If I remember correctly, it was when I was tasked to write an article about cloud computing by one of my oDesk buyers early in 2009 and I asked my buddy, Nikki, for an example. Anyway, he gave a brief explanation and asked me to check out Google Docs so I could "get a feel" of what it was like to do the usual things I did - but this time, doing them on "the cloud".
As an oDesk freelance writer, there's one thing that I do day in and day out - write. So, I set off to "write on the cloud". Along with a few other MS Office-like applications, Google Docs had its own word processor.
At first, using the Google Docs word processor seemed so inconvenient. In fact, some of the inconveniences still persist, and I intend to dedicate my next post on them to balance things off. For now, it will be all what I like about this cloud-based word processor.
Let's get started.
- Data is safe even during power interruptions. I live in a city where brownouts are more frequent than in other places. Thus, unless you have a reliable UPS, you'd have to press CTRL+S from time to time just to make sure your article is safe most of the time. If you work on the cloud, your article stays there. So if a brownout hits, your article remains intact, ready to be retrieved when the power (and the Internet connection) gets back on.
- Data is retrievable anywhere there's an Internet connection. If you have a UPS, you shouldn't worry about number one, right? Maybe. But what if your client wants the article submitted in a couple of hours and you don't expect the power to be back up yet by then? Believe me, it happens here.
With a desktop-based word processor, there's no way you can proceed with your work. But with Google Docs, you simply go to the nearest Internet cafe (or a buddy with an Internet connection) and continue working there. There's no need to download anything. You just launch your web browser, login to your Google account, and wrap up that article.
- Data is safe from viruses. With a desktop-based word-processor, your file or your entire system is constantly in danger of being corrupted by viruses. But Google Docs is unaffected by such threats. Being housed in Google's secure servers your articles will be virtually malware proof. What's more, if your computer bogs down because of a malware attack, you can easily do what you'd in scenario #2.
Come to think of it, ever since I've been using Google Docs, my once trusty USB flashdisk has now been put to pasture. I don't need any portable device to transport my files on anymore. Again, all my work is on the cloud!
- Conversion to PDF is easy. I used to write reports or mini-ebooks for a client, and he preferred them all in PDF. Luckily, conversion to PDF is so easy in Google Docs. You just navigate to File > Download As > PDF. PDFs look more professional when your writing project is made up of multiple pages. Examples are ebooks, mini-ebooks, and manuals.
If you prefer OpenOffice for this particular task, you can also write and store your work in Google Docs then download it as an OpenOffice document. Once downloaded, you can then export the document to PDF in the OpenOffice environment.
- You don't have to worry about updates. Since Google Docs runs and is maintained on the cloud, you don't have to worry about patches or updates. You can be sure that the Google Docs application you'll be working on is no less than the latest version. If your system crashes, you don't have to reinstall Google Docs. It'll be ready to use when you run your favorite browser.
Not everything is fine and dandy with this application though. In my next post, I'll compose a 5-point wishlist of what I think Google Docs can still improve on.
So far, was that enough to convince you to make that shift to Google Docs?