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Google Rebuilds Docs Platform

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the further-encloudificating-your-grocery-list dept.

Businesses 194

mikemuch writes "In addition to offering faster, desktop-like performance, better imported document fidelity, and more features found in standard Office apps, Google's new infrastructure for its web-based office suite will enable the company to more easily update the apps. A side effect (or benefit, depending on where you sit) is that the new platform will ditch Gears in favor of HTML 5. For a while starting May 3 there will be no offline capability whatsoever. Collaboration is a big focus, with a new chat sidebar and real-time co-editing. The new Docs and spreadsheet apps will be opt-in previews, but a new drawing app is launching fully. Both go live later today on the Google Docs site."

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ONCE AGAIN (0, Flamebait)

You'reJustSlashFlock (1708024) | more than 4 years ago | (#31820548)

Google = good

Microsoft = evil

There is nothing evil about The Cloud! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31821028)

Wait a minute. I'm a manager, and I've been reading a lot of case studies and watching a lot of webcasts about The Cloud. Based on all of this glorious marketing literature, I, as a manager, have absolutely no reason to doubt the safety of any data put in The Cloud.

The case studies all use words like "secure", "MD5", "RSS feeds" and "encryption" to describe the security of The Cloud. I don't know about you, but that sounds damn secure to me! Some Clouds even use SSL and HTTP. That's rock solid in my book.

And don't forget that you have to use Web Services to access The Cloud. Nothing is more secure than SOA and Web Services, with the exception of perhaps SaaS. But I think that Cloud Services 2.0 will combine the tiers into an MVC-compliant stack that uses SaaS to increase the security and partitioning of the data.

My main concern isn't with the security of The Cloud, but rather with getting my Indian team to learn all about it so we can deploy some first-generation The Cloud applications and Web Services to provide the ultimate platform upon which we can layer our business intelligence and reporting, because there are still a few verticals that we need to leverage before we can move to The Cloud 2.0.

Re:There is nothing evil about The Cloud! (0, Offtopic)

boneclinkz (1284458) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821068)

Too many big words >:(

Re:There is nothing evil about The Cloud! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31821820)

haha. but seriously, folks, i take my wife everywhere....

Re:There is nothing evil about The Cloud! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31821902)

Jared? What are you doing posting on this site? I thought you were in a management meeting about cutting our benefits!

Slashvertisement? (3, Interesting)

teknopurge (199509) | more than 4 years ago | (#31820676)

Does anyone else think the submission sounds like an ad copy?

Re:Slashvertisement? (2, Interesting)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#31820740)

Nah, not really.

it's something used by tons of people, and switching to HTML 5 here is a good deal *and* significant for cross platform use.

press release, not advertisement (3, Informative)

Layth (1090489) | more than 4 years ago | (#31820764)

A news website, with a summary that sounds like a press release.. nothing wrong here.
Not a marketing guy, but as I understand it a press release is different than normal advertising copy - it's news (in this case, news for nerds)

Re:Slashvertisement? (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821024)

Does anyone else think the submission sounds like an ad copy?

Welcome to the modern world of press releases :)

Re:Slashvertisement? (3, Funny)

R.Mo_Robert (737913) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821178)

Indeed. If I were a small company like Google, I'd be really hoping that Slashdot could provide some much-needed publicity.

Re:Slashvertisement? (1)

Flambergius (55153) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821488)

Sure. And it works too. Tomorrow I'll fire my IT department.

    Not really. I don't have an IT department.

        But if I had, I'd fire them. For real.

            And I'm seriously thinking about asking my boss to ask her boss to fire our IT department. Though not tomorrow.

The day after tomorrow. I actually think I'm bloody well going to do it. What a bother.

Re:Slashvertisement? (1, Troll)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821540)

Does anyone else think the submission sounds like an ad copy?

So?

Sounds like an ad (2)

Timosch (1212482) | more than 4 years ago | (#31820704)

"faster, desktop-like performance..." - Google will love this...

Re:Sounds like an ad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31821200)

"faster, desktop-like performance..." - Google will love this...

during the weekend i update my google web site and used also google docs. very often when i tried to do something i got back an error message that the page didn't respond. even when logging off from my google account, i had to reload the page many times before it succeeded. looked like their servers were heavily overloaded. based on that experience, "desktop-like performance" is a big joke.

Re:Sounds like an ad (1)

diegocg (1680514) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821374)

What if the new google docs is faster and has desktop-like performance?

HTML5 Features (5, Insightful)

WankersRevenge (452399) | more than 4 years ago | (#31820720)

It's funny that people are so fixated over the video tag discussion that a lot of the other outstanding features of HTML5 are being overlooked. There's offline storage, javascript threads, and even in browser form validation. The awesome thing is that a bunch of these features are already implemented in various browsers. It's just a matter of including a simple javascript sniffer to determine if a client supports it or not. You can dig into the features over here [diveintohtml5.org] .

Re:HTML5 Features (0, Troll)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31820970)

Video playback, offline storage, threads and... input validation? The '90s called, it wants its basic desktop back.

Seriously, who cares? Yay, we can deliver an app via the buggy, bloated, insecure browser+cloud instead of on the desktop using native, always-available logic and the full gamut of UI wizardry provided by the OS.

