Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Google Drive and the Cloud.

I am torn between the benefits of offline vs. true cloud file management. The wonderful google drive has added to these mixed feelings. While there are clear benefits to having synchronized local drives, it also slows down our forward progress. Take trues google doc .gdoc files. These are similar to Unix symbolic links, where we can setup easy access to files or executables somewhere else on our computer. A .gdoc file then is a pointer to your actual file somewhere on the cloud and definitely not a copy of the file. At first I thought, wouldn't it be nice to have a local off-line editor to manage .gdoc files as well? But the offline gears type browser editor, should be used as an exception, not the rule. If you want to stay true legacy, you still can because google drive still synchronises .docx files the traditional way, where behind the scenes, files are being copied back and forth. An example of the exception to which I was referring to is if I am on a plane and want to work on something, clicking on a .gdoc file would be a problem. For these rare situations, it should not be a big deal to download the file manually beforehand, work on the file using the gears version of gdocs and sync it back up manually once done. If you forget to download the file, you would be out of luck, but how many times would it happen? If so just eat the peanuts and drink you coffee. You can pick up the file at any airport lounge. It won't be long before every plane also has online access (with a price of course) anyway.
I also like some of the talk about moving development environments such as eclipse to cloud with access to source code also in the cloud. Wouldn't it be nice to just install a development environment once and have it available on any any computer? Well, we are a few years away from that, but at this point I am certainly enjoying not having much dependancy on legacy office apps like word or excel. Instead I work on a google doc, don't even worry about saving the file. Then come home and from any computer, go into my google drive, and the link is just sitting there. No waiting for a sync, just click and I continue where Ieft off.