Could you be productive without offline document access?

Summary:When Google announced last month that it was making more functionality available to Google Docs users, company officials mentioned in passing that offline access to its productivity suite would be suspended, starting May 3. Today is that day.

When Google announced last month that it was making more functionality available to Google Docs users, company officials mentioned in passing that offline access to its productivity suite would be suspended, starting May 3.

Today is that day. And Google is proceeding according to plan. The part I didn't realize until today is Google isn't offering a date when offline access, built on top of  HTML5, will be restored.

There are some caveats, as a Google official noted when I checked in today to verify the offline suspension. Users of Google's Gmail and Calendar won't have their offline access removed. But the rest of the suite is losing offline access capabilities. From a Google spokesperson:

"On April 12 when we launched the new Docs editors, we also announced that we'd be temporarily discontinuing support for Google Docs offline access beginning today. There are a small number of users that use offline Docs and we are committed to bringing back improved offline support for them in the future, taking advantage of new technologies like HTML5 and advancements in modern browsers, but we don't have a specific date to share at this time.

"In the meantime, users can export files to their computer to access them offline or use a document management application from Syncplicity or Memeo."

Hmm. I don't know about you, but I operate offline more than online when creating and editing documents, presentations and spreadsheets. A lack of offline access -- sans jumping through a bunch of hoops -- would hurt my productivity.

While I have decent Internet access at home and work, I seldom find good, dependable free Wifi when I am on the road. I have to use my EVDO card, which is capped at 5 GB per month (with hefty fees if I go beyond that limit). I also prefer the "safe rather than sorry" route, meaning I compose and edit my documents offline so that if/when I lose my Internet connection, I don't lose all my info along with it. Maybe someday, if/when, Internet access really is ubiquitious I'll change my ways.

The ability to collaborate on documents and save them to the Web is all well and good. But those things wane in comparison to offline access, in terms of importance.

Maybe I'm an atypical office worker. But I'm curious about other "information workers''" habits. Do you work as much (or more) offline as you do online?

Topics: Data Management, Banking, Collaboration, CXO, Enterprise Software, Google, Software

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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