We’ve been using Google Docs together with Chat and Mail for a while now and it’s useful enough (we’re still using it which must count for something). But it’s not perfect. Here’s my list of pros and cons (which will change over time, I’m sure)
On the Upside for Google Docs
- It’s very easy and intuitive to use, especially if you already know G-Mail
- The folders are relational, so you can dump the same document in many places and it’s always the same copy. It just has a virtual link.
- There’s a good little chat client and you can record all the conversations. So we can have a virtual text meeting and keep notes.
- Nearly real time online collaboration on documents is possible – and with it comes no need for bothersome check in and check out.
On the Downside for Google Docs
- There are security issues for us in the UK. Since Google Docs is in sunny California, we are effectively exporting our data out of the country each time we use it (and that includes Google Mail). Any sensitive data has to be registered with the COI and it’s a bother. A no-no for many health sector applications. They should open a branch office of the GooglePlex in the UK somewhere and we’d be sorted.
- You can’t load pictures into the folders. Only pictures within documents. Since we work with images a lot, it’s a real bother.
- It messes up pretty basic formatting if you upload existing documents. The best way to use it is to originate the docs themselves within Google Docs
The most difficult part here is to do with export of health data to the US. We’ll be returning to this issue in a future post.