A lot of times when I start writing a blog post I only get part way through it when I get side tracked. Or, I have an idea for a post that I don’t want to forget but I’m not in the mood to write the whole thing. I’ve been using a Word Doc to keep my notes and ideas in, but it has started getting long and it is a pain to keep a current copy between work (If my boss is reading this I only blog on my breaks) and my house. Sure there are a lot of options to remedy that. I could email it to myself or use a USB drive, but then I have to remember to take that extra step at the end. I also tried using Blogger’s New Post option and just saving my partial posts as drafts, but I kept accidentally posting half finished ones so that option is out. I decided using an online word processor is probably my best option. It lets me work on my partial posts from home or work without having to keep track of where the most recent copy of each one is since the most recent copy is always stored online. I checked out Zoho’s Writer, Google Docs, ThinkFree, and AjaxWrite since they seem like the most common ones. I should specify that I tried all of these in Firefox and not Internet Explorer because that is my preferred browser. So, if you use Internet Explorer you may have a different experience.
To start with it has a very nice interface. They have a couple rows of buttons and drop down options across the top toolbar. Along the left side bar is a listing of my documents . There are options for templates, sharing docs, publishing to blogs, and exporting. They allow you to customize the interface to look how you prefer it. All of these additional options are nice, but what really makes this my preferred online word processor is the simplicity of all of. There are tons of options, but they don’t hit you over the head with all of them (couge*google*cough). The options are there if you need them, but it still has a clean streamlined interface. The more I use Zoho Writer the more I find things I like about it. For example, a lot of the standard Word keyboard shortcuts work. Without even thinking about it I just ctrl+S to save and it saved my document. It has contextual options that show up on the right side of the toolbar depending on what you have highlighted. The whole thing is very well designed and laid out. Documents open in tabs and it is a very quick to respond to commands like saving or creating a new document. In my experience it is faster to load and respond to my commands than the other online word processors. Zoho Writer is in Beta still, but I was looking through their forums and they have a very active team working on peoples questions and issues there.
It has the standard Google interface that I’m use to seeing in Gmail. They provides tons of options for collaboration and publishing. I’m not a huge fan of the interface for actually editing documents, but it works well enough. I think the issue, for me, is that I’m use to using Word so the lack of a decent toolbar takes some getting use to. Also, you can only have one document open at a time. Opening a document from the main start page opens a new window with that document in it. As far as I can tell there is not simple way to have multiple documents open in tabs like some of there other online word processors. The other thing that bugs me is that a lot of the different options don’t just pop up on the main edit screen but instead open a unique interface for that option. For example, when I open the Revision option it opens a new interface specific to only the revisions that have been made. Then, when done in the revisions section I have to go back to the editing portion. Why these aren’t in just one simple interface I don’t know.
It loads fairly quickly, but it does open in a new window. Documents are opened in tabs so it is easy to switch between open docs. It has a simple toolbar and interface that is clean and nice. However, I quickly ran into trouble when I tried to save my first document. I could not get it to save as any of the 5 supported formats. It game me an error every time. So, I quit trying it right there because what good is it to write up a document if I can’t save it.