I don’t use Google Apps much to process documents or data for two reasons: 1) If it is not a text file on my hard drive, I am suspicious of it and 2) I spend enough time with no internet access (not much, but easily 5% of my on line time) that I don’t want to rely on that. But I do like the idea of having all my stuff readily available and the tools always hand. And I have that. I just got it a different way than by using Google Apps.
But depending on the semester, over the last couple of years, Julia has been using Google Apps more or less, depending on the paranoia or luddite level of her immediate school environment. Some teachers refuse to let students use Google Apps, and it is interesting to see how kids use these tools anyway and try to “get away with it.” I suspect she’ll be using them more and more in the future.
So it is good news that today Google rolled out off-line Google Appsk in a preliminary way, with plans to do more:
When we announced Chromebooks at Google I/O 2011, we talked about bringing offline access to our web apps, and now we’re taking our first steps in that direction. Gmail offline will be available today, and offline for Google Calendar and Google Docs will be rolling out over the next week, starting today.
Since I tossed Firefox off my computers a few weeks ago and replaced it with Chrome, it does not matter to me that this is a chrome app, but I suppose that is a bit annoying to those who don’t use the browser. On the other and, if you think of Chrome with off line gmail as an app (your email app!) that isn’t so bad.
I should mention that the reason I dropped Firefox is that I write, and I write for and on the web, and I resent having to not use a browser interface, ever, to do any of that writing because crashes are so common that work is often lost. Now, as I said earlier, if it is not a text file on my hard drive, I’m suspicious of it, so the truth is that I was not really writing on the browser … I write everything in emacs and copy/paste. But even though I say I do that, I don’t really. Who writes Google+ and Facebook updates and comments in a separate editor? Between Facebook’s quirks and Firefox’s instability (with zero add-ins I quickly add) it was absurd that after all these years of software and hardware development that a basic tool should be essentially broken out of the box.
Other than a 48 hour period between system updates when Chrome got unstable for me last week, that hasn’t happened. in this browser. But I digress.
Google Calendar and Google Docs let you seamlessly transition between on- and offline modes. When you’re offline in Google Calendar, you can view events from your calendars and RSVP to appointments. With Google Docs you can view documents and spreadsheets when you don’t have a connection. Offline editing isn’t ready yet, but we know it’s important to many of you, and we’re working hard to make it a reality.
Seeing the docs and not being able to edit them might be worse than not seeing them. I’d be tempted to copy and paste into an editor, thus creating uncontrolled version proliferation.
Anyway, to get this working for you, click the gear icon (you know about the gear icon, right)? Then just mess around and it will work.