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Thursday, 17 August 2006 08:22

Writely can quite rightly be called great

I'm writing this article on an online wordprocessor called Writely, which as many of us know is produced by a company acquired by Google in March this year. It has taken a long time for Google to release the product to beta. However, from first impressions, the wait has been worth it. Watch out Microsoft - this product is seriously good.

The Writely user interface is simple, it has all the necessary features that most of us use in a wordprocessor, including a good range of fonts, spell checker, an undo and redo function, cut and paste, bullets, numbering, tables and so on. You can set background and text colors - the list goes on.

True, Writely doesn't have all those additional features that we sometimes use in Word to make things like birthday cards, set page sizes and so on. However, for the stock standard wordprocessing we do 90% of the time it's fine. For an online journalist like me it's perfect.

What's more Writely saves your work continually every  30 seconds or so and allows you to save and open the document you're working on instantaneously in Word, OpenOffice, Rich Text Format and PDF. So if you want to save your documents to your own disk and do the fancy things in Word or OpenOffice after you've done the initial stuff in Writely, that's fine.

However, the thing that impressed me more than anything about Writely is its performance. It really is easy to forget that you're working on an online document.

Admittedly, I have a pretty good cable internet connection. However, the last time I tested out an AJAX based online wordprocessor, I simply laughed and thought that maybe 10 years from now the technology might be ready for public consumption. This is just a beta I'm working on and already I'm a convert.

I could also go on about features that I haven't had time to test fully yet, such as the collaboration feature which enables you to invite other users to work on the same document or the blog posting feature, or the automatic revisions history, which keeps track of the changes you've made. However, I have seen enough to convince me that the future of wordprocessing is here right now with Writely.

Finally, I apologize if this article sounds too much like a commercial for Google's product. It's not meant to be. I would not say the same thing about Google Spreadsheet. However, my initial article on this product is now complete and the proof is in the pudding.

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Stan Beer


Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 30 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.





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