If you want to collaborate, build and standardise on network storage and collaboration APIs (more...). Let people otherwise run their own software tailored for their preferred environment, rather than the lowest common denominator. You know where we all saw this before? Around 1997, when people thought Java on the desktop would take off and replace native apps. (And at least Google had the cunning to see that Java is a usable language, developing solutions therein and translating to HTML/Javascript.)

Berners-Lee, you had a great thing with the WWW of information. You even tried hard to develop metadata for content, rather than markup/presentation, so the web wouldn't be the horrible but occasionally pretty mess that it is. But W3C has been taken over by organisations who each see a way of monetising the web by laying the standards track in their direction.

What was cool when I dived into it 15 years ago on my ageing monochrome Mac with NCSA Mosaic is now boring. It's a battle between team A - the tech superstars from Apple to Google - whose ultimate aim is to take control from you, and team B - the old media from Murdoch to RIAA - whose ultimate aim is to take control from you. And, as geeks grow up, their one idealistic dreams about a free medium are replaced with increasingly fanatical cheerleading about increasingly uninteresting progress.

Re:HTML5 Features (5, Insightful)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821322)

Good points. It makes no sense to take features which have proved useful on the desktop and make them available in the browser environment. Also, someone needs to stand up and tell people to stop developing these browser based applications.

If you want to edit a document, you should install a native application on every PC you want to access it on. You should have to sort out all the details of network storage and collaboration yourself. If you don't have the time or expertise to set that up, you don't deserve to be editing documents. If you accept the convenience offered by such online companies, don't be surprised when many horrible things happen to you!

Re:HTML5 Features (1)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821924)

Also, someone needs to stand up and tell people to stop developing these browser based applications.

Don't be obtuse. I defend your right to express yourself through writing browser-based applications, but I have the right to criticise your expression.

If you want to edit a document, you should install a native application on every PC you want to access it on.

Yes, businesses have so much trouble installing Office on every PC. So few kids have grown up intimately familiar with computers and no-one knows how to click "Next" five times any more. You're solving a problem which does not exist, whether you like to admit it or not.

You should have to sort out all the details of network storage and collaboration yourself.

What? The underlying collaboration layer can interface with whichever storage medium on a local, enterprise or public server, and all you need to do is name your cluster (sorry, "cloud") and provide login details.

If you don't have the time or expertise to set that up, you don't deserve to be editing documents.

Everyone has the time to install an app. Google want to pretend that no-one does. That's the way service-based economies go: convince everyone that they don't have the time/ability to do what they've always been able to do quite easily.

If you accept the convenience offered by such online companies, don't be surprised when many horrible things happen to you!

There is nothing convenient about Google Docs. If I want to do anything simple, Office is good enough and has better availability, speed, familiarity (including native UI integration) and stability. If I want to do anything complex, only Office will provide it.

Re:HTML5 Features (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822154)

There is nothing convenient about Google Docs. If I want to do anything simple, Office is good enough and has better availability, speed, familiarity (including native UI integration) and stability. If I want to do anything complex, only Office will provide it.

I'm willing to bet that within a couple of years, Office will be just as "online" and "in the cloud" as Google docs is. It would be great to just give users a laptop and a web browser without having to install Office. Rather than install Office, they can be pointed toward whatever URL accesses the online version of their application.

Re:HTML5 Features (2, Insightful)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822412)

I'm willing to bet that within a couple of years, Office will be just as "online" and "in the cloud" as Google docs is.

You could just substitute research for "betting" and observe what MS is actually doing with their next release: building a limited online version of Office, but selling the usual feature-complete local tools which take advantage of the speed, reliability, connectivity and UI of a native app.

It would be great to just give users a laptop and a web browser without having to install Office.

Why not spend the time installing Office, rather than a browser, so they can actually get work done? Seriously, a reason to use Google Docs over Office is that it's harder to install Office than a web browser?

I find Office much easier to deploy than Firefox, because Microsoft actually thinks about enterprise deployment in their installer. I find Office easier to use than Google Docs, because it provides a familiar native UI.

Re:HTML5 Features (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822522)

Why not spend the time installing Office, rather than a browser, so they can actually get work done? Seriously, a reason to use Google Docs over Office is that it's harder to install Office than a web browser?

Its easier to install a web browser and keep it up-to-date than to install every app that might be needed to for every document type you might want to use.

So, yeah, browser-based, hosted apps do have certain advantages.

Re:HTML5 Features (2, Interesting)

dave562 (969951) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822528)

You could just substitute research for "betting" and observe what MS is actually doing with their next release: building a limited online version of Office, but selling the usual feature-complete local tools which take advantage of the speed, reliability, connectivity and UI of a native app.

I could research, but having been in IT for over a decade at this point, I will continue to "bet" until applications are actually in production. Until then, it's all vapourware as far as I'm concerned. In this case my bet is based on Microsoft's claims that they are going to offer Office online. We'll see how it works. A couple of months ago, I read a few reviews where everyone was bemoaning how much it sucks and how far it has to go.

Seriously, a reason to use Google Docs over Office is that it's harder to install Office than a web browser?

If you want to get technical, it IS harder to install Office than a browser. The browser (IE) comes pre-installed. Office requires an installer. Even if you are pushing it out via GPO, or Systems Center, you still have to have a mechanism to get the application configured on the end user's device. If you move it onto the web, all you have to do is provision it once and maybe authorize the user's account in Active Directory or whatever.

