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Writely.com Beta - Google's Answer to Word 426

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the more-options-for-fun-and-excitement dept.
bahree writes "Google has launched their beta version of Writely.com. Writely is their word processor and answer to Microsoft Word. In addition to the usual editing features it includes many collaboration features, as well as the ability to save documents as PDFs and RSS feeds."
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Writely.com Beta - Google's Answer to Word

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  • What?! (Score:4, Informative)

    by FunWithKnives (775464) <ParadoxPerfect@t ... t ['st.' in gap]> on Saturday August 19, 2006 @09:41PM (#15942476) Journal
    No Opera support? Oh well.. Maybe in the future..
    • Re:What?! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Jugalator (259273) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @09:48PM (#15942506) Journal
      No Safari support either, which may actually affect more users than the lack of Opera support, despite Firefox's popularity on Mac.
      • Re:What?! (Score:4, Informative)

        by prockcore (543967) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @10:13PM (#15942568)
        No Safari support either


        Not suprising, Safari's DesignMode support is pathetic. You'll have to wait until Leopard.
      • by Rich0 (548339)
        No Konqueror support. Not that this should be surprising considering the lack of Safari support.

        I gave up on firefox due to the excessively long timeouts when loading pages. For whatever odd reason it occasionally takes all day to load a page, and when this happens other tabs refuse to load either. I've had browsers with 15 tabs all spinning doing nothing and then all the sudden they all load.
        • Re:What?! (Score:5, Informative)

          by fuzzix (700457) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @10:08AM (#15943931) Journal
          I gave up on firefox due to the excessively long timeouts when loading pages. For whatever odd reason it occasionally takes all day to load a page, and when this happens other tabs refuse to load either. I've had browsers with 15 tabs all spinning doing nothing and then all the sudden they all load.

          This might be an IPv6 issue. It's common enough with ISP supplied routers which simply don't deal with IPv6 requests so those requests have to time out before an IPv4 one is submitted. To test this open about:config in firefox and change network.dns.disableIPv6 to true.

          If that helps it might be an idea to disable IPv6 system wide by adding this to /etc/modprobe.conf (modules.conf on a 2.4 kernel):

          alias net-pf-10 off

          Good luck :)
      • Explained in FAQ (Score:5, Informative)

        by alphabetsoup (953829) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @11:25PM (#15942786)
        They explain it here: http://www.google.com/support/writely/bin/answer.p y?answer=38914&topic=8616 [google.com]

        The reason is poor design mode support in Safari.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Phrogz (43803)
          They barely explain it, as far as I'm concerned. I'd be interested in knowing exactly what sorts of problems they have with Safari's design mode support. Maybe they're already talking directly with Apple; in case they're not, I'd like to know specifics instead of vague claims that ~"stuff doesn't work fully".
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by prockcore (543967)

            I'd be interested in knowing exactly what sorts of problems they have with Safari's design mode support

            http://www.mozilla.org/editor/midas-spec.html [mozilla.org]

            You see that big list of Supported Commands? Safari only supports bold, italic, and undo.

            Even worse, Safari doesn't support the StyleWithCSS command, and the actual code output is a mess of Apple-specific classes and spans everywhere. I've seen cleaner code come out of frontpage.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by rm69990 (885744)
        Both Safari and Opera lack decent rich text editing capabilities, which both Firefox and Internet Explorer have, which is why this doesn't surprise me. Windows Live Mail, Yahoo! Mail Beta, Writely, Gmail...pretty much any web service, no matter what the company behind the service is, that has rich text editing as a feature either only work with rich text turned off or not at all in my experience with Safari, Konqueror, Opera, etc etc.
    • Re:What?! (Score:4, Informative)

      by WoLpH (699064) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @10:28PM (#15942618)
      Wouldn't be the first, google doesn't support opera at all, not with gmail, not with gcalendar, not with spreadsheets, not with personalized search, not with....etc.
      (altough most of it works pretty well without the support)
    • Re:What?! (Score:5, Informative)

      by jlarocco (851450) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @10:38PM (#15942648) Homepage

      Why the hell did someone mod the parent troll? It really doesn't support Opera. It redirects here [writely.com]. I know it goes against the usual unabashed fellating of Google, but pointing out a flaw in one of their products is not trolling.

      • Re:What?! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by l3v1 (787564) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @05:32AM (#15943465)
        but pointing out a flaw in one of their products is not trolling

        I don't think telling you that my product supports this and this and that, and telling you that it doesn't yet support these and those yet, is a flaw in my product. It might be lack of features on my part, it might be lack of features in your browsers you would like to use with my product, still, when I tell you in advance what it does and what it doesn't, then I really think you shouldn't label it as being flawed.

