Writer — no-hassle word processor in the cloud

JJFFJJ_writer_logoWith Writer it’s 1992 all over again!

This is one of those little oddball tools that is both retro and ahead of its time.

If you are of a certain age, you remember DOS computers with monochrome monitors, first green and then amber, which, I believe, were one of the purest writing tools ever, even better than typewriters.

 Big Huge Labs provides a free and very simple on-line text editor called Writer which reminds me of the DOS days.

Retro but also ahead of its time: Writer launched in the “cloud” back in about 2007 when Google Apps was still clunky and slow. But, Writer is no GoogleDrive — which can be a good thing.  (Read my sort rant on privacy and the cloud.)

JJFFJJWriterIn Writer it is possible to do basic formatting (italics, bold, etc.) but Writer really shines for just writing. Despite its sparse formatting features, it offers several useful ways to export your document including text, PDF, print and Word. (Sadly, no OpenDocument format) You can also publish your writing directly to a blog.

There is no need to register but, if you do, your document are saved. Writer offers a paid option that is integrated with Google Docs and Dropbox. Unfortunately, Writer does not offer collaborative tools. BigHugeLabs offers special services to schools.

Writer could be a great alternative to Goodle Docs if the main point is to write. I have found, with Google Docs or MS Word, students tend to fuss for too long before they get down to writing. I haven’t tried it in a classroom but I think Writer would require less of a “fuss phase.”

I still think MoPad is probably better for classroom writing because of its collaborative features. But, if the point is to just write, Writer does that very well.

Tool: Writer (atBigHugeLabs)
Description: simple “cloud” word processor
License: OpenEthos
Alternatives: MoPad, GoogleDocs, many others.
Rating: very useful

Workspaces – Adobe’s Office Suite

Workspaces is ending.

NoLongerSupportedIt always makes me sad when a potentially good product fails. I am a fan of Google Docs but I don’t like monopilies, either. I can’t think of any reason why Adobe shouldn’t be able to make an on-line office suite every bit as good as Google.

Adobe’s free Workspaces is a surprisingly efficient way to create and share documents.

It’s Adobe’s “office suite” but not nearly as full as Google Drive.  It has the three main services: Buzzword, word processor; Presentation; and Table (spreadsheet).  All services allow for sharing and collaboration with strong PDF support (as expected.) As is usual with Adobe, it’s very polished.

Buzzword is the best reason to consider using Adobe Workspaces.  The export options are a little better than Google Docs with direct export to the ePub format for use on eReaders and tablets.  This valuable feature is still relatively rare. Export options also include OpenDocument, Word and the workhorse RTF format.

While formatting options are simple, Adobe includes some of their beautiful type faces.

To collaborate or export, your students will need to create an account but anyone with a link can view and print your document.  I have not used the collaboration feature but it seems like what Acrobat users would be familiar with.

Best I can tell, this is an orphan of Adobe’s first attempt at cloud services. The legacy Acrobat.com has moved to workspaces.acrobat.com and is basically OpenEthos (except for the unreadable user agreement), Adobe has launched big-time into Adobe Creative Cloud with their full suite of applications available by subscription. I have no idea how long Workspaces will be supported but it’s worth considering.

Tool: Adobe Workspaces
Description: Adobe’s office suite with strong PDF and collaboration features
License: free and (almost) OpenEthos
Alternatives: Google Docs, Zoho
Rating: possibly useful