I have been a big fan of Google Apps (Docs, Calendar, Gmail) for at least the last several years. They provide a lot of the features you need for an office suite and they do so in an open and accessible way. I found myself at a point where I was using Google Docs to manage most of my business and personal documents and notes. Then I started writing documentation at work using MS Word 2007 (MS Office being the tool of choice at the AAN), this opened my eyes a bit.
My love affair with Google Docs is coming to a close and my relationship with MS Office is finding new passion. After writing several user manuals and other documents with Word 2007 I started to find that the experience was so much more fulfilling than what I was getting from Google Docs.
Google Docs doesn’t come close to the ease with which Word 2010 allows you to create well formated and good looking documents. Yes you can create a CSS based style sheet for your Google doc word processing file, which is great if you love spending hours writing and tweaking CSS. Word comes packed with a load of pre-configured styles for you to choose from. If you can’t find one that looks the way you want, no problem, there is a tool for modifying your style and you can even save it out for use in a different document. Aside from the cosmetic features word is rich with all of the old features you know and love.
I have yet to find much that has changed in Excel for 2010 but I am sure they have made similar improvements as in Word. All of the powerful features from previous versions carry over of course, including the powerful dynamic and pivot tables.
It has never been easier to create fast and stunning presentations. This is not something I have done very much of and frankly I feel slide show presentations are used completely inappropriately in most presentations. Come on people, it isn’t a place to write all of your lines, give me the key points.
This is really the focus of this post. OneNote is a backwater piece of software that I don’t think Microsoft was ever too serious about. Well, the times they are ah’changin. OneNote has transformed my personal organization, not to mention several areas of cooperative organization at work. If you are unfamiliar, OneNote as the name may suggest is a software designed for taking and organizing notes. I have tried several methods of note taking in my time, but I have always strived for a paperless solution. For me OneNote is an excellent solution. Content is organized by “Notebook”, “Section”, “Page” and “Sub-Pages”. All have direct correlation to real world objects. This makes it very easy for even a complete stranger to the software to open up a notebook and understand what they are looking at.
The content that you can put into OneNote is extremely open. You can put text and images anywhere you want just like on a real piece of paper. Unlike a piece of paper you can also include hyperlinks, files and links to files. You can even integrate content with other MS productions such as Outlook. For example, defining a piece of content as a “Task” will automatically create a task in Outlook for you.
To top it all off the biggest advantage digital note taking in OneNote provides is searchability. Try as you may to create a short hand system for yourself to emphasize hand written content, making it easier to find later, you can’t match the power of really good search functionality. OneNote will even index written content it finds in images using OCR (Optical Character Recognition).
I decided I liked MS Office 2010 I decided to bite the bullet and purchase it for my personal computers at home. It has been a very welcome addition to my software collection.