Thursday, January 5, 2012

I am confused (Google docs Vs Dropbox)

One of the interesting thing that I worked recently on was a small decision of either using Google docs or Dropbox for storing and sharing documents.

Seems unimportant?

I also thought the same on hearing this for the first time, but believe me this proved to be an interesting study.

Let me take you to the tour of both.

Google docs is an online solution provided by Google to collaboratively work (sharing, editing, etc) on the documents.
  Several addons like Cloud Connect, etc helps us to sync our native MS office documents to Google docs.
One of the advantage of Google docs is that multiple people can edit one single document @ the same time.

On the other hand Dropbox is used to share files, irrespective of the file being a document, image or some thing else.
Same account can be either synced to multiple computers OR same files can be shared to multiple accounts, hence giving feasibility of accessing the files across the globe (on multiple systems).
Feature like sharing and selective sync help us selective share our files with different people.
One of the advantage of Dropbox is the ability to share all sorts of files (not only just documents)

And the confusion starts :-)

It looks pretty simple that Google docs should be used for documents and Dropbox for other files, but the problem statement lies in the fact that Google changes format of our existing MS office/Open office  documents to Google docs format (on uploading). In most of the cases this is not an issue, but it created trouble when you have formulas, macros and images in your documents, as
"They may disappear from your uploaded document".
Google also provides a solution to this, in the form of uploading the documents (in this case other files can also be uploaded) in original format (not changing the format to Google docs format).

Here comes another "BUT".

But this also has a drawback, that we can't maintain single source of truth for the documents. To edit any document we have to download it and then again upload, which creates multiple copies in Google docs (which have to be manually deleted).

Conclusion after digging deaper:
Using any of these tool is subjective.

* You are creating the documents from scratch.
* And the priority is to have simulanious editing of documents, rather than maintaing MS office formatting, example: Attendance sheet etc.
Then Google docs is THE tool.

* You want to use your existing docs.
* And the priority is to use the MS office format.
Then Dropbox is THE tool.

* Google can save money sent on MS office licenses.
* Both the tools can save the hassle of maintaining local shared file server.
* Both have there recovery mechanism, so no danger of getting fully F**k*d.
* Both provide full fleged files/documents sharing system (sharing sccross the globe).
* Both provide the confidence of having one single "Source Of Truth" for documents.
* Dropbox provides offline editing of files (as they gets synced when connected back to internet). Same is provided by Google docs when used with Cloud Connect.

As my requirement was more of sharing and offline working, so I choose Dropbox for now :-)

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