Saturday, August 31, 2013

Update: Creating Documents on a Tablet

With all the interest there is in using tablets for document creation, I need to amplify my short posting a year ago on the subject. What I said there still applies, but new choices abound now. I need to supply more facts

New Choices 

 The need for more facts became evident following our great Willow Valley Introduction to Tablets presentation by management with courses to follow. (Willow valley kicked off an Introduction to Tablets for residents and prospective residents in the Cultural Center here and there was standing room only. When questions came up afterwards about document creation I felt I needed to address the issue more thoroughly. Then, when my single one paragraph website posting was visited heavily afterword on the subject I knew I needed to do something better.

 There are many new choices, too many, as usual. But to make a good choice you need to know about all of them.

Here we go.

Simple and Not So Simple Tools

Most of us will need either a very simple word processing application or a very capable application, depending upon what we are doing. I actually use both. To publish my two books I needed the capabilities of a heavy duty word processor to create chapters, table of contents, index, and footnotes. I needed the format of PDF documents required by the publisher.

But for the rest of the time I do not need that complexity at all. In fact I need to avoid it. I need simplest fastest tool.

I used Word and Word Perfect for the books. I found the menu structures crude and complicated beyond reason but nonetheless essential. I then needed to convert to PDF format.

To inject an opinion here, I believe the world needs a far better conceived word processor than MS Word? and I believe that need will be filled with the advent of tablets. Here is your opening Apple. You are the masters of simplicity.

 New Ways to Handle MS Office Files

 Meanwhile we do have some better choices for those who do not feel they need to stay with a product like Office or who simply do not want to take the time to learn something new. Most of us will never need to use anything like older complicated and often confusing products.

Also, we need the cloud supported supercomputer speech recognition which comes with the new simpler tools. This speech recognition does not require the training needed for Microsoft Office.

For Old Time MS Office Users 

But I do not wish to diminish the importance of Microsoft Office for those who have always used it. Not only that, but there are actually ways to use Microsoft Office on tablets. I will cover these below.

Meanwhile, if you have used Microsoft Office for a long time, keep that old laptop working as long as possible if for Microsoft Office only.

For New Users

 For others , there are new choices and alternatives. Let's go over those new choices. I still use the Write app for my blog website and for quick notes. But I now use others for other reasons. For example I use Evernote because it indexes my notes. I have started using two new Microsoft Office look alikes, both actually excellent. One is Office Pro and another is Google Drive or Google Docs. Both provide most of the functions of Microsoft Office in the digital format. Both give me easy access to print from my tablet. Both accept Google's outstanding speech recognition.

Oh, I also use Apple's iPad Pages application, which is outstanding in its simplicity and capabilities and also has easy access to sharing and printing, along with good speech recognition. It has one additional benefit that I can wirelessly display it on TV and compose documents from my easy chair . I like that.

Using Microsoft Office Itself on Tablets

I could also actually use Microsoft Office on my tablets. Here we go again with more choices and frequent fluid changes. Heretofore Microsoft online users could use Microsoft 365 for their tablets at a fee.

Microsoft also licensed Microsoft Office online to others, such as OnLive Desktop. OnLive Desktop actually puts the whole Windows desktop on the tablet. Looks just like Windows.

So far I have only found an awkward way to print. While I can use Microsoft Word to create documents I need to go to a separate online file app to send them to elsewhere such as a printer. However, OnLive provides some other benefits. It provides browsing with Flash support. Note that OnLive has both free and paid services for a range of capabilities.

More recently, Microsoft has come out with another option to use Office on tablets: SkyDrive . It has announced that this option will be available both for Apple and Google Android tablets. So far I could not make it work with Android, but I will keep trying. (Another app called Cloudon does work with Android SkyDrive files only.)

SkyDrive, however, works beautifully on the iPad Mini. Like OnLive, it displays MS Office just like Windows. It works well with printers. So far it has been free. The downside is that it is too big to fit on the iPad Mini screen. Still I can project that screen wirelessly to any size TV or display using an adapter cable for VGA for an Apple TV for HDMI input. Back to that comfortable easy chair again.

Ongoing Development

This development is not over and the choices are broad and will get broader. Lately the Parallels app has become available for the iPad to run the entire operating system from your Windows or Apple computer. The cost is about $80 annually.

The Microsoft Surface Tablet

The Microsoft Surface tablet includes the ability to run Microsoft Office as well as a limited number of tablet apps which are reported to run slow. That MS Office benefit may be crucial to some writers. Microsoft Office features, however, may be limited. This device also only runs a very few Windows apps. I do believe this capability will be extended as some developers are working on it, for example, Irfanview, what a great photo app.


This is a "hot topic" as more users shed their laptops, and as evidenced by the wide readership of this posting in just a few days.  Also, just a few days after my posting was published I came across this item from the Associated Press and NPR: click or tap for "Google, Apple provide decent contenders to Office".  I don't agree with all the statements---Office is indeed a viable option on your tablet as I have mentioned and in other less publicized ways, but the point is that  better options are out there as the writer says, and I certainly agree with that.   Again, watch Apple...

Th reason I question that "viable" choice of words is that seniors come to me with this demand: "I WANT A TABLET AND I WANT TO RUN WORD---NOW SHOW ME HOW".   I say "Keep your old Windows computer and run Windows from your tablet remotely, or just examine your needs and pick the simplest options for them.   Your choice.

Tao or click for more about using MS Office

No comments:

Post a Comment