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No longer a user of Writely

Hold up!

See that little date above?

This post was published years ago.

My opinions have changed over time: I think it's quite fun to keep old posts online so that you can see how that has happened. The downside is that there are posts on this site that express views that I now find offensive, or use language in ways I'd never dream of using it today.

I don't believe in airbrushing history, but I do believe that it's important to acknowledge the obvious: some of what I've written in the past has been crap. Some of it was offensive. Some of it was offensively bad. And there's may be some brass among the muck (you can make up your own mind on that).

Some of what I've presented as my own views has been me—wittingly or unwittingly—posturing without having considered all the facts. In a few years, I'll probably think the same about what I'm writing today, and I'm fine with that. Things change. People grow. Society moves forward.

The internet moves on too, which means there might be broken links or embedded content that fails to load. If you're unlucky, that might mean that this post makes no sense at all.

So please consider yourself duly warned: this post is an historical artefact. It's not an exposition of my current views nor a piece of 'content' than necessarily 'works'.

You may now read on... and in most cases, the post you're about to read is considerably shorter than this warning box, so brace for disappointment.

Up until yesterday, I was a very active user of Writely. This was no particularly for the collaboration aspect of the service, though that was occasionally handy, it was just for making academic notes, and having the convenience of being able to access and edit them, securely, both at home and at uni. I have occasionally been known to blog from the application. It’s a really useful service, and I find myself using Microsoft Word less and less (though Writely’s not nearly advanced enough to replace some of the more technical and involved Word documents).

But this morning, I woke up to find that I was no longer a Writely user. I’m now a user of Google Docs and Spreadsheets. All the same functionality is there (and, crucially, all of my documents), but it doesn’t look nearly so pretty now the Writely green has been removed – and the amount of screen space taken up by the toolbars has increased. There’s frankly odd changes, too, like the spell checker now highlighting incorrectly spelled words rather than using the familiar wiggly red line, and the fact that you’re no longer prompted for a document title when starting a new document. There’s nothing disastrously wrong with the new setup, but the interface feels like a bit of a retrograde step for some reason.

It’s not so bad that I’m switiching away. But it would have been nice if the new interface had been trialled in a Beta of some kind before being forced upon me, maybe offering both interfaces over a transitional period, or even if I’d been given some warning that this was going to happen in the first place. I realise this is Beta software and liable to change or disappear at any time, but I’m a demanding consumer and expect Beta software (especially from Google, where almost everything is Beta) to evolve, not to wake up one morning and find everything completely different.

Anyway, I just thought all of that was worth ranting about.

This post was filed under: News and Comment.

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