The recently released WordPress add-on for Google Docs turns out to be rather useful, even without the need to collaborate
I have somewhat a history of fiddling way too much with my writing setup, and as such have been dabbling with way too many tools, i.e. text editors. In the recent past it happened that I slowly but steadily started to switch over to WYSIWYG tools for writing and blogging, here most notably the new WordPress editor or the Press-This bookmarklet.
Both are fine tools (especially after the last update), but for longer posts, those which need a lot more work and/or offline-access, I need a different setup. For these I usually pulled out a text-editor like Ulysses. Even though I enjoy working in that (or similar) app, the lack of cross-platform availability eventually always made me stop using it. I prefer to have my stuff as easily and widely available as possible I guess.
The other week WordPress has released a Google Docs add-on, enabling a publish-to a Jetpack-enabled WordPress blog, which turned out as a great solution for me.
The add-on had come as a bit of a surprise to me, but the more I thought about it and the more I started to use it, the more useful it became and it completely ended my search for a cross-platform blogging/writing tool. I already spend some time writing in Google Docs and it had long been a trusted and cross-platform application which I am fairly familiar with.
First of all, Google Docs is available everywhere where I am working: via the web on every desktop that I work on, Android and iOS. Also, and this is equally important to me, it is identical, or at least almost, on all these platforms. No need to figure out how to do things. Also it has good export features ranging from plain-text, over to Word documents and PDF.
It feels the same, or at least, similar enough on all platforms.
Obviously the Post-To-Wordpress add-on is the key piece here, but there are few other goodies, i.e. integrations to consider when using Google Doc.
Next: Google Keep
Keep has been living the life of an underdog on my devices. I use it occasionally and always found it’s clipping tool and Chrome integration in a few ways better than other notetaking solutions. For example clipping a selection, also saves the originating link, which some apps seem to fail.
Google recently introduced Keep integration into the Google Docs, which enables access to notes in Keep right in a sidebar within the document. This is obviously useful. I can quickly drag and drop snippets of text or images right into the document, or use it to make notes for future reference.
Keep is also neat, because I get frequently ideas when I am out and about and can easily dictate a note, from my phone or, Dick Tracy style, from my watch and then later easily drop them into the post.
The Explore sidebar
Talking about sidebars: Google Docs also features the Explore sidebar both on web/desktop (you can see this in action in this Nat and Lo video). Looking for a link, or an article to reference? The explore sidebar is there to help, easily allowing to search the web or even Google Drive.
Okay, here I have to admit that I haven’t played around with this, but there could be some potential here.
Since Google Docs obviously live in the browser, it is it very easy to link straight to the document/post in Todoist for easier retrieval and obvious task management. One can link directly to it via the Todoist Chrome extension or as an attachment. Linking directly to the post naturally also works in WordPress’s own editor.
Tools in the editor:
By it’s nature Google Docs editor is a full featured word editor and contains many useful tools, such as a document outline, which I like to use for navigating longer documents. Naturally also the editor is full of useful keyboard shortcuts, and in full-screen mode is nice and minimal.
Opposed to the WordPress editor Google Docs is available offline as well, making it available in those moments I usually would have switched to a text-editor.
This is an obvious advantage of course as Google Docs is the master of collaboration. For my purposes this is helpful, even though I don’t collaborate a lot, but rather use the comments to make comments for future reference, say if I am not happy with one phrase, or need to look something up.
As you can see, there are many reasons why using Google Docs as a post editor actually makes sense, even if one doesn’t needs the most obvious reason, collaboration. I can easily see myself sticking to this for articles, that need more attention and are written over a longer period of time.
And here’s one a little tidbit from the past for those who remember: before what we now know as Google Docs was released, it was an online editor called Writely and from there, one could also publish straight to WordPress. But that is many years ago.