Posted by: ateedub | July 2, 2008

Word is So Last Century

I find myself clinging to something that is likely to soon be a very outdated notion. I want to compose in Word (or really, just any decent word processorOpen Office’s version is fine). 

The concept of authoring an article for publication directly in design software is laughable. I’d just never do that. The programs are too flaky, they don’t allow you to track changes, they may not have spellcheck built in, and page views are just generally not set up to allow easy text editing. So I write in Word.

This is as true for print publications as it is for web publications. The site I manage at work is developed in Dreamweaver, and I just copy my text from Word and paste it into the relevant template. My graphic designer does the same thing for our print publications, copying the text of my articles from Word files into InDesign pages.

I’m realizing that’s so archaic. I’m currently evaluating several content management systems (CMSs). I want to transition my site out of Dreamweaver and into a rationally organized easy system that allows my non-technical users to enter and edit content themselves. And the CMSs all expect you to do your composition in their WSYIWYG editors which overcome all of those arguments I had earlier on.

I say expect because no-one has figured out a decent way to import formatted Word documents into a webpage without breaking your CSS. Essentially, if you just copy and paste from Word to your web-based editor, the formatting gets very weird. So the solution is simply to compose in your CMS.

And as I think about it, I agree. It really doesn’t make sense to compose in one program with the specific intention of publishing that text in another, especially when there are such big conversion issues. The added benefits of doing this are the workflow of approvals and publishing can be built into the system – no emailing files around and wondering who has the current version. This is streamlining the business process for composition and web publishing.

But I can’t get over the fear of my document getting eaten by the system. I want a soft copy backup on a hard drive attached to my computer. Even though I will make any post-pasting edits to the document in the CMS, immediately making my Word document out of date, I still want to know that I’ve got that backup. Even though the CMS will have rollbacks and redundancies, I still want to know I’ve got it on my computer. It’s completely irrational.

I think it’s a holdover from the days when documents did disappear. I often had power outages at home when I was a kid, so I got in the habit of saving my work every 30 seconds. Even then, sometimes the file was just gone. So the idea of composing a long, considered article into a form on a webpage is frightening.

The irony is that I am typing this directly into my WordPress WYSWYG editor in my web browser. It saves my work every 3 minutes or so, and I can hit the save button myself. I can undo and redo what I’ve typed, and I can view the document editor in full screen if I need to. I feel completely comfortable blogging in this space, but I’m not quite ready to take the plunge with the items I write for work. I’ll probably get it over it pretty quickly though…I’ll take anything that makes my life easier!



  1. ReadWriteWeb just blogged about the end of email:

  2. I just had a “Word crashing” moment with wordpress. I mistakenly wrote my Civil Service & Wikipedia entry as a new page instead of a new post and I thought I lost everything when it didn’t show up anywhere. I would have been very not happy if that had happened.

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