I'm a thoroughly modern writer. I don't believe I've ever written anything of substance on a typewriter. I was a Wordperfect
user for as long as it was plausible, finally giving up in 2001 when no one in the world could access my documents with my formatting intact. Having been so finely attuned to Wordperfect's idiosyncrasies, I never really made the transition to Microsoft Word. I used it, but I never really felt at home with it. A little over a year ago, though, I got an invite to use Writely, an online word processor. I'd been dabbling with online word processors, but, until Writely, I had not encountered an online solution that mixed usefulness with speed. Google soon acquired Writely, and Writely became Google Docs.
I like Google Docs. Some of the features that have made it a must-use application for me are its integration with GMail, the ability to share and collaborate on documents (Gmail contact-integration is especially useful here), the power to export to PDF, and finally its capacity for publishing directly to popular blogging platforms. Google Docs is much more powerful than you'd imagine an online word processor to be. Despite this, I still found myself wanting more. For instance, I've felt that Writely has had more in common with powerful text editors than word processors. I don't feel you have as much power over formatting with Docs as you do with regular word processors. I had found an online word processor that addressed those concerns, but I'd been hesitant to commit to it. Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce Zoho Writer
Zoho Writer is part of a much larger collection of online tools
. The fine folks at Zoho have quietly become the best office suite on the web. For now, we're just addressing Zoho Writer. One thing that kept me from finally going for Zoho Writer was that I didn't want to lose the collaborative grace found in Google Docs. Anyone using Google's products has a Google Docs and Spreadsheets account and the potential to become a collaborative partner on a document. Zoho addressed that concern by creating a Facebook widget that allows you to see and edit your Zoho documents from Facebook, and any facebook user can add the widget and become a collaborative partner. Another thing I liked about Google Docs was the ability to open any Word doc directly from Gmail. Zoho has added a Firefox and IE plugin that allows you to use Zoho to open any document. Taking things a step further, they have a desktop widget that allows you to upload your files from your computer to Zoho.
Whether for its ease of use, flexibility, or collaborative prowess, I would recommend this program to anyone. For those who haven't yet started using online word processors, people still double clicking that old Microsoft Word icon, spending a few days with Zoho will make you wonder why you hadn't left behind that clunky old dinosaur long ago.