Google docs – My experiences so far

I have been using Google Docs for quite a while now and thought I might write about my experiences. I love Google Docs, but there is a long way to go before they can replace Microsoft Office. The advantage of Google Docs being in the cloud is great. This can be achieved using Microsoft Office and Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office, however this is not a very polished product. The toolbar also take up a lot of valuable space on the screen and cannot be minimized.

There are a lot of features in Microsoft Word that I never use. These are great features, I just have no use for them and so won’t miss them. When I used to be a programmer I used a lot of the features such as macros and Visual Studio Tools for Office to make add-ins. Google Spreadsheets. Google docs doesn’t have any sort of scripting in the documents. although the spreadsheets can.

Microsoft Office is absolutely fantastic for keyboard shortcuts, and what can’t be done with shortcuts can easily be done with macros.

These are the features I found difficult with Google Documents:

  • When inserting a new row in a table the the mouse has to be clicked in the cell to start editing. This should happen by default.
  • If text is copied from one cell in a table and pasted it to another, the content isn’t copied but a whole table structure is inserted in the cell.
  • When clicking ‘update’ on a Table of Contents, the table scrolls down and the button has to be clicked again to actually update. This doesn’t always happen, but seems to be when the table of contents gets longer.
  • When copying a table where the first row has a background colour, the first cell loses its background colour which then has to be reset.
  • There are no table styles
  • There are no table captions or figure captions

The list could be a lot longer, but for the vast majority of the document work I do this works well for me. The collaboration aspect is great, I like being able to edit the document at the same time as others and having  discussions during it. Never having to save the document is fantastic, and what I believe should be the future of all computer documents.

To overcome the final few weaknesses with Google docs what I have been doing is to do all the collaboration in Google Docs and then to export the document as a Microsoft Word document. The resulting document is excellent quality and then I place it in Microsoft SharePoint to enable versioning. I would like to be able to do this in Google docs, but it is not as strong as Microsoft SharePoint for document management.

The one other issue with Google docs is document corruption. I have had two documents become corrupt. I suspect this was due to the recent pagination update. Google don’t seem too concerned with customer support and leave it up to the community to support themselves. I reported this issue on the forum but have not seen a solution to it yet.

In conclusion, I am sold on Google docs for its collaborative features,  its cloud storage/access anywhere paradigm and ease of use. If I need more complex documents such as extensive cross-referencing then I still use Microsoft Word.

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