Review: Documents To Go rocks Google Android with unique Office functions

Summary:Documents To Go was one of the first Office applications I used on my Palm devices and is also the premier solution for RIM BlackBerry users. There are only a few applications on the Android Market that I have purchased over the last 8 months that I have had the G1, but one that I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you purchase right now (if you already haven't) is Documents To Go for Google Android. I was amazed by the functionality that DataViz was able to pack into this mobile application suite and think it exceeds their client on ALL other smartphone platforms. Documents To Go brings a highly desired enterprise capability to the Android platform and the obstacles to adopting Android as a viable business device are starting to fall.

Documents To Go was one of the first Office applications I used on my Palm devices and is also the premier solution for RIM BlackBerry users. There are only a few applications on the Android Market that I have purchased over the last 8 months that I have had the G1, but one that I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you purchase right now (if you already haven't) is Documents To Go for Google Android. With the Google I/O conference going on now I thought it was fitting to post my full review of this application. I was amazed by the functionality that DataViz was able to pack into this mobile application suite and think it exceeds their client on ALL other smartphone platforms. Documents To Go brings a highly desired enterprise capability to the Android platform and the obstacles to adopting Android as a viable business device are starting to fall. Check out over 40 screenshots of the application in use in my image gallery and check out my experiences below to see what makes this such a compelling Android product.


Image Gallery: Check out over 40 screenshots of Documents To Go for Google Android running on my T-Mobile G1.
Image Gallery: DTG About screen
Image Gallery: Track changes options

I have paid up to $50 for Documents To Go in the past on my Palm devices, but you can get it on your Google Android device for only in the Android Market for a limited-time introductory price of $19.99 (regularly $29.99.) IMHO, that is a steal for full Word and Excel functionality. Also, if you purchase this Standard Edition now you will get a free update to the client that supports PowerPoint and PDF viewing (there is no native PDF viewer in the T-Mobile G1). Remember, you can try it risk free for 24 hours on the Android Market too, but after testing it out I see no reason why you would ever return it.

Outstanding features: I'll walk through the Word and Excel functionality of the software below, but first I wanted to list some of the absolutely amazing features of the client (some of which I have NEVER seen before on a mobile device). With Documents To Go for the Google Android platform you get support for Word and Excel 2007 (XML formatted) documents, support for receiving and sending attachments through Gmail and other applications (including the free RoadSync Exchange beta client, open password protected files, and view Word documents with track changes so you can see what others have done to your document.

I also recommend you check out the details of the DataViz Intact Technology to see how your documents will be handled to maintain file formatting and structure throughout the process of editing.

Initial launch of Documents To Go: When you first launch Documents To Go you will see a simple "home" screen with Word To Go and Sheet To Go buttons up top and About Documents To Go, Check for Updates, and Give Us Feedback buttons below the halfway point. Tapping on Word To Go or Sheet To Go takes you into each specific module and from here you can choose to Open a File or Create a New Document. If you have used the application before then you will also see a list of most recently used files, including those stored on external storage cards.

Unlike many other Android applications, pressing the Menu button on the "home" screen or Word/Sheet To Go launch screens will not bring up any other menu options. Everything you need to start using the application is presented in large button format on your display.

Creating and editing Word documents: You can create new Word documents with a simple tap of the creation button. You will find there are several options in the program, as well as two different ways to enter text into the document. With the new Cupcake (1.5) update a small keyboard appears in the bottom right corner when you are in portrait mode so you can use the software keyboard. When in landscape mode, at least on the T-Mobile G1 with a hardware keyboard, this icon disappears and lets you enter text with the keyboard.

There are 6 main icons along the bottom (2 rows in portrait and 1 row in landscape) labeled as follows:

  1. File
  2. Edit
  3. View
  4. Insert
  5. Format
  6. More

Selecting More gives you options for Preferences, File Properties, and Help.

Options within the File menu include New, Open, Close, Save, Save As, and Send via Email. Selecting Save As lets you name the document and specify where it is stored, but it does not let you change the document format (97-04 or 07-08) which I thought was a bit strange. You actually have to go into the More>Preferences menu to toggle the file format. If you think this should be in the Save As menu provide feedback to DataViz.

The Edit menu gives you options for Cut, Copy, Paste, Undo, and Redo. You can select text to edit by placing your finger on the screen and holding it there for a second to switch to selection mode. You will see a pencil on paper icon appear in the bottom right and the words Selection Mode appear. You need to press the Back arrow to turn off this function. You can also simply press the shift key and scroll the trackball over text to select it. Multiple taps on words, sentences, and paragraphs does not seem to do anything for selecting text.

If you select the View option a menu with options for select, select all, zoom, go, table of contents, comments, footnotes, and endnotes appears. Choosing the select option performs the same toggle of the selection mode as described in the previous paragraph. You have zoom options from 25% to 200% in Documents To Go. Go options include top, bottom, and bookmark places for quick document navigation. If your document has a table of contents then you can quickly jump to it, but this does not help you create one. Comments, footnotes, and endnotes can also be viewed if they are contained in the document that you opened.

The Insert option lets you quickly insert page breaks, bookmarks, hyperlinks, tables, and comments. The hyperlink dialog box that appears lets you enter the text and URL for the hyperlink. The table dialog box lets you specify the number of rows and columns to start with for your table. When you select to insert a comment then your initials (setup during initial launch) and a box taking up the bottom half of the page appears. The box with your comment will disappear after pressing the back arrow and a comment hyperlink will be inserted into the document. This is a great way to edit and comment on documents you receive on the road.

