More and more of my word processing is getting moved to the Web these days for a number of reasons. My writing is accessible from anywhere, is open to collaboration and sharing, is easy to import and export, and is just a better way to do work in this constantly connected world we increasingly live in.
For a while now, my solution has been Google Docs. It’s a great service, and one that has served me well over the months and years I’ve been using it. Google Docs, though, is not without its issues and downsides, some of which have left me in constant search for the best and brightest of the online document managing application.
Well, I haven’t found it yet, but I’ve found five pretty great alternatives to Google Docs that you might want to check out. All of these, and Google Docs, offer the same basic editing features; instead of rehashing them over and over, I’ll point out the one or few great features that put the application on this list.
My current online editor of choice, Buzzword, is Adobe’s offering in the online word-processing department. It’s attractive, flash-based, and incredibly simple to use. In addition to all the standard features, Buzzword offers a few key uses for users of all levels. Buzzword lets you share documents with people, giving individuals varying levels of access, from comments to editing to just reading the document.
Also useful is the Version History tracker, which tracks your changes and lets you revert to an earlier version of the document in only one click.
Buzzword is the prettiest of the bunch, and while it’s not terribly feature-rich when it comes to document editing, its collaboration and tracking tools more than make up for it.
The number of applications Zoho offers, from an email service to a personal wiki and a “centralized public repository” (whatever that is) is ridiculous. I’ve become a big Zoho fan recently, and it has a huge number of useful tools at your disposal.
The writer itself is excellent, with a ton of editing options organized in a way that looks much like Office 2007’s Ribbon interface. Almost anything you can do in Word can be done in Zoho, from adding a header and footer to directly posting a document to your blog.
Zoho is the most feature-complete of the Web-based applications, including Google Docs, and is incredibly easy to use. Zoho doesn’t get nearly the press Google Docs does, but I can’t see a reason not to switch to Zoho.
If collaboration is what you’re into, give Etherpad a good look. There’s no need to sign up for Etherpad ““ just click “Start New Pad” and get going. Then, either share a link to the pad or send invitations to your contacts by email.
As users come in, you can edit the text on the pad in real-time, and changes automatically appear. You can chat in the sidebar, highlight which user made a given change, and save revisions in order to revert if a mistake is made.
Etherpad is perfect for coding and programming, but is also great for writing and editing documents. There aren’t as many features to Etherpad, and all your editing is in plain text, but it’s so collaborative and useful that it deserves a mention anyway.
is basically a whole suite of desktop applications, stored within your browser. You can run multiple Peepel windows in the same browser window, letting you manage more pieces of your workflow all at once.
Peepel offers services like the WebWriter word processor, WebSheet for spreadsheets, a contact manager, great file-sharing and collaboration tools, and the Workspace Manager that lets you save your layout and return to it later.
Peepel isn’t the flashiest of the applications, but I love the ability to run more than one document or application in the same window.
OpenGoo is similar in appearance to both Google Docs and the Zoho suite, with a well-integrated interface available to you. You can access calendars, tasks, documents, sticky notes, email, contacts, and time-tracking tools all from within the OpenGoo interface.
For document editing, OpenGoo is much like Google Docs. You can create documents or slideshows, and the interface is much like Google’s. You can edit documents, and then tag them or add them to folders for easier organization.
One thing I liked was that a new document is opened in the same window, with the document browser in the sidebar, whereas Google Docs always opens a new window.
If all you want is documents, there’s not a lot unique about OpenGoo; if you’re looking for a more complete interface and application, it’s a great choice.
What do you use for document editing, either online or off? Which one of the above mentioned online office apps in your opinon is the best alternative to Google Docs?