I find Office much easier to deploy than Firefox...

As for Firefox versus Office, they're pretty much the same. You configure your installer package and associate it with whatever OU you want to deploy it. The rest is automatic.

Re:HTML5 Features (1)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822766)

I could research, but having been in IT for over a decade at this point, I will continue to "bet" until applications are actually in production.

MS actually has Office 2010 beta available for download, while it only promises a feature limited online version of Office. Yet you "bet" on the opposite outcome, namely that MS will move to a web Office.

If you want to get technical, it IS harder to install Office than a browser. The browser (IE) comes pre-installed

So technical... IE is not a usable browser for anything Web2.0, and Firefox (the best alternative) had awful enterprise management last I checked... but maybe they're delivering MSIs etc now.

At the enterprise level, configuring Office beyond facilities provided by copious centralised management tools can be done the same way you configure any Windows app: a couple of clicks to push a script to all client machines. At the individual user level, you're either going to the Prefs menu via the Windows UI or via a horrible browser UI.

Re:HTML5 Features (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31822482)

And with just a small monthly fee attached to each login, right?

Because that's where this is going, in the end. By getting a head start, however, Google may have made that business model impossible for Microsoft.

Re:HTML5 Features (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31822332)

Do you work for a company with more than say 500 seats of Office?

Do you understand how much money [Microsoft] Office is to license?

Do you have any idea how many exploits are in the Office suite alone?

Re:HTML5 Features (2, Insightful)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822520)

Do you understand how much money [Microsoft] Office is to license?

Almost nothing, relative to the cost of the employee sitting at the workstation. Productivity is far more important than base licence cost.

Do you have any idea how many exploits are in the Office suite alone?

Almost none, relevant to a well configured Office install. And none recent are as bad as the one big risk that is having your plaintext on an anonymous server accessible to various foreign corporations and governments.

Well, at least Google's never been penetrated and experienced information leakages, and they're responsible with full disclosure of vulnerabilities, right?

Re:HTML5 Features (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822504)

Yes, businesses have so much trouble installing Office on every PC.

On every computer (regardless of OS) anyone employed by the company might ever want to use to edit a document, and on every PC anyone might ever want to share such a document with? Yeah, actually, that is a bit of a challenge.

Everyone has the time to install an app. Google want to pretend that no-one does.

Everyone has time to do most any task you can imagine. OTOH, most everyone also has higher-value tasks they could be performing instead if "installing an app" was taken care of.

Re:HTML5 Features (1)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822582)

On every computer (regardless of OS) anyone employed by the company might ever want to use to edit a document, and on every PC anyone might ever want to share such a document with? Yeah, actually, that is a bit of a challenge.

And what's so much easier about installing a suitable browser on every computer (regardless of OS) anyone employed by the company might ever want to use to edit a document, and on every PC anyone might ever want to share such a document with?

most everyone also has higher-value tasks they could be performing instead if "installing an app" was taken care of.

Stop it. Clicking "Next" 5 times and waiting a few minutes - once - is incomparable to the productivity lost by operating an online Office suite for several hours a day. It's also quicker for me to set up a desk with a pad of paper, a ballpoint pen and a calculator than to set up and plug in a PC - but you know what's more efficient over time?

Re:HTML5 Features (1)

suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822692)

Also, someone needs to stand up and tell people to stop developing these browser based applications.

Don't be obtuse. I defend your right to express yourself through writing browser-based applications, but I have the right to criticise your expression.

It would be polite to recall that people are generally 'expressing themselves' not out of obstinacy, but because they really do have a problem, and those apps really do solve it. It doesn't have to be a problem of world-shattering import; "Oh god, not the clicking next five times again, if I do this one more time, I'm going to be eaten by the alien hive-lord and Earth will be invaded!" They can instead be, "God, I'm so fucking tired of dealing with licenses, network issues, making sure that everyone is using the same copy of a document, trying to get access when I don't have a laptop configured for the company VPN, etc, usw, and oh hey, you can just use a web browser? Well hell, we should at least look into this."

If you, yes you, end up using a program, even an office program, that just doesn't work given your choice of platforms, or because of some other stupid decision by the developers, but you have net access, even you, troll that you are, will say, "What the hell, even Google Docs has THIS stupid problem figured out. Why can't these guys?" However, it isn't "even Google Docs." It's Google Docs because service based economies aren't just about doing things slightly better than the next guy--they're about being right there if the customer needs something, no ifs, ands, or buts, and that's virtually (hah) what the web is for.

Re:HTML5 Features (1)

FooHentai (624583) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822722)

A few months back I built a new PC. Once I had the OS installed, I went online and downloaded a copy of my email client. Then I configured the client to talk to my ISPs email servers. That meant digging into my old paper files and finding my ISPs new customer letter where it had my mail server info and username/password that I don't use for anything else (so had forgotten). Then once it was set up I realised that I'd only be receiving new mail from the ISP, and had to turn on the old PC to take a copy of my old emails. Importing took a bit of time. Something about different versions of the program between backing the data up and restoring it.

Just kidding. I opened firefox and logged into GMail.

Re:HTML5 Features (4, Insightful)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822102)

If you accept the convenience offered by such online companies, don't be surprised when many horrible things happen to you!

