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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Online word processing -- solved

I've found it: the best online word processor (and spreadsheet and presentation application) currently available. ThinkFree Office Online is built with three Java applets (remember those?) which act just like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Accounts are free to 30MB; save online or local, in Office or PDF file format, and OpenOffice formats are coming. Print without leaving the applet, although page setup is abstracted from the actual hardware you're printing to (since the print driver is outside the Java applet sandbox).

Java applets have the nice "feature" compared to web apps that you aren't in grave danger of accidentally losing all your current work by clicking on the wrong link, as everyone has experienced when composing a HotMail. That's exactly what happened to me the first time I sampled Writely, so I have no desire to use it again. Update: I can't reproduce this problem in Writely, but it did happen (the data is not in revision history), and I was quite surprised and baffled at the time that it happened. Even assuming the problem would never happen again (auto-saving every 5-seconds sounds nice), composing HTML just isn't what I'm looking for. ThinkFree helped me realize what I want: I want to be able to be able to create a document or spreadsheet file online, save it locally and edit in MS Office or OpenOffice, and upload again later, with no doc transformation at any point. Oh, and be able to export as PDF. Nice.

Frankly, can't find anything wrong with the ThinkFree option, other than that installing the Java applet requires rights on the local box that you might not be granted in an Internet cafe or at the library.


  • At 10:03 PM , Blogger Jen said...

    Brad, I'm on the Writely team and we want to understand what happened with your experience using Writely. Docs in Writely are saved automatically every 5 don't even have to click the save button. Did you try clicking on the Revisions tab? I'm 99% certain that your work was preserved in the Revision history. Anyway, we'd really like to understand what happened, so please please contact us. - Jen


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