    • More people are switching to Opera now. Whether you like or hate the widgets thing, it's still a damn good brwoser. Some of FF's most popular extensions are imiations of standard features in Opera. That was not a troll.
  • One step closer... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ack154 (591432) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @09:41PM (#15942478)
    ... to a complete office suite. I've been using the Google Spreadsheets [google.com] for a little while from the link in my Gmail account. Signed up for Writely the other day when I saw it on Ars. Pretty neat for an online application. Not too much left for a nice office productivity suite, excpet maybe a database app and/or a presentation app.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by gradedcheese (173758)
      I suppose Google Base is a step toward the database side of things: http://base.google.com/base [google.com]
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by blamanj (253811)
        Any data placed into Google Base is public. It's not really database functionality, it's more like a tagged and highly structured web page.
    • by eln (21727) * on Saturday August 19, 2006 @10:02PM (#15942545) Homepage
      As a business, why would I use an office suite that requires me to (in effect) give a copy of all of my documents to another corporation, when I have a perfectly good alternative that only costs a few hundred bucks per seat? The privacy concerns for this thing are far too great to overcome the cost advantage for a business that cares about keepings its corporate secrets secret.
      • by Cybersonic (7113)
        And if the privacy thing is no big deal - free is quite compelling...
        • by JFMulder (59706) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @10:23PM (#15942602)
          Why have free and not private when you can have free and private. I've been using Open Office for a year under Windows and haven't felt the need to switch back to anything else. Google has actually created something that is less useful than other free alternatives.
          • by stony3k (709718) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .k3ynots.> on Saturday August 19, 2006 @10:39PM (#15942651) Homepage
            One advantage I can see is that your documents will be available anywhere you can get access to the web, which can be a pretty compelling argument. I also suspect that Google will try to sell a complete Office server to corporates, which will let them keep their data secure on their private servers while still letting their employees access these documents from the web. In fact, I'd bet that's why MS is so scared of Google.
            • by JFMulder (59706) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @10:51PM (#15942689)
              Well, I believe that Microsoft's Share Point initiative is something similar to what Google might be about to unleash. The only difference would be that Microsoft's costs more. This might be an interesting thing to implement in Open Office or any other open source office application. As far as availability, my preference is to have my USB key in my pocket to bring stuff around. I wouldn't put anything important on Google's servers, because of privacy issues. For example, I'd never put my budget spreadsheet in Google's Spreadsheet even it was the best application ever. There's just some data that is more convenient to be private than to be accessible.
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by YrWrstNtmr (564987)
                Well, I believe that Microsoft's Share Point initiative is something similar to what Google might be about to unleash. The only difference would be that Microsoft's costs more.

                Actually, Sharepoint Sevices costs nothing, apart from the base Server2003 licensing. Sharepoint Portal, OTOH, does dig into your pocket. But I imagine most small/medium companies could get by using just the Services portion.

                Now shipping as part of Windows Server 2003 R2 or available for download at no additional charge, Microso [microsoft.com]
              • by Viceice (462967) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @01:29AM (#15943075)
                But think of the potential! Instead of free storage on Googles servers, they could sell companies a network device that stores ALL the companies documents on the device. and everybody could work from there...

                Then they could sell a smaller version to home users, you simply plug it into your router/switch at home and suddenly you can work on the same stuff anywhere on your network, and potentially anywhere in the world! Plus it uses the same storage system as Gmail, so no longer will you have documents scattered all over multiple machines with multiple revisions, they will now be in one place and searchable with the powerful search engine for which Google is famed.

                If they'd make that i'll ditch office and buy it today.
                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by Firehed (942385)
                  I'd be very surprised if the next Google Minis [googlestore.com] don't come with their e-office suite (if a full one is developed, of course) preinstalled as standard. You can bet that it'd integrate very well with your office (or home) fileserver. While the starting $2000 is a bit much for home users, the 50,000 docs it offers is as well - a couple hundred bucks for maybe 5,000 docs would be great for home users (though chances are someone would end up hacking the firmware so it would index more stuff, as I doubt the limi
              • by RareButSeriousSideEf (968810) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @02:26AM (#15943182) Homepage Journal
                Nah, the difference will be that Microsoft will bloat their offerings so much they won't fit through the office door. Google keeps `em down to the most utilized features -- those worth cramming into an Ajax app.

                Privacy issues are a legitimate concern no doubt, but let me tell you: I'm a full time developer on the MS stack - including SharePoint - and the last thing in the world I'd ever want to have to use on a regular basis is a SharePoint portal. I've seen plenty of abandoned SP implementations, mainly over complexity, learning curve and sluggishness of navigation. I've seen none fully utilized.