What convenience? The convenience to have to use their inferior-to-my-desktop-app editor, in a browser I wouldn't normally use, with security settings I wouldn't normally use, continigent on my network connection staying up?

That sounds much better than downloading a file, running the app I decided I wanted to use and learned the quirks of, and being able to put my computer to sleep, move it to a coffee shop and resume. Oh, and allowing my OS to protect my computer like I told it to.

Re:HTML5 Features (1)

c++0xFF (1758032) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822716)

You should have to sort out all the details of network storage and collaboration yourself. If you don't have the time or expertise to set that up, you don't deserve to be editing documents.

I don't think that's what anybody thinks, so please avoid turning the issue into a straw man.

The advantages to online document editing are collaboration and decentralization. No more emailing a document around, then having to merge changes together. No more emailing it to yourself (what a ridiculous workaround ... and yet we've all done it). No more worries about losing a document from a hard drive crash.

All good things, right?

But is a web-based application like Google Docs the right solution? Well, now we've introduced more problems. What if I lose my connection? Where's all the bells and whistles? But now it's so slow!

Again, all valid complaints.

Personally, I don't have any problem with the application being hosted online, even if a web browser is an odd tool for this. Nor do I have a problem with the data being "in the cloud," as that's the whole reason for using it.

What I do have a problem with is taking two steps backwards in the process. All the complaints I listed above could be eliminated with some sort of hybrid system: let the application be hosted online, but don't make it dependent on any sort of connection.

Re:HTML5 Features (2, Interesting)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821370)

Seriously, who cares?

Because the native desktop is managed by a typical user who is not really dumb, but has no inclination to manage the machine correctly. They usually lack the security implications of their actions. They have a nebulous understanding of how the computer works. They don't get the difference between their local computer, their files in their machine, the web site they visit. They don't even know the difference between the OS and the browser and the applications.

The situation is so bad, the shills are actually touting the advantages of the closed software, saying that is the only way to get secure applications without viruses and worms. The shift to cloud essentially forces the user to learn a new security paradigm.

Yes, it is buggy and inefficient. But that is now. As technology improves, the simple browser will serve the 95% of the needs of 95% of the population.

Re:HTML5 Features (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31821666)

I'll agree with you gramps if you just give me my Playstation 9, i'll be out of your grass, all i wanted was my PS9, not a history lesson.

Sorry, but times change, needs change, the desktop was and always has been awful.
Distribution through discs and shareware meetups was painful and i'm glad it is on the way out.

Eventually the internet is going to be solid and reliable for (mostly) everyone. (20-30 years, give or take)
I think it would be better to get things done ASAP rather than waiting till we have it and a painful 10 years of migration.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with web applications outside of some basic limitations that can easily be improved on with better implementations of JS, or a better language entirely.
Its not like ECMA is the best of the best for these tasks, there can be specialized languages too.
They can be downloaded with relative ease, the systems are already in place right now to do such a thing, it just needs a slight tweaking.

Security is certainly an issue, but with encryption on client-end before any transmission, already not a problem.
But until "The Cloud" operators allow such a thing, it will remain a problem for those who deal with a lot of sensitive data.

Java came at the wrong time. It is possible now to work the idea of applications within the browser.
Personally, i'm thrilled with the new changes coming. I can't wait till it becomes the norm.

Re:HTML5 Features (1)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822176)

Sorry, but times change, needs change, the desktop was and always has been awful.

Yeah, life was much better when we all paid by the minute on the local mainframe. What a retrograde step it was for IBM/MS to come along with their PC! To put the power to work and play in the hands of individuals, rather than far away corporations... quite unacceptable.

Distribution through discs and shareware meetups was painful and i'm glad it is on the way out.

Yes, because that's what people who don't use HTML+JS apps must do now. Seriously, what?

Eventually the internet is going to be solid and reliable for (mostly) everyone.

Firstly, no it won't be - pretty much nothing throughout human history has become, let alone remained, globally solid and reliable. Secondly, so what? Why would I hire someone half way across the globe to crack a nut when I can use my own nutcracker from the kitchen drawer?

Security is certainly an issue, but with encryption on client-end before any transmission, already not a problem.

And which algorithms and their implementations do you trust? Go on, put all your most valued possessions in the safest transparent safe money can buy, in the middle of a random building one thousand miles away. Tell everyone where it is. Watch what happens.

But until "The Cloud" operators allow such a thing, it will remain a problem for those who deal with a lot of sensitive data.

Yes, why don't "Cloud" operators provide such a thing? Could it be because it's hard to offer collaboration solutions where only clients can see decrypted data? Could it be because they're smarter than you, and see the value of lots of readable data?

Personally, i'm thrilled with the new changes coming. I can't wait till it becomes the norm.

Tomorrow belongs to you, comrade! Should I stand or rest my palm on my forehead?

Re:HTML5 Features (4, Interesting)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821450)

I am just pissed off that no one seems to want xhtml2. It is generally better than html5 in most ways, though it could use a few minor features from html5.

Re:HTML5 Features (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821594)

In a world where 99% of everything is broken, strictness isn't really a virtue...

Re:HTML5 Features (5, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821806)

On the contrary, in a world where 99% of everything is broken, strictness really is a virtue. Strictness allows people to realize what isn't broken in an endless morass of crippled partial implementations. Eventually, things can be fixed. Computers and the internet do not have to be something for which everyone has resigned to being broken.

