Here’s another usage scenario that we think is particularly appropriate for the use of Buzzword. This message mentions a challenge the author has encountered using Google Docs, so offers an opportunity to discuss ways that we think Buzzword is different.
I’m a researcher at [a local university], attached to an internal project to evaluate the burgeoning program in online education. My work largely involves coordinating the efforts of various faculty attached to the project who are scattered throughout the university (in addition to several outside consultants & faculty from other universities).
When I began work with the project, members were emailing crucial documents back and forth as email attachments. This made version control and document storage a nightmare, as you can imagine. I quickly switched the project over to Google Documents, but I’ve grown increasingly frustrated with Google’s service over the past few months. At this point in the project, we’re producing print documents for outside consumption (surveys, preliminary reports and briefs, et cetera), and project members want to review not only the content we’re producing, but the print layout as well.
Google Documents has done alright as a storage medium and solved our problems with version control, but Google documents don’t hold their shape well when they’re printed. It’s very difficult to guarantee the consistency of even simple layouts when they move from the screen to the page, and the charts and diagrams researchers have begun to include in the documents are impossible to place precisely within a Google document.
I hope that Buzzword will solve these persistent problems and allow my group of researchers to collaboratively produce the project’s increasingly polished reports even as a number of our members leave the campus for summer activities.
We often need to describe ourselves in comparison to Google Docs. Our typical response is to let Buzzword itself demonstrate the difference – the visual effect is obvious. Google Docs is a pragmatic approach to raw, mostly text-based content; Buzzword is about rich, polished documents.
We like to say that when you’re writing a document, you’re also reading it at the same time. Buzzword provides you immediate feedback on what your document will look like, and where you are on the page.
The value of the Buzzword experience is more than just visceral. There’s a pragmatic element as well, as the scenario below describes. The author observes that “Google documents don’t hold their shape well when they’re printed.” Others have observed that Buzzword is the web-based word-processor to use when you care what the document looks like.
So, although there are overlaps, we think Buzzword fits a different market need than Google Docs. And the differences will only become more accentuated because while Google Docs is constrained by the limitations of HTML, Buzzword is built on the Flash platform, which enables not only more programmatic control, but a more graphical and media-rich environment.
Google Documents will remain useful as a way to track quick thoughts, or shared notes. It is also useful to quickly view the content of a Word document, when sent as an attachment in Gmail. However, for documents where layout and presentation is important, and for a platform that will continue to get richer and more media capable, we suggest you consider Buzzword.