Google Docs – Oh, So Close…

So I thought I’d try Google Docs. Sounds pretty promising – a way to store your documents ‘in the cloud’, so you can get to them from anywhere, edit them using online tools, share them with others and bolt a bit of code onto OpenOffice so you can upload and download documents just like they’re on your local filesystem.

Ideal for me right now. I have this laptop that travels around with me, a desktop upstairs that’s got a big hard drive and I’m going to need to be transporting work backwards and forwards to Manchester, where there’s computing resources I’ll be using too.

A solution that makes my documents available to me anywhere and gives me a decent backup solution seems ideal. And it was going great – the plugin for OpenOffice is kind of clunky and needed me to go and install a few extra packages to get it to install, but apart from that, everything was going better than I expected.

That is, until I uploaded a document with mathematical constructs in. A little background – I’ve been using the Math plugin for OpenOffice to speak maths in documents and I like it a lot, with a markup language that’s pretty straightforward and means you can do maths stuff in the middle of text without needing to take your fingers off the keyboard. The plugin drops an object into your page, which you can later double-click on to edit the construct.

When I upload the page to Google Docs and then download it again to edit, the embedded objects have become images – and therefore can no longer be edited.

That’s a real shame – Google Docs is not a solution for my MSc stuff. Ah well, I have storage at the University.  If you’re not using embedded objects, I reckon it’s a neat solution. If you are – check they come out the same as when they went in.

The views expressed here are the personal views of the author.

Posted on November 9, 2008 at 9:59 pm by Paul Brabban · Permalink
In: MSc · Tagged with: 

3 Responses

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  1. Written by Michael Croucher
    on November 12, 2008 at 11:10 am

    Hi Paul

    Google Docs vs Open Office was slashdotted recently:


  2. Written by Luke Maciak
    on February 24, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Have you looked at You designate a directory anywhere on your system. The little daemon tool you download from them will watch tat directory and will sync any changes to their online repository (you get 2GB for free I believe). It will also watch the repository, and if it sees it changed it will sync them down with your directory.

    What this means is that you save your file on your desktop, and then next time you fire up your laptop, the file magically updates itself. It really worked wonders for me, and I can’t imagine living without it now.

  3. Written by » Using Dropbox for Syncing Computers
    on September 1, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    [...] something to my laptop ready for the following week, so I tried Google Docs and blogged about it here. Pretty good – just a little clunky and not quite up to the job with the maths symbolic stuff [...]

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