Docs, Google’s online word processing application, has gotten a little bit more useful today. It now lets you import files from Microsoft Office 2007, including Word files in the .docx format and Excel files in the .xlsx format.
This isn’t really a huge deal to most people, I’m sure, as they’re probably not using Docs, or at least not trying to import these two file formats very often. But I care, because Google is trying — not quite successfully — to solve a problem I have as a blog editor.
Here at VentureBeat, we write and edit stories in Google Docs before publishing them. The document-sharing and live-editing features make it the most practical for fast-paced editing. From time to time, a guest columnist will pen an article for us and send it over in .docx format. I don’t want to buy Office, and anyway it runs poorly on Macs. So I either have ask one of our long-suffering PC-using staffers to convert the document into something readable or I have to use Open Office to open the document.
The first option is a waste of everyone’s time. The second option loses valuable information like notes the person has left in Word, including information about lines they’ve deleted or added. This is a problem when I’m trying to send multiple drafts back and forth with a columnist, because we both want to see what changes the other person is making.
So, now, I can import .docx files directly into Docs. Unfortunately, though, I’m seeing the same problem as I’ve already seen with .docx files in Open Office. The notes about in-line edits still don’t appear. Both added and deleted items appear within the text when I open it. Oh well. At least the .docx format is already outdated, and will eventually pass into technology history books. Update: It’s not actually outdated, unfortunately. One day….