Friday, June 5, 2009

Collaboration Tools - Part 2

To start part 2 of my ramble about collaboration I want to thank the 3 folks that commented on yesterday's post. Apparently this is a topic of interest. I promise to include each of these services in future posts.

But for now, as promised, here are my thoughts on Google Docs.

I have used Google Docs for about a year and a half on a limited basis. I find the Word processor very easy to work with. I personally have found the spreadsheet just different enough to make me not use it as much as I would like. I have played with the Presentation tool, but I have not used it for a final product.

My attraction to Google docs was not for collaboration, it was for storing things I needed access to as I traveled with a variety of computers. I was basically looking at it as an alternative to a flash drive. Of course I also have several flash drives.

I started using Google Docs as a way to keep several manually generated spreadsheet reports up to date and in sync. Each day I track many stats on my various web sites. I originally thought about just permanently moving these spreadsheets into Google Docs and working with them there exclusively. This is when I found I really did not want to take the time to learn the differences - whatever they were - between my desktop spreadsheet and the Google spreadsheet. I am certain this was compounded by my traveling with a Mac but using a Windows desktop in the office.

When I bought a new office Windows PC recently it did not come with Microsoft Office. I thought I would take the opportunity to shift from Office to Google Docs. I am disappointed in myself that I have not followed through on this. I eventually installed Office. I am not even sure why. The point is my experience and expectations for Docs has been more along the lines of a replacement for Office instead of a giant need for a collaboration tool.

The feature I have appreciated the most is the ability to upload a Microsoft Word, Excel or Power Point file and have Google Docs automatically convert them. The reverse is also true, I can save Google docs to my desktop in Microsoft formats.

On the big plus side, Google Docs is free, it is clean, it is fast and it is pretty intuitive.

Next up is 37Signals.

No comments: