My dual lives as a working technical writer on federal and commercial projects and writing for technology publications and websites doesn’t put me more at odds with things then with writing about Microsoft Office and Office productivity applications in general. I’ve long had my disagreements with Microsoft Office –especially from the implementation side – and have seen a growing part of my job helping to get teams working productively, developing and managing documents using this ubiquitous Office suite.
In job interviews, I try to frame this growing part of my job as making Microsoft Office work. On the other hand, I’ve been a technical reviewer for some Microsoft Office books (in a past life) and written a bit about Microsoft Office for some publications. The third party publishing industry doesn’t always have a boots on the ground mentality when their readers need it. While I am a bit late writing about it, the launch of the Google Apps Marketplace has the potential to be a real game changer for Office suites and not just Google Apps.
Some notable applications for technical writers include:
SlideRocket. This cloud-based presentation platform with a range of multimedia features and other options should make PowerPoint worry. While I’ve long looked to Zoho for innovation in the web office space and Google to launch new features very methodically, SlideRocket is the best of breed at the current time when it comes to online presentations. I also work in the PowerPoint capital of the world (the Washington, DC area) so I am always open to other presentation tools that I can use to get the message across. OffiSync. I’ve long been an advocate of web office productivity suite like Google Apps complementing Microsoft Office rather than replacing it across the enterprise. OffiSync offers a way to sync Google Apps documents with Microsoft Office. I recently posted about the application and expect it to be eclipsed by Google Cloud Connect.
Zoho Projects. Like I said, I look to Zoho as the real innovators when it comes to web office productivity apps and Zoho Projects is one of the reasons why. Previously, I’ve written about it and have given it high marks for its usability, accessibility, and feature set. I believe in the democratization of project management information and see web-based project management apps like Zoho Project as being more accessible than the venerable Microsoft Project (though Project 2010 is definitely improved usability wise). I like how Zoho Project for Google Apps has a simple wizard driven setup that enables you to pull in users from your Google Apps domain.
Aviary Design Suite. Free image editing tools are good in a pinch for technical writers and Aviary Design Suite enables you to edit and markup images; create vectors; and edit audio. All of these features are available from within Google Apps after you install Aviary from the Google Apps Marketplace.
MockFlow Online Wireframe Tool. Wireframes can be a necessary part of life for technical writers working on design documents and specifications. While Microsoft Visio is a well known standard for creating wireframe diagrams, MockFlow Online Wireframe Tool is a fully featured online tool for creating and editing wireframe diagrams. I find it to be an intuitive tool with a solid selection of components and icons. When I get back on projects requiring me to draw wireframe diagrams, I definitely will look to tools like MockFlow to get the job done.
Zoho Wiki. Zoho took the gutsy move of offering some of their products that compete directly against Google Apps in the Google Apps Marketplace. This Wiki offering doesn’t use the wiki markup language that keeps wikis the domain of the technical staff. Zoho Wiki is the wiki for the common man. With granular controls, widgets, and integration with Google Docs it may even be a better option that Google Sites for organizations who need a wiki for collaboration.
Papyrs Beta. I find the workflow for creating documents in Google Docs to have some interesting angles in it over than the traditional document workflow in Microsoft Office though I wouldn’t consider it an an intranet or portal. With Papyrs Beta, you can add intranet like functionality to your Google Apps implementation without needing IT or web design support.Technical Writers using Google Apps for Business could use Papyrs to improve access to their documents
The Google Apps Marketplace definitely adds a new wrinkle to Office productivity that Microsoft is still playing catch up with especially with the launch of Office 365 that is supposed to have its own online app store.
As a technical writer what apps are you using from the Google Apps Marketplace?