[Geekiness] Google Doc Changes

Recently, Google Docs underwent an upgrade. This was an upgrade that had been planned and talked about for the past year or so. The biggest visual change, it would seem would be to force users to switch from what was previously a fluid-based editor to a fixed-width view, which basically features a single page, and wastes a lot of space at the side. For a more detailed list of changes, and the workarounds, check out the GDocs help page detailing the changes here

I could do without the edit HTML and CSS functions. It makes posting to the blog a bit harder (because when they removed those options they also removed the ability to publish directly from GDocs to a self-hosted domain) but I could generally get away with simply copy pasting and then formatting the text manually. A bit troublesome, as I said, but still something that I could work around.

However, I refuse to use the new GDocs simply because of the @^@$&@*$%* fixed-width format. For people who work on a variety of screens, the current page format means a lot of screen areas are lost due to the fixed-width format. The format may be useful for those who’re still printing, but it’s absolutely useless for writers who write almost exclusively for the Web. The current workaround is to change the layout from portrait to landscape and the page size from letter to A4.

Which doesn’t really work, according to this particular thread. In fact, it makes it worse and drives a lot of users to drop GDocs in favour of other online writing suites, like Zoho Writer, which is what I’m using now. If Google Docs’ aim is to drive the Writely users away, then I think they have succeeded. In case you wanted to know what the difference was, compare the look of the documents in the old editor vs the new. The older one would automatically resize to whatever screen size you had, while the new one will stretch your screen to accommodate the size you have. Irritating? Yes. Unproductive? Yes. Design by engineers with no input from users? I believe so.

Another reason why I dislike the new GDocs editor is what I suspect is a feature to stop people from losing changes if their Internet connection dropped. Once Google Docs realises they have no connection to the server, the editing page locks up, and you can’t add text nor make changes. What you will get are greyed out functions everywhere, and the editor will just lock up. At the same time, if you’re trying to import a large amount if text (think 20k + of nothing but pure text), make sure you have a fast Internet connection or you’ll receive a script error AND have your screen lock up. I didn’t face this problem with the old editor. I’d get a message that I’d lost Internet connection and could I please copy paste my work into another document/somewhere else so I wouldn’t lose it? That, in my opinion, was a much better and friendlier way to get things done.

In summary? Thanks for driving away your users, Google Docs.

PS: This blog post was posted directly to WordPress via Zoho Writer, a functionality that GDocs lost more than a year ago.
PPS: Originally published this with the text styles intact that made a mess when I posted this to the blog. Previously the only way to remove this was to go into the blog and remove the additional text styles manually. Now though, Zoho Writer has a remove all text styles" so I can write the way I want to, but when I publish, it publishes well. Or so I hope.

Nope, it would seem I still have to look at an ugly font code. Hmm.

1 Response

  1. fred muc September 11, 2011 / 6:08 PM

    since the 2011-upgrade in doc google writer, it is no more possible to have merge cells in a table (for instance, copy-pasted from an internet page).

    in zoho, i can copy-paste from other documents or internet pages, all kind of tables with merged-cells. BUT i can also merge cells in a table.

    this is the reason why i use Zoho and no more Doc Google Writer since google stopped the old editor (for me, forced middle august 2011)….

    merged-cells are needed in all documents, in all internet pages… merged-cells exist in html since tables exist in html.

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