In case you missed it: Google has brought Writely into the fold by integrating it with Google Spreadsheets (here’s my earlier mini-review of Spreadsheets). The result is Google Docs & Spreadsheets.
NB the old Writely URL www.writely.com now redirects to docs.google.com.
Logging in with your Google account leads to a welcome screen. An interesting aspect of the screen is that in the bar at the top you can just see the links to Google, Gmail, Calendar and Photos (i.e. Picasa), so they are increasingly bringing all of their services together.
I thought I’d try creating a new document. That was trivial. Clicking New Document produced an editor screen. The editor itself is very usable, even down to the “standard” keyboard shortcuts working within the editor within the browser. The File drop-down menu provides options to save locally in a variety of formats, including PDF… I tried this and it offered me a PDF download version of the document, which was exactly what I’d typed on-screen.
Next, I saved the document. I was curious to see how it would cope with importing a Word document, so I uploaded a trivial example. I was never a Writely user, so had no idea of what to expect. It worked fine, although I didn’t test out any of the more advanced features of Word. It looks like GD&S can support a range of document types including OO.o and HTML. It also supports uploading via e-mail, which I didn’t test.
There’s a nice, simple list view from which you can open and edit documents.
One interesting surprise was that Google allows you to publish the documents – either to the web via google.com URL, or to your blog. I tried the latter option. I configured GD&S to know about my blog, and then hit the Post to blog button – results here. I can’t see this displacing my normal blogging client, but it is a neat feature and “just works”.
Finally, I took a look back at Spreadsheets, which I haven’t had cause to use since my original mini-review. Nothing much has changed.
Other features that I didn’t try out were the Collaborate and Discuss tabs on the UI.
Overall, it is a pleasant experience. I think there’s a change of mindset required to move across to working with all my documents online, and there are clearly privacy / confidentiality issues for corporates. However, the interface is simple, consumable, and smooth. I’m impressed – but I’m not sure that it will become a central part of my computing experience.