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A Quick Look at Google Docs

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The Bottom Line

Google is jumping on the Office 2.0 bandwagon by providing Internet applications with the potential of replacing the software in your small business or home office. Google Docs, which is still in beta, is an exciting project that includes a word processor, a spreadsheet, and presentation software.

The beta still has a few bugs, and the applications lack any cross-integration, so you cannot link your spreadsheet to your presentation, or your presentation to your word processing document. The applications are also still lacking in the features department.

Still, Google Docs is a step in the right direction.

Pros

  • Free with your Google account
  • No worrying about software upgrades
  • Ability to export to many different formats

Cons

  • Still in beta, and still a little buggy
  • No cross-integration
  • Lacks some basic features
  • Not very pretty

Description

  • Includes a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation software
  • Upload from and export to a variety of different formats
  • Easy access to your documents from multiple computers

Guide Review - A Quick Look at Google Docs

At present, Google Docs is a fine product if your biggest test for a spreadsheet is balancing your checkbook. And, if you mainly use a word processor for writing letters, Google Docs can do the trick. But, if you are ready to write the next Harry Potter, you might want to look elsewhere.

The interface is a little rough, especially the word processor. Par for the course with Google, they have gone for simplicity over elegance. And it shows. But, all the bells and whistles in the world don't make a word processor more useful. While the word processor lacked one very basic feature I use on a regular basis -- the ability to automatically indent the first line of a paragraph -- I do like the idea of writing on a thin word processor. I've often felt like using Microsoft Word for the documents I write is like using a sledge hammer to hang a picture.

The spreadsheet supports common functions like totaling up a column or adding two cells together. You can even create a function by typing in the name of the function and highlighting the cells you want it to cover, similar to other spreadsheets. It also supports multiple sheets, and you can import your existing Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.

The presentation software might be where the lack of bells and whistles really shows. After all, bells and whistles are great for sparking up a rather bland topic. Currently, the presentation is limited to text and pictures. And the lack of integration with the word processor and, more importantly, the spreadsheet, makes it less than ideal, except for very simple presentations.

Despite its issues, Google Docs is worth taking a look at if you need a word processor or spreadsheet to perform simple tasks. And I was able to write out the rough draft of this review using Google Docs. So, it is certainly up for tasks beyond just writing a letter.

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