How to Enhance Your Productivity With Docs.com

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t used Microsoft Office on my desktop in the past year and half. That’s an interesting nugget of information considering the fact that I write for a living and write about 25,000 words a month. So where does all of this writing happen? On a moleskin notebook? No, Google Docs.

Office is Microsoft’s cash cow, a vertical that has seen no real competition for decades. Thanks to Google, your documents have been liberated from the desktop prison and made available anywhere there’s an internet connection. Did I forget to mention the fact that you can edit a document with multiple people from across the globe in real time? Well, I just did.

The slow but steady exodus of its userbase has made Microsoft rethink its strategy and resulted in the launch of Docs.com. After the break let we’ll take a look at how Microsoft Office in the cloud can enhance your productivity.

Overview

Overview

Overview

Docs.com is the online version of famous desktop productivity suite Microsoft Office and the web app hosts Word, Excel and PowerPoint for all your document processing, spreadsheets & presentation needs. To be more precise, Docs.com is based on the most recent version of MS Office 2010.

Sign Up – The Facebook Connection

It’s very interesting that the masthead states the web is “Docs for Facebook” instead of “Microsoft Office Online” or “Microsoft Windows Office Live” or something similar. That’s because the only way to get access to the app is by connecting with your existing Facebook account. Docs.com is free of cost for everyone.

Getting Started

To get started, select the document type you are planning create by selecting the very familiar Office icons. A pop-up will prompt you to enter your Facebook login information. While the integration doesn’t happen via Facebook Connect and you will need to enter your login credentials, all of this happens via SSL at Facebook and not at Docs.com.

Getting Started

Getting Started

Immediately after signing up, you are taken the app you selected (in my case, MS Word). The interface looks strikingly similar to the ribbon interface introduced in Office 2007. This being a web app, it’s a bit a bit light on features compared to its desktop counterpart and hence is less cluttered.

Editing a Word Document

Creating a Word Document

Creating a Word Document

Just start typing away as you usually do in MS Word and for the most part you will find all of the frequently used formatting and editing features here too. Paragraphs and headings work in a single click as usual. You may want to double check your spelling as the built in spell check didn’t let me know that  I misspelt “just” at the end of the second paragraph.

Editing a Word Document

Editing a Word Document

You can add bullets & numbering just fine and there are multiple types available for each one too. As you can see I have changed the indent of a paragraph and features like subscript & superscript.

Bullets, Numbering & Indentations

Bullets, Numbering & Indentations

Inserting tables, links and images can be done from the Insert section of the app. One interesting feature worth mentioning is clip art. In the pre-broadband era, Office clip art images used to fulfill all the stock image needs of a document. Docs.com allows you to search for a particular keyword and images will show up for you to choose from. Yes, there are tons of free stock destinations, but searching for one without leaving the app is downright awesome!

Inserting Clip Art

Inserting Clip Art

You can toggle between document editing and reading modes from the View sections. Once you have created the document, save the document and attach a name to it by clicking on Untitled on the top right corner of the page.

Creating a Spreadsheet

Editing a Spreadsheet

Editing a Spreadsheet

Creating a spreadsheet works the same way—clicking the Excel icon. You can work on basic operations but cannot crunch any numbers since formulae are not supported. Formula is a very basic, yet most used, feature of a spreadsheet application and its absence is very disheartening. Another glaring omission is charts. Google Docs has had both these features for a long time now and Microsoft has clearly dropped the ball with this oft used app.

Creating a PowerPoint Slide

Creating a PowerPoint Slide

Creating a PowerPoint Slide

With a number of slide layouts, PowerPoint is better than Excel at Docs.com. Once you select the layouts, you can add the title, images and content without any visible lag. However, it’s to be noted that the slides cannot have custom backgrounds and it’s basically a white canvas all the way.

Slide Designs

Slide Designs

Collaboration

Sharing Options

Sharing Options

You can invite your peers to view or edit the documents with you from the right column of any app. First, ensure the role of the user is correctly selected (editor vs viewer) and you can select them from the Facebook friends list. Once enabled, you can collaborate with friends in real time. You have full control over viewer access to the document and can allow or disallow them to download the document or use it as a template. If you are planning to add a lot of people from your Facebook contact list every time you create or edit document, create a Facebook group and then sharing is just one click away!

Final Thoughts

Docs.com is tightly integrated with Facebook and this seamless integration means that the service is all about sharing your documents socially. While the social touch is pretty rad, collaborating only with my Facebook friends is very limiting. There is no Google Docs like feature of inviting friends by emailing them an invitation. It’s intriguing as to why even Hotmail or Windows Live email IDs are not supported at login or for collaborating on documents.

Another major issue of concern is how weak Docs.com is when compared feature by feature with Google Docs. It is a real shame that the pioneers of Office productivity tools have deliberately launched such an under featured app. For those interested, my advice would be to stick with or migrate to Google Docs, as Docs.com is still hundreds of miles away from being taken seriously.

Share Your Thoughts!

What do you think of Docs.com? Is there a chance they can trounce Google Docs? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section. Thanks!


Summary

Docs.com is the online version of famous desktop productivity suite Microsoft Office and the web app hosts Word, Excel and PowerPoint for all your document processing, spreadsheets & presentation needs.

7