                If Google realizes how many concerns they'd ease by offering strong crypto, I think they'd win over that fraction of the market who, like you, are holding out over privacy conerns. For example, if they offered encrypted storage whereby they had only the public and not the private keys to the stored documents, I'd be fine with storing just about anything on their servers.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by frdmfghtr (603968)

              I also suspect that Google will try to sell a complete Office server to corporates, which will let them keep their data secure on their private servers while still letting their employees access these documents from the web.

              Oh, I like that...I like that thought a lot. That certainly would be a killer app--you could use nearly any hardware at the workstations running any OS that would support a compatible web browser. No worrying about deploying application upgrades to the workstations, hardware will be

          • by Planesdragon (210349) <slashdot@castl e s t e e l s t o ne.us> on Sunday August 20, 2006 @12:13AM (#15942921) Homepage Journal
            Google has actually created something that is less useful than other free alternatives.

            Google bought something that has a feature no other word processor has -- real, real-time collaboration.

            I look forward to using it, for just that purpose, to see if it's worth anything at all.
            • by Robotech_Master (14247) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @02:14AM (#15943161) Homepage Journal
              Writely's real-time collaboration, in my opinion, leaves something to be desired.

              I'm used to using MoonEdit [moonedit.com], which, while only a text editor, is a fully collaborative one. You see the letters appear the instant they are typed, unlike with Writely which seems to update chunks of paragraph every thirty seconds or so.

              And MoonEdit puts each contributor's typing in a different color, so you can easily tell at a glance what's yours and what's theirs.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by siriuskase (679431)
          I've seen the future and it is not private. No matter how much we may say we want privacy, we will trade it away in a heartbeat for anything thats free.
        • by jbn-o (555068) <mail@digitalcitizen.info> on Sunday August 20, 2006 @02:10AM (#15943154) Homepage
          Although you mean price when you say "free", it is interesting to note what Google's online services deprive you of.

          I'm not free to run Writely on my own LAN so that my LAN users don't have to reveal the content of their documents to Google. For all I know, Google will leak a user's information and I'd rather not give them so much information to work with. They say they "take security very seriously" in their Writely tour but I can't prevent a disgruntled Google employee from distributing copies of information I've written with Writely except to not give them that information in the first place.

          I'm also not free to modify Writely to suit my needs. So if I want to run the service on a machine in my house and provide that service to myself over the Internet, I can't make sure that the program does what I want it to do.

          Most of the services Google offers are unimaginative and simply not attractive when one considers that they're indexing everything you do with them so that they can build saleable profile on you and possibly inadvertantly leak information to others. I'd rather run locally-hosted free software programs like OpenOffice.org.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by whoop (194)
            You are free to write your own word processor for your own use.

            This is getting ridiculous, even for Slashdot. They have a service, use it if you want, don't if you don't want it. It's pointless to go on and on (though you will) about how it doesn't have X feature. This isn't going to be the final word processor ever. You can still use Word, Open Office, vim, emacs, etc. if those suit your needs.

            Do all of you stand in front of an 8-year-old's lemonade stand and complain to them for hours about how much y
      • by timeOday (582209)
        The privacy concerns for this thing are far too great to overcome the cost advantage
        I would have thought so too, but surprisingly I've had people give me a gmail or hotmail account for business mail. In fact, one person I know with a .mil email was having me send copies to hotmail due to reliability problems with their official account! (Of course, I'm sure that was against a rule or two).
      • by supabeast! (84658) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @10:45PM (#15942668)
        "...why would I use an office suite that requires me to (in effect) give a copy of all of my documents to another corporation, when I have a perfectly good alternative that only costs a few hundred bucks per seat?"

        Any business with a competent IT staff is already putting all its documents in the hands of another corporation on a regular basis in the form of off-site backups. This just automates the process :)
        • by pchan- (118053) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @11:25PM (#15942787) Journal
          Any business with a competent IT staff is already putting all its documents in the hands of another corporation on a regular basis in the form of off-site backups.

          Your off-site backups are not encrypted? Why not? You may want to rethink the comment about competent IT.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Nutria (679911)
            Your off-site backups are not encrypted?

            No.

            Why not?

            Cost.

            The overhead of encrypting 3TB of database data every night would require 9 extra CPUs. Which would mean higher licensing fees from Oracle, 3 completely new AlphaServers from HP (since the backplanes are currently maxed out), new tape drives (the current ones are getting long in the tooth) etc, etc.

            So, we encrypt vital columns like CC number and rely on security-thru-obscurity (not that many places run OpenVMS anymore).
      • Google offer business several localized, private versions of their more popular tools. Google searching of corporate intranets, for example. It is not impossible that when these office tools have matured, Google will offer a standalone server option at a cost businesses can afford.

        If this were the case, the privacy issue you mention would suddenly become the greatest feature of the application. Documents are kept on the corporate server and can be controlled, searched, and backed up easily, collaboration is
      • by Elwood P Dowd (16933) <judgmentalist@gmail.com> on Saturday August 19, 2006 @10:49PM (#15942684) Journal
        The reason you'd use Google everything as a small business, isn't because you'd save $<small> on MS Office. It's because you'd save $<large> on servers & an IT Department.

        Would you rather set up exchange, some open source calendaring app, or goocal?

        Me too.

        So you're right, it's cost vs secrecy, but the cost savings is gigantic.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Skim123 (3322)

        As a business, why would I use an office suite that requires me to (in effect) give a copy of all of my documents to another corporation, when I have a perfectly good alternative that only costs a few hundred bucks per seat?

        You wouldn't. Good things that Fortune 500 companies are not the market audience for Writely. Google, IMO, is trying to market to a very large consumer segment that the other entrenched players aren't interested in (i.e., Microsoft, Apple) - the novice computer user who's computer use

      • by mshiltonj (220311) <mshiltonj@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Saturday August 19, 2006 @11:10PM (#15942745) Homepage Journal
        As a business, you might find it useful to buy a "Google Office Box" to install on your network. This preconfigured works-out-of-the-box hardware/software product will run your small office's email, calendaring, search, spreadsheets and documents. It also comes with with a great Service Level Agreeement backed by Certified Google Technicians.

        Need more horsepower? Add another box, change a couple configuration settings, and the load is distributed - it scales horizontally.

        Since its all server-side and browser based, it fits seamlessly into you current environment. Training shouldn't be a showstopper. Heck, many of your employees are probably already using a couple of the consumer versions these services already.

        It won't be long until it comes time to upgrade your offices desktop PCs. You won't need any Office licences any more. No more Exchange Server. In fact (as your Google account representives tells you) there's this Ubuntu Linux package that may even make all those Windows licences uncessary. They can refer you to a Canonical account representative.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by oscartheduck (866357)
          I can see how google will follow the server end of things and eat up the Office market, but I don't see why they'd go out of their way to discuss Ubuntu as a replacement for Windows when they don't even support linux on a lot of their applications. There's no reason to think of the last step besides wishful thinking.

          However, it *is* a good possibility that people like you and me will be able to use the no-more-Office argument as a great reason to go from Windows to Linux at the next budget meeting after w
      • Well once google gets the bugs worked out of it they can release a corprate edition that does it on site like their LAN indexing tools.
      • I don't think you should, as a business. For personal matters though, it's quite nice. I've been trying to lose weight and have been using Google Spreadsheets to track my calorie count through the day. I can access it from work and from home, and since my task is so simple the lack of advanced features doesn't bother me that much (all I need is a SUM() function and tabbed browsing).

        You're absolutely right about businesses having more robust and feature-full alternatives, which is why I think Google's goi
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by aussie_a (778472)
        Most businesses don't care about keeping their data secret from third parties they deal with as they often use Windows XP with an internet connection enabled, which gives Microsoft the ability to look through your computer and data whenever they feel like it.

        I'd feel safer giving my data to Google over Microsoft. Doesn't mean I'd feel safe though.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by vhogemann (797994)
        Agreed,

        But as a business I would be very interested in deploying these services at my local network, considering that Google already provides an indexing/searching appliance a "Google Office Appliance" might be possible.

        If they manage to develop a plugin for OpenOffice, so I can save and open my documents directly to Writely or Spreadsheets, I can see a serious threat to MSOffice. These Web2.0 applications can't substitute a regular desktop application yet, but integrated with a regular Office suite it woul
    • by andrewman327 (635952) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @11:16PM (#15942761) Homepage Journal
      I don't know if they are any closer to anything than they were a long time ago. Google referred to Writely as being in beta back in March [slashdot.org]. I have used it since before Google bought it and the overall experience has constantly improved. I fail to see how today heralds anything new at all. Many people [slashdot.org] have commented about it here.
  • Sweet (Score:5, Funny)

    by Spazntwich (208070) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @09:44PM (#15942487)
    I'm sure this will also feature Google's well known "infinite retention" plan, whereby anything you ever write is saved on their backup servers, sent into space as microwaves to be preserved should the earth be destroyed, and also dumped into several randomly selected alternate dimensions so even cataclysmic destruction of our reality can't get rid of your records.
    • Re:Sweet (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mochan_s (536939) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @09:57PM (#15942534)

      Seriously, since I heard about Google's infinite retention policy, I'm even afraid of using google search anymore. For the simpler stuff I use other search engines. Half the pages I go to have Google ads and by using gmail and google groups, they've got a lot of information on me.

      The last last thing I want to do is use Google to edit my documents.

      It hasn't happened as much yet but soon I expect to go somewhere and see Google ads with very interesting (to me) titles. Then, I'll click and spend time on it and make me feel like I need to buy this or that.

      Seriously, someone has to start an open-source project to write a super-duper search engine code so that websites can use it to search themselves. It's easier to use google to search through slashdot that to use the slashdot search feature (which sucks really bad by the way).

      We have open source firefox and thunderbirld, we need open source code for searching.

      I'm staying away from Google calendars and google what nots from now on due to privacy concerns.

      • by gameforge (965493)
        Well, what we really need is, an open source search engine like you say, and maybe a philanthropist since the large collection of terabytes required to index the entire web would be quite expensive (and probably insufficient after some time). Then there's that bandwidth issue of being able to crawl the entire web fast enough to keep the index up to date as well as turn over hundreds if not tens of thousands of queries per second, and the clusters needed to search the index in tiny fractions of a second.

        So
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jez9999 (618189)
        It hasn't happened as much yet but soon I expect to go somewhere and see Google ads with very interesting (to me) titles. Then, I'll click and spend time on it and make me feel like I need to buy this or that.

        I'm sorry, but that sounds really stupid. What are you saying exactly? You're scared that you're too weak to resist buying something if they market it to you really well, and it's really appropriate for you? Therefore you don't want them to advertise? You're in control of your buying decisions; you
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      even cataclysmic destruction of our reality can't get rid of your records

      Which means, of course, that any three-lettered government agency should have no trouble whatsoever getting them. And you thought that the death of the universe would help your sorry ass... ;)

    • Re:Sweet (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rolfwind (528248) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @10:02PM (#15942547)
      Anything you type down should be things that you don't mind any others seeing. This is something you might think only needs to kept in mind with gmail, but it is a good overall rule, as even regular email itself can be stored by the recipient indefinitely and be used at a later date.

      As Cardinal Richelieu said:
      "If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him."
      • Re:Sweet (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mochan_s (536939) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @10:19PM (#15942588)

        We're not talking about individual pieces of information here. It's a collection of information from various sources that are available to be mined.

        Google will know who you talk to, where you spend your money, where you spend your time and what you talk about and do. Now, also the documents you work on.

        Just from a couple of posts on slashdot, I can see you either own iPod or use iTunes extensively. I'm sure you will be very interested in a detailed review when a new iPod comes out. You said you are buying the Wii in a post. And, I'm just human. A machine can make a list of all the things you plan to buy or check out and direct you to reviews, discussions, blogs about them that makes you want to buy them more.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Zelbinian (992687)
          With most companies I might be a little more worried, but the way Google battled the US Goverment when they tried to get ahold of those records (as opposed to AOL who wetted itself and went and cried in the corner) is reassuring. Sure, they'll use the money for advertising. So what? That happens anyway. Even "outside" the Internet. Seriously, watch The Corporation if you don't believe real-world product placement exists. Data mining has been happening for decades before Google came along. So yeah, they do i
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Zelbinian (992687)
            Sure, they'll use the money for advertising

            And by money I mean data. One in the same nowadays, right?
          • Re:Sweet (Score:5, Insightful)

            by mochan_s (536939) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @12:37AM (#15942976)

            I think you've fallen into the trap of anthromorphosizing Google.

            Google isn't a guy who lives down the street and has a specific character and you can depend on him to hold on to your secrets.

            The leaders of the google has a policy and all but in reality it has stockholders and is traded on the stock market. People can retire, be fired or replaced but Google is still there.

            Saying something like I trust Google doesn't make sense. If there is an oppertunity to sucessfully exploit for money then you can safely bet Google will do it eventually.

            I remember Microsoft in the early days. Everyone considered Bill Gates a genuis. A reporter even asked him if he thought he should have gone to Physics instead of starting Microsoft? People thought he was so brilliant and genuis. It didn't take long for Microsoft to exploit their powers and become evil since no-one could do anything about it.

