Monday, August 7, 2006

I'm Excited, and Writely So

When writing drafts for this blog, I have been struggling with how to type up the articles. Sometimes I am working on different computers and I need an easy way of moving the documents between locations. So far I have been using a USB drive where I store the documents. This has the drawback of needing the same application installed on all computers. Another option is setting up an automatic synchronization between shared computers but it doesn't work for me because some of them are blocked behind a firewall.

Enter the new paradigm of online word processors! The idea is that your documents are edited using your web browser and the files are hosted on the service's website. You can choose to share or protect each document, and despite being a new phenomenon there are already a few interesting players on the market. All of these online services automatically integrate many additional features useful for bloggers. They offer spell-checking, document sharing for review, real-time collaboration, history of changes, and direct publishing to your blog. And they are all free of charge to use! The best ones are overviewed at About.com.

My personal favorite is Writely, which really stands out from the competition. The interface is slick and simple to use. There are all the features that you expect and more. It includes comments, handy keyboard shortcuts for accessing common functions, and importing of common file formats. Technology like this really excites me! Writely was acquired a few months ago by Google, and has temporarily disabled users registration, but there is a backdoor.

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