Why I Love Google "Docs"

June 10, 2010
Randall Wong, MD

I now prefer Google Documents over Microsoft Word. For most of us, we need a very simple text editor or word processor. Google "docs" is not as fancy as MS Word, but Word is too fancy for the Web.

I use Google for a lot of things: Gmail, Calendar, Analytics, Feedburner, Reader, etc. For my writing, I now prefer Google Documents over Microsoft Word. For most of us, we need a very simple text editor or word processor. Google "docs" is not as fancy as MS Word, but Word is too fancy for the Web.

For the Web, we need very few functions: word processing, creating links, adding tables and images. That's about it.

Google products are server-based. Server-based means that my work is not saved on my computer. It is saved on the Google servers. I have access to it anywhere. I don't have to upload to a thumb drive or e-mail to myself. It means better efficiency and one less thing I can forget during a hectic day.

A server-based utility also means that you don't need a specific program loaded on your PC to read and work on your document. For instance, for you to read a Word document, you must have purchased a copy of MS Word and have it installed on each and every computer you use.

In contrast, the Google docs program resides on Google's server (computer). As long as you have Web access, you've got your article. You can even use your present Word documents and save them on Google docs.

Docs is very smart and can save your work in various formats, including as a Word document and HTML. HTML is the universal Web standard for creating your links, images, or tables. HTML allows you to format your text to change font size, indent, tab, number, etc.

Word doesn't translate well to HTML and is not used, for this reason, by Webmasters. A Word document does not always cut and paste easily into HTML without losing some functionality. Many times your work, especially graphics and tables, will be lost or changed.

The solution? Use a word processor (or more specifically a text editor) that creates your work in the same language as the Web programs. It is safe and there is no fear of losing your work. Most allow you type away just like a regular word processor. You don't even have to know HTML. You can simply copy and paste your work directly to your Web page.

For those of you who may be managing your own Web site or blog, most programs have a text editor built in and using that one is fine. There are also plenty of free HTML editors out there, too. Komodo Edit is a popular one.

If you are writing an article that someone else will publish for you on your Web page, write using HTML. If you guest post, as I often do, send the article to the publisher in HTML. You'll have no fear that your links (the most important) will be published exactly as you intended.

Google docs files can be shared and viewed by anyone. With one click, you can send an article to a friend or hundreds. They can be embedded in an e-mail, attached separately, viewed by others over a link, and even edited remotely. Your friends don't even have to have a Google account or even Word.