What the hell is Writely anyway?

Want to try Google’s latest assault on the desktop before it even becomes Google-ized?

Well, I’m doing it right now — Writely, the technology that Google recently bought, brings Microsoft Word-like text editing to the browser, with a toolbar surprisingly like Word’s, document length of up to 500k, and the ability to take what you write here and open it to collaboration with others. No extra software required. And you can create and modify documents from anywhere with Web access and with a ton of browsers, old and new. It even supports Netscape 4 and IE 5, both of which I use on This Old Mac .

Did I mention that it’s wicked fast? Hell, give me a ton of disk space on some Google server somewhere, and I’d pay real money for such a service, as will, I suspect, businesses large and small. Imagine never having to update or maintain an application, nor a server. That’s where Google is headed — and the world wil march with it, I expect.

There’s even a Print button, which I assume takes your document and prints it out on your local printer. Have to try that one.

You can also bring in documents from various formats (I’m a bit shaky on which ones besides Word and regular text at this point) and take your Writerly documents and directly publish them to your blog. I’m not quite sure why you’d want to do the latter, but it can be done, and if there’s a compelling reason to do it, I’ll sure tell you.

Until now, I’ve used the little-heard-of Pote.com to write text files online — and Writely sure looks better, as it has actual formatting, like bold, italic, underline and even did the links you see above.

I tried to start a Writely account a month or so ago, in the wake of the Google announcement, but they were closed to new users. No longer.

Update: It took a couple of tries but I did manage to publish this entry to 2,000 Days in the Valley from here. It was pretty easy to set up (about 80 percent intuitive) and of course works on Blogger because both Writely and Blogger are owned by Google. All went well except that the entry had no title — I thought it would pick up the document title from Writely, but it didn’t, and I finally entered it manually through Blogger Dashboard.