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    I lack the knowledge and vocabulary to rant about UI/page designs I dislike in a way that gets across what I dislike about them so it was really gratifying to read this.

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      As I read, I kept having these… visions of a bored product manager at Google telling some hapless developer to make things work as they do in order to hit a bunch of bizarre OKRs and the whole experience got a little too real for me…

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        The whole Goggle office app suite is just really bad, and it’s amazing because I’m pretty sure it’s gotten worse over time?

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          I thought there must be something better until I used Microsoft Office 365 and was much more annoyed.

          I quite like docs and sheets. I guess it depends on your use case. I just need something simple with not a lot of features.

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            I use Libreoffice and I can’t say I have any complaints. Mind you I am a programmer mostly and I spend less than 1% of my time at work working with office type documents. I have been subjected to the entire google suite by my current company though and I can definitely say I am not a fan.

            I am not a fan of cloud services in general. I have a big fat self built pc tower, I have no need for thin clients. I see the value of collaborative tools but I really wish everything was just built on top of git.

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              I value the real time collaboration.

              Otherwise, I am a big fan of putting things into version control.

              And honestly, the collaboration is 95% about comments which would be handled somewhat well with gitlab, github, another review tool…

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              I find it depends on the tool. For presenter tools, I haven’t found anything better than PowerPoint. Early versions of Keynote had the advantage that they implemented only a subset of the features of PowerPoint (which included the minimum set required to make good presentations) but they gradually copied PowerPoint misfeatures (such as shrinking text if you type more, because slides with 1,000 words are obviously better than slides with 100 words). Google’s thing is awful, so is the Libre/OpenOffice one. PowerPoint’s Design Ideas, morph transitions, and SmartArt largely make up for its other shortcomings (such as awful drawing tools, inability to do syntax highlighting for code, and so on).

              I like LaTeX beamer for technical presentations because the combination of the listings package and TikZ lets you make some very clear diagrams including code listing (e.g. control-flow graphs with code in each node) fairly easily and it’s also easy to have a single document that generates the slides and the handouts.

              The only better thing I’ve found is Sozi, which will never gain widespread use because it’s too different. Sozi is inspired by Prezzi. It takes an SVG file as input and creates a presentation by panning, zooming, and (the feature that makes it much better than Prezzi) making layers appear and disappear.

              When it comes to spreadsheets, they’re all pretty bad. Lotus had two spreadsheet products. The bad one, 123, and the good one, Improv. Everyone copied the bad one. Quantrix Modeller is the only surviving Improv clone and it is orders of magnitude better than any of the others. Apple’s Numbers is probably the best for tiny toy spreadsheets, none of them are appropriate for real work. Jupyter notebooks and Pandas are often a better tool than a spreadsheet for a lot of things people use a spreadsheet for. I’d love to see a good open-source Improv clone but the only one I know of is an unmaintained GNUstep app that is very unfinished.

              Word processors are uniformly bad but I’m hugely biased against WYSIWYG. LyX is the only WYMIWYG editor that I’ve tried and it was less slower for me than typing semantic markup directly into a text editor. I’d really like to see a good visual editor for semantic markup. I’d also like to see something with a decent typesetting engine (in 2022, Word still uses a greedy algorithm for line breaking), such as SILE.

              M365 does the collaborative editing pretty well. I can edit in the desktop app at the same time someone else edits on the web and we can see each other’s edits live. I can also turn on track changes and be able to review all of their changes before merging them. I wish it made versioning more explicit though.

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                Docs and Sheets are pretty good for basic stuff. The only downside is I’ve never had them work offline correctly, even on a Chromebook.

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                  Docs has definitely worked for me offline a couple of times on train rides but haven’t used that recently.

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                  I thought there must be something better until I used Microsoft Office 365 and was much more annoyed.

                  Why would trying those two options give you the impression that there isn’t anything better? LOL just kidding. Try Office 2003.

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                    We probably have different use cases.

                    I mostly have docs with a simple format that I want to collaborate on. E.g. comments.

                    I believe that Office 2003 is very capable for traditional office tasks.

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                      I used Office in 2003 as a student. It might be fine for “office” tasks, but it was totally inadequate for students. Basic reference management just wasn’t there.

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                        Automated reference management seems like more trouble than it’s worth for the sorts of papers I wrote as a student! Until grad school at least, where everything is LaTeX.

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                  I’m needing to use Gsuite at my new gig and I think on the whole it’s better than the competition.

                  But why oh why does everything default to ‘/edit’ and is there an experienced Gsuite user that can point me to a setting or even Firefox plugin or something to fix that? I suppose I could use Tridactyl to rewrite. I very very often just want to read design docs, not accidentally mash some keys into them.

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                    IDK, I think Google Docs is pretty good. Especially with the pageless mode. I just stick to the default styles and the only formatting I do is setting headings.

                    It’s a bit slow but rock solid and the collaboration is top notch.

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                      Especially with the pageless mode

                      It blows my mind that they just introduced this now. Been using this software for over a decade (not by choice) and have never once used it to produce anything that ended up on paper, but for over a decade, every document I worked on had page breaks in it that you couldn’t turn off.

                      Absolutely boggling.

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                        I do agree. I think this is a huge step and hopefully they really take advantage of it. I tried Dropbox Paper which ironically is not so focused on actual paper but it was far too buggy and the collaboration was weak. I guess this will be enough to keep using Google Docs for my D&D notes and stuff.

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                    Google Slides makes me miss PowerPoint.

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                      I don’t get this one:

                      All measurements are in inches

                      What’s wrong with inches on a canvas with the size defined in inches? The slides have no intrinsic pixel size - they’ll be different on my screen, your screen, my mobile, before we even go into scaled/unscaled pixels.

                      Am I missing something obvious?

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                        On the web, pixel doesn’t mean pixel. Because of bad choices in CSS1, the web now has a standardised DPI of 96. One CSS pixel is 1/96th of an inch. An inch is an SI unit defined as 2.54 cm and so a pixel is a very awkward recurring decimal size in any sane units. It is the browser’s responsibility to scale things according to the physical display’s size. This means that you are entirely correct: there is no good reason for preferring pixels over inches.

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                          In CSS, “inches” are just a set number of pseudo-pixels, not actual inches.

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                            Inch is not an SI unit, cm is.

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                              cm isn’t an SI unit, the meter is :D

                              But inches are defined exactly in terms of meters so it’s moot.


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                                Meter is base SI unit, while cm is derived SI unit. Anyway, it’s just minor and unimportant :)

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                              c.f. the shapes toolbar which has the same set of shapes as every office program since at least 2003