  • Very Impressive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dontbflat (994444) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @09:45PM (#15942490) Homepage
    The interface was very easy to use. I'm impressed. Google spreadsheets didnt impress me this much as writely does. Publish, others can edit it, save as PDF....damn its beautiful. I have no complaints. Heck, now I can use this for work to create PDF documents for my co-workers to follow. Yay for Google.....maybe powerpoint competitor next?
  • Links please! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jugalator (259273) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @09:46PM (#15942499) Journal
    What's with the lack of a direct link [writely.com]? Oh right, blogvertising. Forgot.
    (check the blog's title for a laugh from the author's mental age by the way)
  • Seamonkey (Score:3, Informative)

    by pembo13 (770295) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @09:47PM (#15942502) Homepage
    Doesn't work in SeaMonkey 1.0.4, though I suspect this is an oversight as they have Mozilla 1.6 in their compatability listing.
  • by sagefire.org (731545) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @09:48PM (#15942504) Homepage
    Under 10.4.7, set Safari to Mozilla 1.1 as its User Agent (in the debug menu). Writely works great then, even though it is listed as unsupported.
  • This is so old (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ben there... (946946) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @09:50PM (#15942511) Journal
    Writely has been available for almost a year [blogspot.com]. The only news is that they've finished sending invitations to the waiting list and reopened public registration.
    • by ack154 (591432)
      Ya, the Ars [arstechnica.com] link may have been better to explain the situation instead of some guy's blog trying to get hits.
  • No privacy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by It doesn't come easy (695416) * on Saturday August 19, 2006 @10:01PM (#15942541) Journal
    Remember, anything on someone else's server is destined to become public knowledge. It may be inadvertent, it may be because of a court order, a government investigation, a rogue employee, or because someone hacks the server. In the future world of software as a service, where your personal data is stored on someone else's computer, the privacy of that data is only as good as the technical, legal, and political environment makes it. For the US, as recent months have proven, that means there is no privacy you can count on. So be sure you never write about your questionable deductions on your income tax, or your recent affair in the Bahamas, or how you managed to carry banned items on your last airplane trip, or anything else you wouldn't want public, when using this service.
    • by mochan_s (536939)

      I think the future model will probably be like phpBB. Anyone with a website can set one up in 10 minutes and so your information is scattered all over the web. Google is bad since it's in centralized Google but there are million copies of phpBB will their own posts everywhere.

      Also,if it's going to be stored on someone else's computer, then it has to be encrypted! There is no reason to store unencrypted documents on Google servers.

  • Hassles now... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @10:05PM (#15942552) Homepage

    ...or hassles later?

    The reviewer says Writely might be useful because downloading and installing OOo is too much of a hassle. Hmm...what about the hassle of managing two sets of files: one on your computer's hard disk and one on the google grid? The confusion when you end up with two versions of the same file, one on your computer and one on google's grid? What about the hassle that comes when you want to edit your document, but you don't have internet access at the moment? What about the hassle when you find out it doesn't work in the browser you have installed on the machine you're using at the moment? What about the hassle when your document gets too big, and Writely's performance starts to be unacceptable?

    AJAX is fundamentally a bad idea. It's an attempt to use a web browser and http for something they were never designed to do, and they can't do without browser-specific hacks on the developer's side, and breaking lots of familiar conventions on the user's side. It's also a retreat into proprietary software, at a moment when a full-featured stack of open-source apps is pretty much ready for prime time.

  • by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Saturday August 19, 2006 @10:08PM (#15942556) Homepage Journal
    I don't know about personal files, but I think that I'll be putting my blog posts in there. If they enhance the ability to post to my blog (wordpress) then I will probably actually just write all the posts there. But right now, I'll probably post to my blog, copy the text and then shoot over to writely and save it there. Obviously it is not private, but I like that google will be backing it up for me. The jokes above about it never going away are funny - but really, that is appealing for content that I intend to be public.
     
    And if anyone is curious. The document I posted to my blog went over - but without the title or categories. That gets fixed and it is a nicer editor than the one built into wordpress itself.
  • But it still seems a little bare-bones to me. There doesn't seem to be many formatting options... not even a ruler. I'm a little miffed that there's no customization what-so-ever.

    Oh well, I'm the guy that thinks that everyone should write their documents in a propper page-layout program, like InDesign, or use a simple RTF edittor for the rest. I really hate DOC, ODF, and all these bastardized rtf/page-layout hybrids, anyway... so I'll probably just stick to using TextEdit and InDesign, like I always have.

  • First impressions (Score:5, Informative)

    by planckscale (579258) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @10:14PM (#15942574) Journal
    When creating a new document, a popup dialog asks for the file name. The default text is Verdana. They give you about 18 different fonts. The font dropdown menu does not provide a preview of the font.

    Inserting an image is easy - a dialog pops up asking to browse, uploading was very fast. Clicking on the image gives you handles and when dragging to resize, the image shades and is re-sized easily and centers again. Numbering works as expected, bullets are not aliased circles, but small "diamonds". Keyboard shortcuts like cut and paste, bold, italicize and underline perform as expected.

