A quick review of Google Docs changes

Tools

Google Docs (NASDAQ: GOOG) made some changes to its word processor this week. Some of the tweaks are good and some not so good.

Let's start out with the positive stuff first. They have changed to a page metaphor complete with a ruler at the top of the page, meaning instead of the huge web page that was displayed before, it now looks like a page as in any word processor. It gives you a better sense of your layout and length than you had before, and it's going to be more comfortable for people making the transition from a desktop word processor like Microsoft Word (NASDAQ: MSFT) (which could explain why they did it).

What's a little bizarre about this change is that I'm only seeing it when I click File > New > Document. If I start from my Google Docs management page, I get the old view. Same goes if I try to start a new document using the GMail Google Docs gadget. It's a bit strange that it hasn't been implemented across the board, but I expect that will come slowly over time.

On the downside, they've taken away some useful tools. The one I'll miss most is the Edit HTML, which lets you see the layout with HTML codes. It's very useful sometimes when working with a web-based word processor to be able to get under the hood and I'm disappointed it's no longer there. Google has also removed all but two tools, the most perplexing being the spell checker. I'm guessing they assume the spelling is being checked inline in the browser, but it's a word processor. People expect a spell checker. They have also removed the translation tool and several other useful goodies.

Google has also updated sharing and collaboration as well as importing. Overall, I like the layout change, but I'm going to miss some of the tools they decided to remove.

For more:
- see the Google Docs help text post

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