"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not only because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. "

Re:HTML5 Features (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822694)

You have to make the important distinction between what you create and what you deal with.

If you are creating, and you have the choice, strict correctness is an excellent thing to aspire to and, ideally, achieve. If you are dealing with other people's(often broken) stuff, strictness is a bug(being able to test, at your option, for brokenness or correctness is all well and good); because it prevents your stuff from working with the vast majority of the world.

To use your Apollo analogy, building launch systems that don't explode(producing strictly correct systems) is a definite virtue. Producing launch systems that work if and only if you are travelling between two perfectly spherical planets of neutral density(demanding strict output from others) is basically useless.

Re:HTML5 Features (1)

lwsimon (724555) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822610)

As a once-full-time-web-developer, I dropped XHTML in 2006. I went back to HTML 4.01, which was generally well supported, and stayed there. The rest of the web development world caught up a couple of years later.

What does XHTML2 offer that HTML5 doesn't?

Re:HTML5 Features (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822252)

There's offline storage, javascript threads, and even in browser form validation. The awesome thing is that a bunch of these features are already implemented in various browsers.

I feel the opposite. It's a whole list of things I have to remember to turn off.

I'm hard pressed to think of a site where I like the javascript. Geolocation and offline storage: yeah more ways of being tracked. Browser form validation: that one may be useful, but I'm not sure why yet.

Even the video tag... I can turn Flash off except for youtube and hulu.

Re:HTML5 Features (1)

ckaminski (82854) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822274)

Seriously? Javascript threads are a BAD IDEA.

It's bad enough I have 100 tabs open, each with an AJAX-y background javascript thread running pulling updates. What I really want is a browser managed threadpool that restricts that to a sane number. Seriously, I can get firefox to routinely suck down 25% of my CPU just sitting doing nothing (with 168 tabs)... if you consider that nothing.

Re:HTML5 Features (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822634)

They're awesome features... If only they were standardized.

For instance, the offline storage. I recently looked into it because it sounded like it was going to be really great. Then I find out there a huge push to get functionality removed and have a more basic offline storage system instead. Seriously? Ugh.

Still sounds shittier than OpenOffice.org. (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31820774)

It still sounds like a shitty web app, less usable and practical than OpenOffice.org. And OpenOffice.org is pretty bad to begin with, too.

Web apps just can't compete with real apps, and will never be able to as long as we're using JavaScript as the programming language to implement these apps. JavaScript is just not suited to large-scale application development, especially something as large as a full-featured word processor.

Re:Still sounds shittier than OpenOffice.org. (3, Insightful)

dingen (958134) | more than 4 years ago | (#31820924)

Web apps just can't compete with real apps

This will be a funny quote in a few years.

Re:Still sounds shittier than OpenOffice.org. (0, Offtopic)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821074)

Web apps just can't compete with real apps

This will be a funny quote in a few years.

Nah, its THIS one that will be the funny one in a few years.

Re:Still sounds shittier than OpenOffice.org. (0, Redundant)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821130)

Nah, its THIS one that will be the funny one in a few years.

Re:Still sounds shittier than OpenOffice.org. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31821612)

You know what, I've been hearing web developers say that since 1994. Yet here we are, over 15 years later, and web apps are still shittier than desktop apps.

Then again, you guys are the ones who think that PHP and JavaScript are "good" programming languages, and MySQL is a "good" database. I suppose that I shouldn't be surprised that you fools still haven't gotten your shit together, even after over a decade.

Re:Still sounds shittier than OpenOffice.org. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31822534)

And I bet YOU think MS SQL is a "good" database.

Re:Still sounds shittier than OpenOffice.org. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31822780)

It's not PostgreSQL, DB2 or Oracle, but it's a fuck of a lot better than MySQL ever could hope to be.

Re:Still sounds shittier than OpenOffice.org. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31822514)

I think it's a funny quote right now.

Web apps are not as powerful or fast as Desktop apps, and they may never be. But they already compete just fine with "real" apps and thus for a great many people, web apps are indeed "real apps".

Seriously, no one would argue that webmail has become a highly successful (and, arguably, preferential) way to access your email. Email was once a purely desktop-app, but it is no longer. Google Docs similarly provide the functionality that many people need (basic editing and dead-simple collaboration/sharing options) and are thus very much "real apps".

The age of the web app is here. They have not (and will not) totally supplant desktop-apps... but the fact is for some usage patterns they've already beat-out the desktop equivalent.

Re:Still sounds shittier than OpenOffice.org. (1)

MosX (773406) | more than 4 years ago | (#31820950)

What makes you say that? I'm sure Google is using something similar to their Google Web Toolkit [google.com] to write the applications in Java and have the code compiled into JavaScript. When you do that, the fact that the browser is interpreting JavaScript really doesn't matter. All the development and organization is done in a language that IS suited to large-scale application development.

Re:Still sounds shittier than OpenOffice.org. (4, Interesting)

Joe Random (777564) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821052)

I'm sure Google is using something similar to their Google Web Toolkit [google.com] to write the applications in Java and have the code compiled into JavaScript.

The thing to take away from this (and everyone should already be aware of this if they're making claims as to the usefulness of a JavaScript) is that JavaScript is Turing complete. So it clearly can be used to develop an Office-like suite of tools.

