More and more applications are being ported for use on the web instead of on the desktop. There is (and will be some cross platform code) to have web applications integrate well with their desktop counterparts, and perhaps this new service from Adobe will someday reach that goal with an Adobe AIR version of Buzzword. For now, Buzzword is strictly web based, and extremely easy to use. Here are some thoughts on Buzzword.
Buzzword User Interface
The left menu bar will reflect the current function. The right menu bar contains the functions you can use. If the “F” for font is selected, it will be pushed over to the left and all available font options will be displayed in the menu bar.
The right menu bar pushes items out of your way until you are ready to use them. The tools include “Paragraph”, “List/Bullets”, “Images”, “Tables”, “Comments”, and “Docs”. The user interface will animate the clicking of the menu items by showing you a sliding motion.
You will always know what functions you can use by the menu bar items that are visible. There isn’t anything complicated or “advanced” about the Buzzword, so it is an ideal word processor for getting writing done without distractions. If you have ever used a word processor, Buzzword will be extremely easy to navigate. And if you haven’t used one before, Buzzword will be simple to learn.
Since Buzzword is an online service, the documents you create can be stored on the Buzzword site so you don’t have to worry about carrying them with you on a hard drive, or misplacing or losing your documents. Save documents in MS Word format (which will save to your hard drive) or the default Buzzword format (saves on Adobe’s servers). The “Docs” menu of Buzzword makes finding your saved Buzzword formatted documents fairly simple. You can search alphabetically, search by author, date viewed, or date changed.
Other features of Buzzword include:
- Customizable lists and bullets (like this one)
- Image support
- with easy sizing and positioning with simple word wrapping and justification
- Easy table insertion and manipulation
- The ability to add comments to any section of the document
- Spell checking and red underline flagging
- Document sharing with others (they will require a free account as well)
- A history tool bar so you can quickly go back to a previous edit (see below)
Other Online Word Processors
Of course, Buzzword isn’t the only online word processor available and is by no means perfect (see the “What’s Missing?” section). I have previously used Zoho Writer, Google Docs, and DarkCopy too (Google and Zoho offer similar functionality while DarkCopy is considered a simple text editor). You should definitely check them out for yourselves if you are interested.
- The spell checker seemed to flag words like “blog” and “online” as misspelled (you can elect to add them to the “OK” list) and didn’t flag misspelled words like “formated”.
- On slower computers, the response time was a little slow. Although it is web based, the Flash seems to use up a lot of compute power. Firefox CPU usage jumps up significantly when typing or making edits.
- The requirement that other register before they can view documents that you have shared should be removed for just Read Level access. Currently you cannot embed a link to the document on your web site and have people easily view it.
- The right click actions you are used to (cut, paste, copy) are not available. You will need to use keyboard shortcuts (Ctrl-X, Ctrl-V, etc…).
- A “Post to Blog” button would be great too.
What other online word processing tools have I missed that you like?