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Design mode, document editing, and you

Published in Programming, Technology, Web  |  2 Comments

I was checking out a certain internet tablet and was wondering about the ability to write, share, and collaborate on documents using such a device. I imagine being in a conference, or meeting, and having a small tablet in which I have my own notes and share with others. I want it to be platform independent, unlike the very excellent, though Mac OS X only, SubEthaEdit.

Furthermore, being web-based, (like other web-based apps), syncronization is au gratis. Several very nice options such as Zoho Writer and the apparently very popular Writely are you slick, Ajax/Web 2.0 style interfaces.

Sadly, Writely does not work with the Nokia 770. This Opera Web Browser which is included with web -based editing landscape, as well as a support email from Writely confirms that Opera does not support “design mode”, which is the trick they’re using to do HTML editing in the web-browser.

WikiWYG is a WikiWiki that uses design mode to handle the inline text editing. Personally, I’ve just used my homegrown inline text editor.

Zoho Writer at first seems to work well within the embedded Opera browser, but doesn’t actually let you view or edit any of your documents. The interface is there, but no one is home. I assume Opera isn’t handling some of the Javascript calls for displaying available docs or the editing toolbar. Also, Zoho even on a desktop has the annoyance of not automatically saving. Therefore, you can be halfway through a new document, click a document from your library on the right, and the doc you were working on is gone. Yay, loss data – I’m always a fan of that.

Update: the developer of Zoho is aware of the issues regarding Opera/Safari & the possible loss of data when changing documents (there is apparently a 45 second auto-save of documents) and they are working on updates.

So, the result? Online, collaborative, sharing document editors are quickly rising, and there are no extreme barriers to entry on the bandwidth or technology front. Now comes the hard part, developing good, consistent User Interfaces, stability, and hopefully a little love from the community.

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  1. John says:

    April 14th, 2006 at 8:56 am (#)

    Just picked up on Writely being bought by Google.

    Writely had a good idea about what it was it wanted to do, but an antediluvian view of how important it was in the big picture. It ain’t. Now, hopefully, Google will be able to take the idea and do with it those things that Google has become most excellent at: providing access as freely and widely available as little google hearts can make it Google hit the “limiting-access” culture of Microsoft, et al., like the asteroid which put the finishing touch to the demise of the dinosaurs. Too bad for Microsoft, et al., that they have become so specialized at limiting access as a mechanism for survival and growth, that they either can’t escape or will simply be bought up by Google before they escape, if they get in Google’s way, or they will fade into irrelevance.

    Am I a googlephile? No. Just a realist. When you see an organism emerge from the herd, and jump to the head of the line in any niche, that usually spells doooooom for the others of its species that have overspecialized and who cannot adapt quickly enough to survive the competition. Stephen J. Gould would be proud of Google: Google is an object lesson that punctuated equilibrium is indeed a fundamental process. The trait which Google exhibited: eliminating the culture of limiting access. Absolutely cool. Just cool. Every time I read/hear a snide remark from about doing no evil as a corporate policy, I am reminded how the flatearth culture made snide remarks about Copenicus, et al.

    Yeppers, have a good day.

  2. Andrew says:

    April 14th, 2006 at 9:03 am (#)

    Very good points John. The very recent release of Google Calendar made me re-think the Google as a Microsoft but open. Google is definitely building up an entire toolset like Microsoft did with Windows + Office + other products.

    But as you point out, the difference is that Google is more about open. Google Calendar is available via XML and iCal – both open standards. Google services are available as API’s and Google provides libraries and open-source projects to push the cause.

    I can’t imagine why Google would want to buy Microsoft, other than to finish the killing stroke at that late date. Google’s operation and model seems so much different from Microsoft’s target.