The only real concerns are:

  • Is the language easy enough to develop in?
  • Do programs written in the language run quickly enough on the target systems?

Since the Google toolkit is converting Java to JavaScript, the answer to #1 seems obvious. And while it's not quite as clear-cut, recent (and ongoing) improvements in browser JavaScript interpretation speed seem to indicate that #2 is likely true, too.

Re:Still sounds shittier than OpenOffice.org. (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821136)

Look at the post just above yours. I'd agree google apps sucked. But, it would be wise to withhold judgement on the new version to see how much better it can be with HTML 5.

Damn! (-1, Troll)

Jorl17 (1716772) | more than 4 years ago | (#31820818)

No matter what Google does, it turns up on Slashdot! What if Google decided to let one out -- would it feature /.?
Anyway, I'm really glad they're doing this, since I'm one of their Google Docs fans -- It simply puts the cloud in my computing!

Re:Damn! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31820952)

No matter what Google does, it turns up on Slashdot! What if Google decided to let one out -- would it feature /.? Anyway, I'm really glad they're doing this, since I'm one of their Google Docs fans -- It simply puts the cloud in my computing!

You you like just another M$ shill.

Hey, Hey, You, You (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821978)

like just another M$ shill. No, I guess I'll stay with the Stones' lyrics.

In other news... (0, Flamebait)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 4 years ago | (#31820862)

... Google CEO Eric Schmidt took a dump today, while at the same time promising to build media bias into the user experience.

Re:In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31820882)

Thereby stealing another patented Apple idea! Those bastards!

Two more days left to test it today! (5, Informative)

Stan Vassilev (939229) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821014)

If "real-time collaboration" and "side chat bar" sounds familiar, it's Etherpad:

Etherpad.com [etherpad.com]

Google bought the company few months ago in order to improve their Google Wave and Google Docs offerings, and I'm happy to see these efforts come to fruition. Google left the Etherpad.com service up for some more time. The end of that grace period is April 14-th (2 days from now), so you have 2 days to go and check what the new Google Docs will probably feel like. Make sure to check out the timeline replay feature, downright eerie and good fit for Google's pattern of Ubiquitous Tracking of Everything, I think.

Re:Two more days left to test it today! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31821318)

everybody join this pad! [etherpad.com]

Re:Two more days left to test it today! (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821440)

They did release the source code, TPB has their own clone running: piratepad [piratepad.net] , there are numerous other out there.

Download the source [google.com] if you want to still run it.

Re:Two more days left to test it today! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31822810)

It's the Pirate Party, not the The Pirate Bay. Not a difficult comparison, although for some...

Re:Two more days left to test it today! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31821522)

Both Wave and the new version of Docs were in development for quite some time before the Etherpad acquisition.

JavaScript (5, Interesting)

Vahokif (1292866) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821080)

I don't get why we're still using JavaScript for everything. What we need is a bytecode-based platform like Java or .NET but completely open and managed by W3C, totally integrated in the browser instead of a plugin and with a minimal standard library that only does math, DOM, etc. It would sure as hell beat crazy hacks like compiling other languages to JavaScript.

Re:JavaScript (2, Interesting)

dingen (958134) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821218)

Why?

There are loads of Javascript frameworks out there to basically give developers any functionality they might require. Speed isn't the issue anymore since Javascript engines have become multithreaded bytecode interpreters and as of late even offering hardware acceleration.

What's wrong with Javascript?

Re:JavaScript (3, Insightful)

Vahokif (1292866) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821436)

What's the point of using an interpreted language when you could compile to, download and execute bytecode much more efficiently?

Re:JavaScript (2, Interesting)

Joe Random (777564) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822088)

What's the point of using an interpreted language when you could compile to, download and execute bytecode much more efficiently?

Please define "much more efficiently". Sure, it's more efficient from the computer's standpoint to run native code, but that's only part of the equation. From the user's standpoint, running something like this as a web service rather than a stand-alone executable means not having to install, never having to upgrade, and automatically having their documents available from any other computer that has an Internet connection. Yes, it may be slightly slower, but that slowdown may be well within tolerable limits, and there are added benefits. Whether those benefits outweigh the costs is up to the individual to determine for their particular circumstances, and what's "much more efficient" in a technical sense may not be more efficient from the user's point of view.

Re:JavaScript (2, Insightful)

Vahokif (1292866) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822140)

What are you talking about? It'd still be in the browser, just bytecode instead of JavaScript.

Re:JavaScript (1)

dingen (958134) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822150)

What's the point of changing how everything works?

Re:JavaScript (1)

Vahokif (1292866) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822244)

Yeah, I don't know why we ever stopped using Fortran.

Re:JavaScript (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31822300)


What's the point of using an interpreted language when you could compile to, download and execute bytecode much more efficiently?

Because while Javascript sucks, is bandwidth-intense and slow, it is the only Turing-complete, client-side, barely-cross-platform Web programming environment that Microsoft has implemented and which Microsoft is still forced to keep around on all default installations of Windows/Explorer.

You are perfectly right that bytecode environments are much better choices technically, but they are worth nothing to Google as long as Microsoft keeps them out of their default browser installs.

