If you have been following the blog at all, because we know that you’re religiously addicted to it, then you’ll remember our last blog was about Collaboration. Thus, here we discuss the actual software that you might use while involved in the art.

The first is an obvious choice: Google Docs. The Google-bought service started out as a writing cloud-based service, but then evolved into the first free, online easy-to-use software suite. Of course, you can pay for it, which will provide higher quality collaboration efforts, as well as larger storage space, but you’ll be fine without it on a consumer basis. For now.

The great thing about Google Docs is the real-time collaboration. We wrote our past blog exactly like that. This allowed us a more dynamic, see-it-happening approach. There IS NOT OTHER suite online with such capability. And it auto-saves. And it’s available on any OS platform. And it works with Android (Google product). And, well, it’s lovely. You can share your documents with others, and even mark it as “viewing only”. And, don’t worry about privacy rights. You control them, and thanks to meta-data, people will know you created it first. Yay! But, it’s not a full-functioning office suite. So, if you need real advanced formatting and editing, or even a good spell-checker or style-checker, good luck, you won’t get it here, yet. But, there is a dictionary and word-count and bare-bones spell-checker. Maybe that means you’ll have to learn the English language.

Next in line we have Zoho. In an interface very similar to Microsoft Office, Zoho is somewhat of an underdog in cloud computing. They have a full Office Suite, and users can use it for free, unless, like Google Docs, they want more storage, etc. I have used it before, and it can even sync with your Google Docs account! Yay. But, I still prefer Google Docs. However, you might like it more, and more power to you.

But, we can’t forget Microsoft Office. It is the best out there. It’s also expensive. But, it can do everything and more. So, if you like it and don’t need real-time collaboration (yet), then I’d suggest you use it. Plus, if you have Windows running, you can use cloud-based web-apps, or just sync to the server (like a super-powered Google Docs in that way). But, many people find it easier overall to use Google Docs, especially the Information Age generation.

And then Well, now that Oracle owns it, perhaps it’s best to go where the actual developers moved to: LibreOffice. Go to to get it. You won’t be sorry. And LibreOffice is fashioned after which is fashioned after Microsoft Office. It’s incredibly capable, just takes a little more savviness. But, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Well, that’s it for now, folks. Hopefully this post has helped some. Stay away from Oracle, consider cloud-based office suites, but never, ever, believe that one product will always be the worst or best forever. Times change, and so does software.


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