Google’s office offering gets all grown up

googledoctestGoogle’s word processing and spreadsheet offerings have turned out to be ugly ducklings – they started out as stunted cousins to the full-featured Microsoft and Apple offerings but have matured into amazing tools.

I must admit to completely under-rating Google Docs and Sheets until the last few weeks. I use them all the time but whenever I needed something beyond the extremely basic I would turn to Microsoft Office. It turns out though, that without my really noticing, Google has been piling features into their offerings and I’m struggling now to find anything I would reasonably want that’s missing. That’s not to say that everything is there that’s in Office, but then Office is loaded with features that I don’t even come close to using.

Google Docs has increasingly sophisticated layout options, such as the ability to dynamically place pictures. Formatting is all there and I can insert page numbers and tables of contents.  Tables are there as is line spacing, font options, and much more. In addition you get the sharing and team editing that come with a cloud-based system. Sheets has been even more of a surprise to me with its capacity to deal with every formula I could reasonably come up with – vlookup for example. I’m not sure it would have everything that a heavy-duty spreadsheet user, such as an accountant, might want but for everyone up to that point Sheets is now an entirely viable alternative to Excel, and leaves Apple’s awful offering for dead.

Now this spreadsheet revelation came about because I was helping my son with his Young ICT Explorers project. He’s collecting data from a sensor attached to an Ardiuno and sending it to a Google spreadsheet where it gets manipulated. But the really cool thing about using Google spreadsheets is that you can then take some or all of the information from the sheet and embed it into a web page. That allows for some pretty clever results with minimal programming.

So I’m now considering whether I need Microsoft Office at all. I’m struggling to think of a scenario where I would turn to it in preference to the Google Drive range, especially given that Google doesn’t cost me anything beyond the mild discomfort of letting Google rifle its fingers through my documents in search of advertising tags.

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