[ Note that on platforms that Google is able to influence in their entirety they are using bytecode solutions aggressively - see Android. ]

Microsoft adopted (and extend) Javascript because it wanted to kill Netscape so badly. Once they achieved that they couldn't kill Javascript anymore because 1) half of the web ran on it 2) they were lying low after the bloody [and illegal] battle with Netscape raised the interest of various [civil] law enforcement agencies 3) Microsoft thought they made Javascript incompatible enough and did not really realize how it still enabled Google's cloud apps - until it was too late.

Microsoft tried to hold out with a sucky Javascript engine as long as it could, but they eventually had to give in.

It's kind of ironic that this small domino started 10 years ago by Microsoft caused the increasingly apparent demise of Microsoft Office.

It will take another 10+ years for the process to be complete (the 100+ billion business that Microsoft has become has a lot of inertia) but it will happen - the world generally strives to optimize out the overhead of that 100+ billion dollars tax that Microsoft has become by today.

Re:JavaScript (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31822258)

Javascript itself? Nothing really. The implementations however could use improvement. If you have a standard byte-code or intermediate language you could still write in javascript and compile it to the byte-code. If you have a separate VM in the browser it can be optimized separately from the languages used to write the script. You can continue to use and optimize javascript where it makes sense. You can also create new byte-code compilers for other languages.

Basically think LLVM for browsers.

Re:JavaScript (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31822350)

Prototype base languages are not 'normal'. (eg people hate lisp)
Personally, it's become an ok language. What most people hate, me included, is the DOM. Of course, using a modern js library, you don't have to worry about DOM as much.

Re:JavaScript (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821602)

You mean like flash? no. Binary streams no not make sense in the human readable document format that is the web.

Re:JavaScript (1)

Vahokif (1292866) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821822)

You read page content but how often do you read, say, GMail's scripting?

Re:JavaScript (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821994)

More than once, though it tends to be really annoying.

Re:JavaScript (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822098)

Besides Geeks, who knows that the letter 'A' is encoded as 1000001? Oh, you mean the text editor readable document format that is the web.

Re:JavaScript (1)

ByteSlicer (735276) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821844)

What we need is a bytecode-based platform like Java or .NET

The second all browsers support that, the web as we know it will cease to exist.
Imagine each web page being like a flash applet. Great for the designers, but don't try to copy even a snippet of text, since they will have disabled it.

Re:JavaScript (1)

Vahokif (1292866) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822060)

The idea is that it wouldn't be able to do anything JavaScript can't do now. It would just use bytecode instead of JavaScript.

Why W3C? (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822022)

They're the ones who want to keep JavaScript and HTML for everything. Don't let them screw the pooch again.

Re:JavaScript (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822156)

. What we need is a bytecode-based platform like Java or .NET but completely open and managed by W3C

W3C does a great job with it's standards. Why, I hear [insert your favorite browser] is so compliant it will pass the ACID3 test any day now! (Sarcasm does not apply if you use Safari, Opera or one of the several Linux browsers that actually do.)

Re:JavaScript (1)

Vahokif (1292866) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822264)

It's not the W3C's fault that browsers only follow their standards 10 years after they're released.

Re:JavaScript (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822404)

It's not the W3C's fault that browsers only follow their standards 10 years after they're released.

One, that means they don't have the power to be worth entrusting new standards to.

Two, it is their fault. They allowed Microsoft and Netscape to add to their standards, resulting in an attitude of whatever. They release overly complex standards knowing that the earlier ones aren't being adhered to. They allow themselves to be pushed around by certain companies, ensuring that other companies have a vested interest in their standards failing.

Re:JavaScript (1)

Vahokif (1292866) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822492)

Standards bodies only enforce standards someone claims to follow but doesn't. That's not the case here.

No offline capabilities.... (5, Insightful)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821550)

I thought off-line storage was a big part of HTML5? Hell we're even using it now with our iPhone apps. There are a lot of things I like about google docs. It's great because we have a Joint Venture with a company in San Francisco where we're based out of St. Louis. We can edit in real time using Skype for voice and then see what people are editing in a text document or spreadsheet.

But Microsoft Office and iWork are both on my MacBook Pro. Why? Because sometimes I'm on an airplane and need to finish up that presentation for tomorrow or write a report, etc.. Or I'm riding in a car doing the same through the backwoods where the cell towers don't go. Until I can, Google Docs will not be replacing Office or iWork as my everyday office tools.

Re:No offline capabilities.... (2, Informative)

Brandee07 (964634) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822016)

The reason there's no Offline capability in the new GoogleDocs is cause it's not ready yet. They say, in so many words, that they plan to have the HTML5 Offline Mode up and running soon. Until then, use the Old Version + Gears.

This may not have been a good idea, but it is very Google-esque to roll out a new product with features missing.

damn that was one of my "big" ideas... (1)

Gri3v3r (1736820) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821672)

real time co-editing... i wondered how it was possible that nobody had not yet offered it. no,it is not that i was the only one on the planet that thought about it (google did too :P ). bah,i hope they do well implementing it. i will be curious to see it in action. ideas mean nothing when you are not capable of materializing them...

Great idea! (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822160)

Just like real-time co-driving - see, there are two steering wheels...

Re:Great idea! (1)

Gri3v3r (1736820) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822570)

watch out. google might implement this too. don't tell more.

