yARN: Google doctors Docs - but is it better?

yARN: Google doctors Docs - but is it better?

Google beefing up the presentations side of Google Docs isn’t the slickest part of the package


So Google is beefing up the presentations side of Google Docs. I’d forgive you for responding “not before time” as it isn’t the slickest part of the package.

Transitions and animations are always handy, as long as you don't overdo them. And the changes of themes and improvements to the shapes and drawing tools all help with the generation of better looking slides, though I wouldn't say that 16 themes rather than 15 is a big improvement, and I’m not sure that the new selection is really that much better. Ignoring the issue of too many words on a slide, it seems to me that design is the area most people need the most help with - that’s in terms of the overall look as well as individual graphic elements. Still, the ability to drag and drop graphics from another browser window onto a slide is a convenience.

On the subject of design, the presentations module takes on a fresher look with a white (instead of blue) menu bar, slightly larger toolbar icons, and the elimination of the Google Docs logo.

There are probably three major reasons for using Google Docs. The first is that it is free/cheap, though that’s probably not really a key consideration as the same can be said for open-source Office suites such as LibreOffice.

The second is that it minimises the administrative load as there’s no installation or patching involved - the classic argument in favour of cloud applications.

And the third is one that Google’s stressing: collaboration. I’m not totally convinced that “the best presentations are made together” [Google’s emphasis], but I concede that may be true in situations where the job is inherently collaborative, such as a team of students working on a presentation of a joint project.

Still, collaboration doesn’t have to happen in real-time. Even if several people have a stake in the presentation, it may be better to remember that ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ and let the most able person do most of the work on the deck with the rest providing the their parts of the information and reviewing the (nearly) finished job.

For me, there are two main problems with Google presentations. The first is that there's no provision for offline access as there is for spreadsheets and word-processed documents. When I'm giving a presentation, I like to be as self-contained as possible, and that means carrying the deck on my own computer and on a backup device.

The other is that even when using Chrome in Presentation Mode, you don't get a completely clean slide. For some reason there's a horizontal scroll bar at the foot of the screen, and I'd prefer it if the control widget appeared less aggressively and more discretely.

Both of these can be overcome by downloading the presentation as a PowerPoint (.pptx) file and use that in a compatible program, but in that case, why not do all the work in PowerPoint, Keynote, LibreOffice or whatever?

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Tags Google DocspowerpointMicrosoft Office Web AppsLibreOffice


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