    "Right clicking" in empty pane brings up their menu with cut, copy, insert image, insert link and bookmark, select all etc and the ability to insert 196 special characters

    Save as html, rtf, open office, word, and pdf. Also has tags and create RSS. "Collaborate" looks interesting but did not have time to test it. I think this feature is Writely's biggest benefit. Also "Publish, blog, revisions, and HTML Preview menus".

    Overall I'm impressed, the only problem I had was creating a colored background.

  • Hmm. .ASPX. All your bases belog to us... I wonder how the asp environment works with the Google grid.
  • by nbahi15 (163501) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @10:17PM (#15942579) Homepage
    I have discovered a major flaw in this version of the product. It offers Comic Sans as a font!!! Please Google, kill Comic Sans, kill.
  • It's so secure Homeland Security is only sent ONE copy automatically. Wow that's good!

    I use Google spreadsheet for tracking some clan items in a game, but that's just about as far as I would ever trust Google.

    I understand their target(ed) market(ing) is kids who frankly just need to write about sex and drugs, but for any business, or really any adult, Google is just not an option at all.

    Still, tis damn cool to have the collaboration of UNIX apps from the 80's ... ON THE WEB. It's double cool because nobody
  • by Ichigo Kurosaki (886802) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @10:34PM (#15942635)
    Google is not in its dictionary.
  • by MarkWatson (189759) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @10:35PM (#15942638) Homepage
    And the winner is: Writely!
    I wrote about Writely a few days ago (and generally liked it [blogspot.com]). I wrote my own online word processor last year (KBdocs.com [kbdocs.com] for my own use, then opened up free registration - got 1000+ uesers. My system was a 3 evening hack - generally OK, but not feature rich.
    Google Calendars has a huge advantage because of the GMail integration. Writely.com's advantage will likely be a good integration with blogspot, etc.
  • Missing feature (Score:3, Interesting)

    by The MAZZTer (911996) <megazzt@noSpAM.gmail.com> on Saturday August 19, 2006 @10:45PM (#15942667) Homepage

    Writely is missing the fundamental concept of page breaks. I imported an ODT and my manual page breaks were ignored, footnotes were all dumped at the bottom of the document (as opposed to the bottom of each page). It wasn't pretty.

    It also failed to import the font correctly (I typed the document in ARIAL, not Times New Roman!). Everything else was fine, though.

    • by Yorrike (322502)
      Other lacking features I've noticed are, firstly related to page breaks, there's no way to add page numbers. There's also no way to add captions to images. I'll pass my final judgement once it leaves beta. If that ever happens, as is the trend of Google products.
  • by supabeast! (84658) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @10:49PM (#15942682)
    Anyone want to start a pool on what CSS/javascript features get broken or removed in future releases of IE7 as Microsoft tries to kill Writely and Google Spreadsheets?
  • What? Am I remembering wrong, or has Writely been around long before it was a part of Google? I just read the headlines and thought, wait a minute, that makes no sense - how do Writely and Google go together? It was in a PC magazine a few months ago as a featured link, so I don't think this is cutting-edge new, although Google's affiliation may be.

    Also worthy of note, this is also not the only thing of its type: Thinkfree Office [thinkfree.com] is also around.

    But good to see that services like these are getting more at

  • by xigxag (167441) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @11:44PM (#15942834)
    for people who link to their own poorly written blog without stating such in the summary??

    Anyway, FWIW, CNET wrote a real review of the Writely Beta a couple of months ago [cnet.com]. Writely seems to be missing something very important, unless I didn't notice it in my perusal of the article. It's all very well and good that access to the documents is password protected. But what they also need is for the documents to be optionally autosaved in a strongly encrypted format, so that even if someone gets access to your online folder, they can't (easily) read what's there.

    Google seems to think they are miraculously immune to privacy snafus. I know the company is run by some very smart guys, but everybody makes mistakes. This is not an area to which they should be giving short shrift.
  • by Jahz (831343) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @11:56PM (#15942866) Homepage Journal
    One of my friends worked for Google up until a few weeks ago. We discussed this issue a few times as I would criticize the big G for not supporting sarafi/konquerer as fast as IE/FF. If you remember Google Maps initial beta, you should recall that it had pretty poor browser support. In, fact this has been a theme throughout many Google betas. The truth is that when Google says "beta" they really mean "proof of concept." I guess people would rather use Betas than POCs for the obvious reasons.


    You and I say "why can't this support safari,oper,konquerer?" The whole cross-platform concept is very very expensive. It requires developers, testers, a qa qualification process, time, etc. All that is waaay to much (even for a rich company) to invest in every project. Add into this mix the fact that most of Google Labs' ambitious projects... well... fade gracefully into the night... it's just not worth it.


