Saturday, September 09, 2006

Beta Version of Writely

Writely is a new, web based word processing app being developed by the folks at Google. It's a beta version right now. Let me say it again, I know it's beta. I've used Writely for my last dozen or so posts. Here are my impressions.

The reason Writely is of interest to me is that I like to take notes on potential blog posts, let them simmer, and edit them before posting. You're probably thinking how can that be. I also use a few different computers. Having documents available on the web lets me work on them at work and at home without having to carry them around on a USB drive. Another interesting Writely feature is the ability to take a document and publish it directly to your blog. You set up the login one time and then it posts without having to log in and publish.

I've only scratched the surface, but there are some quirks with the beta version. First, when adding hyperlinks, Writely adds a space after the highlighted text (if there is punctuation after the highlighted item it's 100% and other times occasionally). That's annoying. Second, if you paste formatted text into Writely, it's not always to possible to reformat it (e.g. to un-bold text). That's annoying. Third, if you copy from Writely into a Blogger post you're creating manually, you don't always get what you copied and it's hard to reformat the text. I found that very difficult when using a bulleted list. Fourth, the connection to blog publishing isn't solid right now. I thought going from Writely to Blogger, both under the Google umbrella, would be seamless. Unfortunately, that's not the case. The Writely blog post preview looks good, but when I publish to my blog the title is missing. So if you use this, you still have to log in to Blogger and edit the post to add a title. And heaven forbid you try to edit a post in Writely and republish. For one post in particular, I had so many problems with the edit/reposting that I ended up logging in to Blogger to delete the post to fix my blog. That status didn't get updated in Writely, so you couldn't republish again. Argh! Back to the manual posting procedure.

Bottom line, the concept is intriguing and the possiblities useful. However, the beta version is far from ready for primetime. It's good for working on text, but don't count on all the formatting and publishing options. I'd be curious to hear how the collaboration feature has worked -- leave a comment if you've tried it.

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