Re:damn that was one of my "big" ideas... (1)

hawaiian717 (559933) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822470)

SubEthaEdit [subethaedit.net] has been offering it for years. Google Wave can do it too.

The emperor has no clothes: the apps are poor (5, Informative)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821758)

I recently took part in a collaborative project, resulting in a published book, which was done by means of Google Docs.

I was underwhelmed. I used only the "document" (word processing) tool. There were scores of little clunky things about the user interface, many puzzles and problems involving document exchange and permissions, and the "feature-completeness" of the application was maybe late 1980s.

But what really got me was that the basic editing operations were unreliable. I would insert a 12-point subheading above a 10-point text paragraph and the whole paragraph would change to 12-point text, stuff like that. Two sections might both show normal single-spaced line spacing within the editor, yet the final PDF output would render one of them as single-spaced and the other as double-spaced.

After a while I thought perhaps it was an incompatibility with Safari, although Google does not suggest any such thing, and switched to Firefox. There were still continual problems of this kind, popping up randomly; perhaps not as often and perhaps not exactly the same as under Safari.

If this were running locally under Windows or Mac OS, people would roll on the floor laughing at it. Apple's TextEdit or Microsoft's WordPad would blow it out of the water. If this is the best Web 2.0 can do, local PCs are safe.

The thing is, the press writes about them as if Google Docs were a full-featured, commercial-quality applications... as good a substitute for Word as, say, OpenOffice. It isn't. Under some conditions I guess the collaborative features make it better than nothing (the book got finished).

No doubt the marketers will spin it out endlessly by with continuous frank acknowledgement that whatever is the actual Google Docs you can get now IS a joke, it is the NEXT one that will be desktop-application quality--just as the next version of Windows will be secure and easy to use. We will see. But the current Google Docs, if considered as a serious alternative to a locally-hosted application, is a joke.

Re:The emperor has no clothes: the apps are poor (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31822082)

I think you are trying to use Docs for something it was not meant to to. Basic text processing is something it's very good at. Collaboration without the need to setup servers or special software is also very nice. For text writing and evaluation, all text processors are basically fine.

The problems you are referring to mainly deal with the visual appearance of the text. This is referred to as typesetting, and it is something that I personally would never do in either Google Docs, MS Office or OpenOffice. These tools, while easy to use, are not really designed for the fine grained control you want when creating a book. Typesetting is better done in software designed for that task like for example Adobe or LaTeX if you want to get down and dirty.

This saying goes for every profession: Use the right tool for the job.

Re:The emperor has no clothes: the apps are poor (2, Insightful)

FooHentai (624583) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822794)

Bullsh. He's talking about basic text formatting options that are buggy or in some cases, broken. He's dead right about that. Issues abound in Gmail, too... like how signature text and body text are treated differently when composing an email, and often that can bug out and leave you unable to edit the body text because GMail things it's all one big signature. Dumb.

Mind you, similar criticism can be applied to Word, too, it's less buggy than GDocs, but still has problems. Adding a page break then wondering why your new Heading 1 line is also changing the spacing on the previous page... or why you can't seem to move beyond the end of a table at the end of your document to start a new line. Stuff like that.

GDocs has some way to go in terms of usability, even for basic corporate documentation.

Re:The emperor has no clothes: the apps are poor (1)

sweatyboatman (457800) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822866)

Under some conditions I guess the collaborative features make it better than nothing (the book got finished).

So... the emperor has some clothes, then?

I mean, collaborative is one thing Word just isn't. Google Docs is essentially a collaboration tool.

Obviously the formatting features don't match up with the ones in Office, but you're replying to an article about a complete rebuilding of Google Docs to make it faster, more collaborative and, yes to add new features.

FTA:

formatting options like a margin ruler, better numbering and bullets, and more flexible image placement

Does docs have styles now? (1)

rduke15 (721841) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821794)

Last time I looked at Google Docs, I couldn't create a new style or modify the properties of an existing style. So it seemed to me that it was quite useless as a word processing app. Like Wordpad but slow.

The possibility to collaboratevily edit a document is really cool. But the situations in which this one feature outweighs the disadvantage of having to use some slow Wordpad alternative are quite rare for me. Last time I had a use for a shared doc it was spreadsheet over a year ago.

Shared / ACL controlled resources (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822254)

How does Google docs handle access to shared resources? In my mind I see "official" logos approved by the marketing department, or spreadsheets and diagrams put out by the finance department. In the current model, resources are kept in file shares and access is controlled by security tokens issued at login. What is Google going to do to offer similar functionality in the cloud? How are they going to provide controlled access to often used resources? Another example might be a document template (ie. a press release, etc).

The same question goes for Microsoft and other companies who are trying to move their productivity applications into "the cloud". How are they going to integrate the products into their directory so that access to resources can be controlled? How are they going to provide shared storage for often used assets?

Awesome 7p (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31822626)

continues toChew gave the BSD GNAA and suppor7 yes, I work for

Still missing revision tracking (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822768)

I am really surprised they still haven't implemented revision tracking in their document editor. I don't have to generate many office-type documents, but a few months ago I was working with two other (non-techie) co-workers on a somewhat generic "statement of purpose" document. My first thought was to use Google docs to make it easy; but then we discovered this shortcoming. For a system that's ostensibly about collaboration, this seems like a huge oversight.

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