In writing a bit on/with Google Docs today, I got to wondering what it would take for me to move over to an online app for word processing. I now keep my (non-found) to-do lists at tadalist.com, my calendar at Google Calendar—so why not word process online?
Part of the challenge is that I get very attached to idiosyncratic elements in any software program. So, to move to Google Docs,
- I'd want to know I wouldn't lose stuff any more regularly than I already do
- I'd want to be able to use tables robustly, and to format those tables in at least as many ways as MS Word allows for
- I'd want to be able to mail merge from at least one of my databases
- I'd want an array of layouts, but mainly an accurate WYSIWYG view mode
- I'd want fine (at least to .01) control over typographic measurements such as letter spacing, leading, and kerning
- I'd want to be able to insert images that "stick" in place when text gets moved around
- I'd want a robust track-changes capability
- I'd want to be able to record audio comments on student work
- and I'd want robust TOC capability for multi-chapter, multi-section documents
I want I want I want ...
I know, that might be a long list, but in many ways it's also a short list given every element one gets used to using on a daily basis.
I can't post a link here, but a grad student in our Graduate School of Library and Information Science has developed an online writing app with the ability to search linked databases for keywords in the author's online-word-processed text—so articles that match up are then immediately delivered to the author via links and pdfs right beside the writing window.
So this is to say that I think Google Docs (and other online writing tools) can transcend the paradigms of what we currently use, especially in the arenas of insta-research and collaborative composition, but moving out of the current shell always takes a deep breath and a bit of time.