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Google Updates Google Docs With 450 New Fonts, 60 New Templates And More (techcrunch.com)
73 points by quadrahelix 2049 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 29 comments

I am happy to hear about new fonts; this seems overdue. Now, I'd really like Google Docs to allow setting a document's language. Currently, if you want spell-check in a foreign language, you have to change the language in your account settings, which then changes the UI language too. I want english language UI, with foreign language support in the document.


   File -> Language -> $language_name
do what you want?

No. I can't tell what that does. If I create a new document, and then set File -> Language -> French, and then begin typing, it will still spell-check in English.

Maybe that depends on your browser spell-checking options?

As a school student, I'd find this useful. I study foreign languages at school so it's handy to not have red underlines under every single German word. Some desktop text editing packages can't get language selection right, and ignore my document-wide settings (I'm looking at you, LibreOffice)

You shouldn't need to do anything. From what I can gather, it uses a similar system to google's "Did you mean?" algorithm, which means it basically works for all languages (and also even for words like "derp" and "pwnage" which you would never expect to find in a regular dictionary)

So for example, if I type in "Jee suis de la France" it'll underline "Jee" and suggest "Je" as expected. I can then type "Jaig är från Sverige" in the exact same document and it'll underline "Jaig" and suggest "Jag" as expected.

I can even type in "pwnaige" and it'll suggest "pwnage"!!

Well, at least users have to add them to the dropbox list manually. The cool thing of Google Docs, for me, was that it didn't allow many options, to avoid the mismash of informal, unchecked styles that happens in Word.

With this Office-ification of Docs I see a potential disruption. Maybe a LaTeX-like collaborative WYSIWYG editor? That is, one that has only four or five possible document types, and is very opinionated and consistent in how the document is styled. Like TeXmacs, but online and simpler.

I've considered writing something similar but I wasn't sure if there'd be any demand. I want an online collaborative editor whose paradigm is more LaTeX than Word. My original motivation was for collaborative academic writing in my old lab, but I think it could be useful for a broader technical audience, as well.

There is sharelatex.com for this, but I think using Google Docs with Google Drive and compiling the LaTeX locally might be a better solution.

Unfortunately, there have been a few other less welcome changes recently that weren't mentioned in the TechCrunch article. For example, I can no longer see the revision history of a very important spreadsheet at all: it seems to have become corrupted somehow a few days ago, and winds up half-drawn with no content showing any time I click on an older version now.

As much as I appreciate allowing more design features in Docs, I think they should first have addressed the glaring omissions in basic functionality (by which I mean things real spreadsheets did a decade or two ago, not "basic" things that are very important but only to 5% of the market) and the horrible reliability and backward compatibility.

I suspect "please add more fonts" is a feature more requested than "revision history is sometimes corrupted, please fix."

Sure, but if you compare Google Docs with even everyday, popular functionality in say Excel or Word, it's sorely lacking. It's not really a competitor product for a serious office suite, whatever the PR people would like you to think. It's more a cheap and cheerful office suite but with real-time collaboration features (which is just fine if that's what you need, but a very different kind of product).

> It's not really a competitor product for a serious office suite

How many people really use the "serious office suite" features in Office, though?

Most of the users I've encountered just want to add clip art to their PowerPoint. The folks writing an entire application framework in Excel macros are going to keep Excel, sure, but they're pretty rare.

I reckon there are about 3-4 general levels of interactivity with a "classical" office suite:

1. Puts data in, and uses little else.

Word is a glorified text editor.

Excel is a table editor with built-in arithmetic.

2. Puts data in, uses slightly more advanced features.

Word documents use some simple styles for consistent formatting. They get spelling checked and word counted. They include the occasional picture, numbered list or table.

Excel spreadsheets use named cells and some basic formatting. They might include a few tabs, perhaps separating multiple input tables and adding some summary tables/charts. Summaries calculate some basic statistics. Charts are formatted to be useful instead of pretty.

3a. Uses "power user" features

Word documents are based on carefully constructed templates with comprehensive sets of styles. Long documents generate tables of contents, indexes and cross-references automatically. Collaborative documents have changes tracked and are passed around for review/annotation.

Excel spreadsheets perform serious calculations, use conditional formatting, etc. They are used to explore scenarios interactively.

3b. Uses automation and integration features

Word documents have custom macros to help when producing specific document types. They might combine data from other sources outside the document into a single place, use mail merge, etc.

Excel spreadsheets have custom macros to handle larger data sets, explore scenarios automatically, etc.

My problem with Google Docs isn't that it doesn't support 3a and 3b, it's that it barely supports level 2. You often can't produce professional-level work with Google Docs, because it lacks even the "slightly more advanced" features, never mind the power user or automation/integration capabilities. And while not everyone is a geek like me who wants to streamline everything and produce perfect results all the time, I can honestly say that in every office I've ever worked in, almost everyone operated on at least level 2.

And, I can only imagine, is a much easier fix.

I've never been able to figure out how to get my own styles. In particular I'd like a style named 'code' that I can then use for various code and API text in documents.

I liked the minimal font selection before, since it encouraged focus on content over style. Since there were so few options, all the offered fonts had to be crisp and professional-looking in any context. But I guess more is better…

On another note: the number one feature I want from Google Docs is a permanent setting for page size. My pages are always A4 - why should I have to change the default value every single time I start a new doc?

That was added in the same update, I believe. Now in the "File -> Page settings" dialog there's a "Set as default" button.

Fantastic! Thanks for pointing that out; I don't know how I missed it.

Our printers are set for A4, so trying to print letter-size causes them to beep and refuse to print without user intervention.

Docs already had Comic Sans. Why use anything else?

The biggest and most appreciated change for me is its stability. Gdocs was either crashing or down so frequently in previous few months that I thought they're abandoning it for some reason. It was so bade that I looked for alternatives like Zoho and others. Having had much trouble in the past month, hope they keep it up.

I am really starting to like Google docs as a possible Evernote replacement, as soon as they improve their offline editing support. One thing I can't figure out is how to change the default font for new documents. I try saving the "Normal Text" style with Ubuntu as my font, but new documents always revert back to Arial.


Please add a warning that when a serif font < 24px is used for the main text, readability is degraded on most screens (new iPad being a notable exception).


The internet.

Really? I find Georgia extremely readable on desktops and laptops, and the NYTimes makes heavy use of it at 12px in article bodies. Looks a little dated/old school, but I've never heard of Georgia (or Times for that matter) having "degraded" readability.

Is my browser's zoom setting supported yet?

As far as I know, it's an avoidance for a WebKit bug wherein elements' pixel positions and sizes are simply wrong at non-default zoom levels; see https://bugs.webkit.org/show_bug.cgi?id=60318 and all related.

I chuckled.

Two words: citation manager.

A word count on the summary page would be nice for text docs

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