    We're all familiar with the process by now. Google releases a new Beta. People use it, or they don't. After a few months, if enough interest remains, Google will start putting some muscle behind its beta. Other ideas don't get so popular and never escape the Google Labs page. (though they don't exactly die either... more like a deep sleep) There are many examples of underdeveloped proof of concept projects at http://labs.google.com/ [google.com] like the really cool Google Ride Finder. The world just isnt ready for that yet.


    Also see Google Suggest, the oldest remaining beta (4 years!!). It's downright crappy webpage is a front for an underdeveloped topic detection algorithm. I wish they'd finish it or open the source :)

  • Is it just me? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JustNiz (692889) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @12:12AM (#15942918)
    ...or does anyone else also hate the idea of having private documents stored on a server rather than (only) on your own PC?
  • by sdnoob (917382) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @01:44AM (#15943108)
    The way that most (home users especially) buy computers, they already come with a word processor of some sort bundled with all the other crap the OEM (HP, Dell, etc) sticks on the system. It's nearly impossible to buy a major manufacturer's system without all the preloaded junk, and often times you spend the same or more on the stripped down version. (Yes, you can 'roll your own' system, but *MOST* people don't do that, nor do they know how.) So, most home users have either Works or Word Perfect (Mac's have their own), which is more than adequate for virtually all their text document writing needs. Those that don't have something preloaded can install OpenOffice.org or even Abiword for a free word processor.

    Big business, with the typical big-business IT strategy has already chosen (most likely) Microsoft Office to standardize on. The few forward-thinking organizations are already using something like OpenOffice.org.

    Many business users of Microsoft Office have 'install at home' rights to their business' license of Office, so those folks can use Office at home as well as at work.

    With a 500k maximum document size, limited feature set, and all the privacy concerns that go along with using a Google-owned web application -- the only people that can really get some use out of Writely is people with blogs who can post directly one of the six compatible blogging sites (since blogs are typically published to the public, less privacy issues). And still, you're giving Google your login information for the blog (another privacy concern), so I'd think it's only a viable tool for Google's own Blogger.com users (since Google's already got your login information there).

    And, not to forget, a web-based app requires web access of a sufficient speed to use -- and not everybody is hooked up to a full-time high speed internet connection. "Little Tommy couldn't hand in his homework because the internet was down" could become the new "My dog ate my homework", and with reliability problems some broadband providers have, there might actually be some truth to the excuse.

    The speculation of a Google-box appliance that big business can install on their own LAN, without the privacy concerns of using a Google web-based application sounds like it *could* be a serious contender against Microsoft Office, but it needs to be a complete and integrated solution suite, and even then it will likely be a tough sell. Google's got a lot of work to do before they're ready for that.

    I think it's primarily a traffic generating gimmick for Google (until the above business server materializes). People will use it, but not necessarily need the few unique features it has, simply because "it's there" and they've already been hooked into some other Google gimmick or gadget (mail, calendar, talk, etc).
  • by realinvalidname (529939) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @06:39AM (#15943548) Homepage

    ThinkFree [thinkfree.com] does more, works on more browsers, is better integrated with the user's operating system (OMG, I actually get to use all my own fonts?), works with two-byte characters (OMG, I can type in Japanese and the saved .doc won't consist of little boxes?), and offers a stronger user experience (OMG, I still get cut/copy/paste, and undo/redo? And print?). Of course, /.'ers are expected to hate ThinkFree because it's written in Java.

    Have fun reinventing the wheel as a stone cube, kids. Knock yourselves out.

  • by KidSock (150684) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @11:18AM (#15944105)
    Is anyone really going to use this for anything but making "Lost Dog" signs? In a corporate environment or even if you're just a small business there's simply no replacement for Microsoft Word. Can your word processor do the following things:

    Does it have a concept of "styles" where you can select a style or select content and apply a style to it?
    Can you insert footnotes that are automatically numbered properly? If you delete one, are they re-numbered properly?
    Can you have header and footer text?
    Can you designate text as a TOC item and rebuilt the TOC at will? Can you enter alternate text for a TOC element that should appear only in the TOC and not have to change the text it's linked to?
    Can you apply a table style easily without tweeking individual attributes of the table?
    Can you copy and paste a table from a spreadsheet into the document?
    Can you script the document such that information is retrieved from a database?

    In fact, to get me to stop using Word I think the replacement would have to provide more than the above Word features (e.g. apply an XSLT template). Note, Word 2003+ reads and writes XML pretty well now (and it's not just base64 encoded chunks of binary ole specific stuff). I wish, oh I wish, there was a replacement for Microsoft Word. But it just ain't so.

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