Over the last year or so, I’ve been experimenting with a number of online office tools. I tend to use Google Docs the most, not that I particularly think that it’s the best, more that others I know use it, and they want to share things. It’s also just introduced a search feature, which could be useful; as I’m getting an increasing number of docs in there.

This morning’s BBC Click mentioned BuzzWord – so I’ve checked that out. I like what I’ve seen so far. It’s Flash based, (others often seem to be ajax based). One initial drawback is that it’s US based, so @ and ” swap places, the £ gives a # … and so on. Other than that, it seems to be quite flexible; it’s got a good clear commenting feature – much more like Word’s than I’ve seen in other tools. It allows saving in .doc, .rtf and Word 2003 XML, though not Word 2007 specific formats, and will allow the import of files in those formats. Sharing seems to be fairly straight forward, though I’ve not yet tried it for real. The reviewer mentioned that it didn’t seem to be possible to cut and paste from other documents. It’s rather odd. This morning, I was able to cut and paste from a web page; this afternoon, it won’t let me cut and paste either from a word doc, or a web page. It’s a shame, because I think that it’s got a lot of power otherwise. However, it is still in beta, and one I think worth keeping abreast of. (And it looks cool!)

I’m quite a fan of Zoho; which I’ve found to have an impressive range of file types. (Word Processing, Spreadsheet, presentation, graphics, wiki, project planning etc. ) Some of my students have complained that it can be quite slow, though I’ve not found that when I’ve been using it.

Others I’ve played with in the past include ThinkFree, (though both this time, and the last time I have tried to use it, it’s let me login, but then gives me a permission denied error if I try to do see “My Office”) and AjaxWrite. I’ve vague memories of some others, but can’t remember what they were called. That, I suspect, indicates that they weren’t that good, or at least, they didn’t do anything that others I was playing with at the time, didn’t do.

Related, but not quite the same, I’ve recently been reminded of Scribd – as a way of sharing documents – much as slideshare does, but rather more formats and ways of viewing.

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