Review of Google Docs
I’ve been using Google Docs spreadsheet more and more due to its awesome ability to share spreadsheets with multiple people via the web. You get to see in real time which cell someone else is editing and you can have multiple people editing a particular spreadsheet simultaneously.
I met with Rickard Wärnelid of
When I do need to work with others (e.g. a client, a colleague) I generally make sure only one of us is in the spreadsheet at any given time. This involves phone calls, emails or IMs to ensure that you are “it” and can safely open the model and make changes. Clearly this is suboptimal – something Google, Zoho, and others have latched onto with their web spreadsheet offerings. Now even Microsoft is coming to the party with Office 2010 – which by all accounts will provide similar
Of all Google Docs’ features, collaboration is the one that might get me to switch away from Excel. So, I thought I’d do two things: 1) publish a
My first comment is that I spent far longer developing this Google Doc spreadsheet than I would have spent had I built it in Excel. Partly this is because I know Excel so much better, but mainly because the web interface just slows everything down. My modeling speed was about the same as using Excel after having consumed 6 beers over a 2 hour period – something I am sure I have done before. I guess I could have built the whole thing in Excel first and then imported it into Google Docs, but there would likely have been so many incompatabilities that I would have had to fix, that it would hardly have been worth it. Plus, that wasn’t the point of the exercise.
However, and this is the key point – I would never have used Excel for this model! The whole point was that my wife and I needed to be able to access the spreadsheet numerous times a day and often at the same time. Using Excel, the only workable solution would have been to ask her to email me with all her transaction details so that I alone could enter it into the spreadsheet. (A very low W.A.F.♥ rating.) Emailing boring numbers to me is not nearly as exciting as entering the data into a spreadsheet and seeing instant results i.e. calculations, charts, etc. So, I am pretty sure this method would never have worked anyway.
So, here’s a summary of my experience with Google Docs spreadsheet:
- fantastic ability to collaborate with others
- very simple interface – no complex menus, toolbars, ribbons, etc
- if you know Excel you’ll immediately know how to use Google Docs
- it works
- the user interface is fiddly and slow (compared to Excel) – things like resizing columns, moving around the grid, inserting, deleting, etc
- charts are basic and hard to position on the grid (problem if you like to have full control over where on the grid you lay things out – which I do)
- all formatting is adhoc – no styles or global formatting settings
- no formula traceability
Verdict – Google Docs rocks! (actually, “slow waltzes” is probably more accurate.)
Let me know if you get some use out of the cash tracking model.♥ = Wife Acceptance Factor