Google Docs Outage: Offline Editing Needed, Now - InformationWeek
Cloud // Software as a Service
06:13 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
Connect Directly
Ransomware: Latest Developments & How to Defend Against Them
Nov 01, 2017
Ransomware is one of the fastest growing types of malware, and new breeds that escalate quickly ar ...Read More>>

Google Docs Outage: Offline Editing Needed, Now

An outage on Wednesday reminds me that Google Docs never should have been launched without full offline storage and editing. Why doesn't Google make this a priority?

Google's cloud-based services may be energy efficient but on Wednesday the company delivered too much energy savings: Google Docs Lists--the filelist component of Google Docs--went offline about 2:18 p.m. PT. As indicated on the Google Apps Status Dashboard, Google Documents and Google Drawings failed shortly thereafter.

So much for the cloud computing. I've been working in Google Docs since January 2010 and the service is almost always available. But the frustration of a cloud service failure is disproportionately higher than it is with local software crashes.

I've experienced plenty of Microsoft Word crashes over the years and usually recovery has been fairly rapid. But with cloud services, all you can do is wait for an update. You feel powerless, because frankly you are powerless. And that's a problem, one that goes beyond the relative merits of a product to the emotional connection we have with our tools.

Google doesn't seem to appreciate this. The company recently introduced limited offline functionality, so you can store a limited number of Gmail messages, Docs files, and Calendar entries locally and access them when there's no network connection. Offline editing has yet to be implemented.

Google group product manager Rajen Sheth suggested offline functionality was more of an edge use-case than a critical function.

If you ask me, Google Docs never should have been launched without full offline storage and editing. Some Google engineers clearly recognize the importance of offline functionality: The company made a big deal over Google Gears several years ago because it was a big deal.

Yet Google hasn't made reinventing Gears in HTML5 a priority, perhaps because it's in the business of online ad serving or because it has been focused on Google+.

If it had, its Chromebooks might be more useful. For months I've wanted to use one while covering an industry conference of one sort or another. But I dare not, for fear that poor network connectivity might prevent me from taking notes. And probably half of the conferences I attend, even big events sponsored by major companies, have a network issue at some point.

Even a brief network slowdown is enough to ruin writing in Google Docs. I've had to switch from Google Docs to trusty old Word or Notepad probably four or five times in the past two years during conference keynotes, due to network issues.

At 2:40 p.m. PT, Google posted another update: "We're aware of a problem with Google Docs List affecting a majority of users. The affected users are unable to access Google Docs List. We will provide an update by September 7, 2011 3:40:00 p.m. UTC-7 detailing when we expect to resolve the problem. Please note that this resolution time is an estimate and may change."

And at 3:18 p.m. PT, the cloud returned.

"The problem with Google Docs List should be resolved," Google said on its Apps Dashboard. "We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience and continued support."

I appreciate the apology but I'd rather have offline editing support in Docs. This story brought to you by TextEdit.

At the 2011 InformationWeek 500 Conference, C-level executives from leading global companies will gather to discuss how their organizations are turbo-charging business execution and growth--how their accelerated enterprises manage cash more effectively, invest more wisely, delight customers more consistently, manage risk more profitably. The conference will feature a range of keynote, panel, and workshop sessions. St. Regis Monarch Beach, Calif., Sept. 11-13. Find out more and register.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
User Rank: Apprentice
10/25/2011 | 7:50:26 PM
re: Google Docs Outage: Offline Editing Needed, Now
offline support is awaited for most of the users. including me :)
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of IT Report
In today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll