Tagged With online documents

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Zoho, the ever-improving online editing suite, is rolling out Zoho Writer 2.0, comprising of a serious overhaul of the menu and writing interface and features pulled from user requests. Along with the new drop-down menus pictured above, the ubiquitous Zoho sidebar now sports a search feature, multiple document selections by holding Control and clicking, and a few other improvements. The documents themselves get auto-insertion of header and footer fields, word and character counts in the status bar. All in all, Zoho Writer now has a striking resemblance to your average word processor, and a lot of the buttons and options explain themselves a bit better.

Predicting the future is near impossible -- but that doesn‘t stop us all from having a red hot go. Human beings have been predicting the future since the beginning of history and the results range from the hilarious to the downright uncanny.

One thing all future predictions have in common: they‘re rooted in our current understanding of how the world works. It‘s difficult to escape that mindset. We have no idea how technology will evolve, so our ideas are connected to the technology of today.

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LiveDrive, not to be confused with Windows Live Skydrive, is a free and unlimited online storage service. LiveDrive users can upload an unlimited number of files, and while the size limit per file isn't explicitly stated anywhere on the site I had no trouble uploading multi-GB files. The upload speed maxed out the available upload bandwidth I had, someone with a much faster pipe will have to weigh in on what the upload ceiling is. Users running Windows XP/Vista machines are able to download a stand alone client which adds a virtual drive to their computer assigned to the letter L. According to the site a client for Mac users is in the works. During the sign up process users are able to select a custom domain, http://someusername.livedrive.com, for accessing their files and sharing them. While the service is in beta, accounts are free.

LiveDrive

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Windows/Mac/Linux (Firefox): Open IT Online, a Firefox extension that adds online editing/viewing options for all sorts of files you click on, has updated to include online image editors and an easier setup screen. Since we last looked at it, the add-on has added Picnik and Pixlr to its options for opening images (and background images), and added a simple screen for choosing mainly-used services, to avoid having to individually set each file type. Google Apps users can also differentiate their hosted services from standard Google Docs accounts. Open IT Online is a free add-on, works wherever Firefox does.

Open IT Online

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Windows Live, intended to be a landing page for social activity and Microsoft's cloud-connected apps, is rolling out a host of redesigns and upgrades, but none so exciting (to our eyes, anyways) as the anticipated jump of the SkyDrive online storage service to 25GB capacity. As the Digital Inspiration blog points out, SkyDrive seems to be a central part of the Redmond giant's web ambitions, so it's not likely to go away or shrink. Aside from the raw upload/download capabilities, having a SkyDrive account gives you a few other cool abilities, which we'll detail below.

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Windows only: Free utility Gladinet Cloud Desktop removes the web interfaces from Google Docs, Picasa Web Albums, Windows Live SkyDrive and Amazon S3 Storage, mounting them instead as folders you can add, remove, or open documents from. Gladinet hides most of the back-end technology that pulls it off, asking you only for a username and password. Once mounted, it's easy to, say, open a Google Docs file in your local copy of Microsoft Word, or directly add pictures to folders in your Picasa or SkyDrive accounts. Read on for a look at how Gladinet works, along with a 10-minute video that explains more of its features.

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Etherpad, a collaborative-minded text editor forged by a group of ex-Google employees, focuses on making documents live and easy to collaborate on. That means that, at this point, the interface is pretty much straight text on numbered lines, but two or more people can work on a document in real time using a single URL to share, with different colours highlighting their work, a chat function for explanation, and revision-minded saving. For JavaScript coders and teams, there's also a syntax highlighting function, and, well, that's about it. If you, like many Lifehacker readers, dig the advanced but back-to-basics style of Notepad++, Etherpad might be right up your alley. No sign-up required.

Etherpad

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Maybe you like the convenience and portability of Google Docs, Zoho, or any of the myriad other online office suites and scheduling applications out there, but you're not crazy about posting your documents and organizational data to Google or anyone who can guess your password. OpenGoo, a free office package that's easy to install on nearly any modern web space, gives you go-anywhere access to your own documents, calendar, contacts, tasks, and even email. We took OpenGoo through a test installation and grabbed a few screens to show off the suite's slick interface and features, so read on to see how you can test out your own web-as-desktop experience without pledging allegiance to any one web firm.

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Free online storage and sharing site Drop.io was already a pretty streamlined service—upload a file, copy the "drop" address, then share it with anyone you wanted to have access to your files of up to 100MB. Since opening up an API, though, the service has spawned an even more streamlined service, uSend.io. Click to choose a file, enter emails separated by commas, and your recipients get a link to your file (also with a 100MB limit). No ads on the download page, no wait times, just shared files. For another intriguing remix of Drop.io's service, check out Collab.io, which sets up a conference call phone number and meeting time with a document collaboration space.

uSend.io

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The beta bandages are off, and the full public version of online presentation creation and management software Sliderocket looks pretty good. The PowerPoint competitor (in the cloud) will let you upload and import PPT files, Flash animations, spreadsheet data for charts as well as images, audio and video assets — then share them amongst coworkers. The Flash-based webapp is pretty slick, and you can add Flickr and YouTube content as well as purchase stock art from a Fotolia and PresentationPro. You can deliver your presentation online or download a standalone player. Sliderocket is free for a single user, with 30-day tryouts for potential paying customers. So for you bullet-slingers out there, are you ready to give up your desktop software for this presumptive online replacement?