You will find several options under the Format menu, including bold, italic, underline, font, paragraph, bullets & numbering, hyperlink, and increase/decrease indent. Bold, italic, and underline are self-explanatory. If you choose font then an almost full page dialog box appears to let you specify bold, italic, underline (single, by word, double, dot, etc), font name (comes loaded with 6 fonts), font size (from 8 to 72 or custom), superscript, subscript, strikethrough, double strikethrough, small caps, all caps, text color (40 choices), and highlight color (also same 40 choices). WOW, now that is a lot of options for a phone.

Selecting Format>paragraph is almost as impressive with options for alignment (left, center, right, justify, and distributed), left and right indent distances, indent special, indent special by, spacing before, spacing after, line spacing, and line at.

Bullets & numbering gives you three bullet format options, five number format options, and four outline format options. When you increase and decrease indent then your bullets and numbering change dynamically to reflect these indents. Another pretty amazing tool that lets you use your Google Android device as an outline machine.

Choosing to format the hyperlink gives you the same dialog box as when you created your hyperlink.

After selecting the More menu option you can then select Preferences and choose from the following; display table in compressed view, change your new file format, enter the author name and initials, and customize track changes options. Track Changes Options include how to call out insertion and deletions, colors of insertions and deletions, and color of the comments that are made to the document.

More>File Properties simply shows you the basic stats (name, type, location, size, and last modified info) for your document.

Help lets you choose to check for updates, see the about page, or view the help website.

I think you can agree that Word To Go is quite powerful so now let's take a look at Sheet To Go on the T-Mobile G1 Google Android device.

What's in Sheet To Go? »

Creating and editing Excel spreadsheets: DataViz didn't skimp on their spreadsheet module (Sheet To Go) either and again you simply select the large labeled button to create a new spreadsheet. The same type of bottom options and two different text entry methods are available to you in Sheet To Go.

The same 6 main icons can be found along the bottom (2 rows in portrait and 1 row in landscape) labeled as follows:

  1. File
  2. Edit
  3. View
  4. Format
  5. Insert
  6. More

Selecting More gives you options for Delete, Row, Columns, Preferences, File Properties, and Help.

Starting again with the File menu shows you options for New, Open, Close, Save, Save As, and Send via Email.

The Edit menu gives you options for Edit Cell, Cut, Copy, Paste, Undo, and Redo. Selecting to edit the cell places your cursor within the selected cell for text or number entry. You can also tap and hold on a cell to select it and enter data. This tap and hold with a drag (or shift and trackball) lets you select cells for further manipulation or editing.

If you select the View option a menu with options for select, zoom, go, worksheets, freeze panes, and cell comment appears. You can create and toggle through multiple worksheets in Sheet To Go. Freezing the panes is a handy trick when working with large spreadsheets and is something you don't see too often in a mobile application.

Two options are available under the Format menu; cell and sort. Choosing cell gives you options for bold, italic, strikethrough, underline, font name, font size, text color, and cell color. The same options mentioned in Word To Go are available here.

The Insert option lets you quickly insert functions, rows, columns, sheets, autosums, and cell comments. There are 111 different functions for you to choose from in Sheet To Go and they are organized by category via a drop down box to make browsing through them faster and more efficient. You can insert rows and columns, along with sheets where you can specify where the new sheet gets placed. The summation function is probably one of the most, if not the most, used function so DataViz makes it easy to insert this into a cell where you can then specify which cells to sum. The cell comment function works much like Excel on the desktop where a dialog box appears for you to enter a comment (along with the author's name). After you enter the comment and select OK then a small indicator (red dot) appears in the cell to let you know there is a comment there you can tap and view.

After selecting the More menu option you can then select delete (row, column, sheet, or cell comment), row (select row, hide row, unhide row), column (select column, autofit, hide column, unhide column), preferences (file type, locale, name and initials), and file properties.

Help lets you choose to check for updates, see the about page, or view the help website.

Sending files: Both Word To Go and Sheet To Go modules have a File>Send via Email option and when you select this you will see Gmail and RoadSync Message (if installed) appear on the screen so you can quickly add the file as an attachment. I use the excellent TouchDown Exchange application (another commercial product I purchased), but this does not appear in the email option list. However, you can simply launch your email application and add the file as an attachment because Android has an easily accessible file system.

So what's missing?: Some of their other Documents To Go products support PowerPoint files and DataViz has publicly stated that this support is coming within weeks. A major flaw in the Google Android OS is the lack of native support for viewing PDF documents (I receive a ton of these via email to review) so DataViz is also adding this to the Documents To Go suite. You will get both of these additions for FREE if you purchase Documents To Go for Android now. The current version is 1.002 (I just updated on 27 May).

Looking forward: DataViz must have a large developer corps as they are working on Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, Palm, Symbian, iPhone, and Android clients available or coming soon. They hit it out of the park with the current version for the Google Android platform and with the addition of the two pieces mentioned above I don't see much else that can be improved in the client.

If you ever wanted to create, view or edit Word and Excel files on your Android device, then I highly recommend you pick it up now for just $19.99.

Go back to read about the Word To Go module »

Topics: Mobility, Android, Collaboration, Google, Microsoft, Software

About

Matthew Miller started using a mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host with GigaOM's Kevin Tofel on the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned over 200 d... Full Bio

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