Exercise 18 is to “Take a look at some online productivity (word processing, spreadsheet) tools.”  According to this exercise write-up, “The availability and use of online productivity web-based applications (think word processing and spreadsheets) has exploded over the past two years and for good reasons! These powerful applications provide users with the ability to create and share documents over the internet without the need of installed desktop applications. Some experts speculate that this emerging trend may mean the death to Microsoft Office and other software-based productivity tools, while others think web-based applications have their place, but not in the office. But no matter which side of the office suite platform you side with, on this both sides seem to agree; web-based apps have their place.

One large benefit to web-based applications it that they eliminate the need to worry about different software versions or file types as you email documents or move from PC to PC. Another bonus is that they easily accommodate collaboration by allowing multiple users to edit the same file (with versioning) and provide users the ability to easily save and convert documents as multiple file types (including HTML and pdf).”

Since I currently work in Western Massachusetts and live away from my wife during the week, I have found these web-based applications to be very handy.  My wife and I use Google Docs all the time to co-author documents.  In fact, we wrote our Christmas letter last year using Google Docs!  And we use Google Calendar to share our plans/activities during each month so, for instance, my wife will know if I’m attending an event on a particular evening and she will know whether I’m available to Skype that night.