Sliderocket

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Google Operating System reports that Google Docs has been upgraded to allow footnotes (an essential component for any students or academics out there), but that the implementation has some serious limitations. Because Google Docs doesn't support pagination, you can't tell how your footnotes will appear until you print them, and importing into a standalone word processor creates endnotes (rather than on-page footnotes). With luck, the next implementation might be better -- in the meantime, old-fashioned, non-cloud, standalone word processors like Microsoft Word and OpenOffice.org Documents still look like the best formatting bet.

Footnotes in Google Docs

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Whether you're a Google Docs user or you're a little unsure about what the online suite can really do, Digital Inspiration's 15-point guide, "How to Do Stuff with Google Docs," explains how to convert, import, sync, translate, and tweak your documents in myriad ways. Makes for a good link-mail if you're trying to get friends on the cloud-based bandwagon.

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Robust online office suite Zoho has added a long-overdue file management and landing page for users, making it easier to view and edit word documents, spreadsheets, and slideshows without having to flip between browser tabs. Zoho Docs lets you preview documents in tabs within the page, manage the sharing and edit rights of any file with individuals or groups, and even chat with other people editing your Zoho stuff online. The drag-and-drop-interface, collapsible folders, and even blue and white interface might seem a little familiar to users of a certain other online suite, but it's one of the few areas in which Zoho truly needed to play catch-up. Embedded below is a video demonstrating some of Zoho Docs' offerings.

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Google Documents has added a fullscreen editing mode to the "View" menu on individual documents, a convenience previously available only through a Greasemonkey script. Combined with Firefox 3's serious fullscreen capabilities and GDocs' fixed-width page view, it lets you turn the online office suite into a no-distraction writing environment—provided you can resist popping open another tab with Ctrl+T. It's worth noting that Zoho Writer has a similar "Maximize editor" function, but it's not as severe as Google Docs' nothing-but-white implementation.

Google Docs in Full Screen

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Windows/Mac/Linux (Firefox): Open It Online, a free Firefox extension, cuts out all the middle steps between finding a document in a Google search, in your web mail, or anywhere else online, and getting it open in a web-based office/editing suite. In other words, it adds an option to your Firefox "Open With" dialog to let you open Word documents, spreadsheets, PDFs, and more file types in Google Docs, the Zoho suite, ThinkFree Viewer, and other locations. You can pre-set defaults for every file type, and that's just about it—nice and convenient for fans of online editing. Open It Online is a free download, works wherever Firefox 2 or 3 does.

Open It Online

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Google Documents has seen a good deal of productive-minded change over the last few days, quietly rolling out new interface features and re-designs. The most noticeable is a new Word-like menu bar, which takes up a little space at the top of the browser. Secondly, coloured folders add a corner-of-eye method for separating documents into work flow states or other systems. Finally, document creators can now re-assign and change document permissions back and forth, giving collaborators read, write and ownership abilities. Zoho users, how is Google's latest set of changes starting to look, put up against its (admittedly) more feature-rich competitor? Let's hear it in the comments.

New Toolbar and Menus

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When you're at a computer that's missing a vital file or application, like an office workstation that's locked down, a friend's system or coffee shop computer, you can still get to a desktop that contains your essentials—on the web. A "webtop" is a virtual desktop that you access using only a browser, and it can include much of the stuff you'd expect on a local computer desktop: like file storage and management, a calendar, RSS reader, email client, and photo viewer. While there are several web desktops available these days, the free and open source EyeOS application is the most accessible, useful, and promising one out there. Follow along to see what a web-based desktop looks like, and how it can help you get things done when you're locked down or out of pocket.

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Zoho Writer, part of one of Lifehacker's favorite (and underhyped) webapps, has added a bunch of new features, and many of them add to the online office app's appeal to even grizzled Microsoft Office veterans. Most significantly, Zoho now exports to the Office 2007 .docx format, and its creators promise import is coming soon. Also, when exporting to Word formats, headnotes, footnotes, headers and footers will be retained with proper formatting. FInally, a 10-language thesaurus is available for right-click use, and users can create groups of users to share documents with, rather than entering individual email addresses each time. Pretty nifty stuff, and another good reason to check out Google Docs' main competitor.

Zoho Writer Update: DocX Support, Thesaurus, Group Sharing & More

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PDFs tend to be the preferred format of HR managers and others who you have to fill out forms for, leaving you to print, write out, and mail or fax the paper document back to them. Skip all that unnecessary writing and printing with PDFescape, a free web app that lets you fill in PDF forms, add custom text and re-save them to your own computer. The site makes it clear that PDFescape isn't intended as a full-fledged PDF editor, but it does provide a pretty extensive toolkit for modifying other people's documents. In addition to text, you can throw in custom images, shapes, and links, and you can store the finished product on your own computer or keep it on PDFescape's server. Those basic features are free, but it seems as though PDFescape adds a logo mark to any documents you export from the site, which can be removed by purchasing "premium credits." Either way, it's significantly less expensive than buying a $300 Adobe suite.

PDFescape