A Review of WordPress and Jetpack’s New Blog From Google Docs Feature
On Monday, I gave Google’s new integration with WordPress a spin. I also, for better or worse, tried out Google Voice typing for Google Docs. The results were a mixed bag.
As an experiment, I tried using Google Voice typing without correcting anything manually after the opening blurb on the blog post to demonstrate how accurate (or not) it was. There were a number of issues involving formatting, and of course typos, that were intolerable. If you go back and read the post, you can tell what I was trying to say, but to anyone who gets frustrated by poor grammar or spelling, reading that blog post is probably an aggravating experience.
Today, I am going to try something similar. Because I wanted to review Google Docs’ integration with WordPress separately, I figured I would give it another shot, but this time I will correct things as I go. This should provide a more realistic portrait of how Google Voice typing will work if I decide to use in the future.
What is this integration you speak of?
The folks behind WordPress recently announced a connector inside of Google Docs that will allow you to publish any Google Doc document as a WordPress draft blog post. Setting it up only took a couple of minutes, and was as simple as going to the add-ons menu in Google Docs and using common sense to stumble upon the add-on. Connecting it took a few clicks and a few passwords, though it could be more involved if you aren’t already a WordPress.com Jetpack user.
I did all of this on Monday, and though it “worked,” I noticed a few quirks with how the documents were rendered in WordPress. The main one was that there was an extra line inserted between each paragraph. As I noted in Monday’s post, this also happens when I paste in Microsoft Word documents. The fix for this seems simple: line breaks instead of paragraph breaks. For those using voice typing, it is the difference between saying “new line” and “new paragraph.”
Why would anyone want to use Google Docs to post to WordPress?
The answer there is simple. I know many lawyers who are comfortable with a word processor, but would be intimidated by the WordPress backend. Yes, I know for those of us who use it regularly, WordPress seems to be as simple as Facebook. But heck, I know many lawyers who are intimidated by Facebook. If I can find a solution for them that is as simple as editing a document and hitting a save button, it would be a Godsend.
Another perfect use case is for large content teams, especially those that rely on contract or temporary writers. Google Docs allows collaborative writing – multiple people can edit a document simultaneously. Also, publishing drafts without logging in to WordPress is great for teams that don’t want to give access to the dashboard to all of their employees or ones who simply don’t want to train their content staff on WordPress. In fact, for situations like that, this is pretty freaking awesome – anybody who grew up in the last 30 years knows how to use a word processor, so training takes minutes rather than hours. If you can have your teams use Google Docs and send drafts to WordPress, the editor only has to log in, edit the drafts, and schedule them once they are comfortable with the finished product.
What is the verdict?
The verdict is this: it works.
The positives include being able to edit something in Google Docs, which is a much more comfortable environment for many people. It also plays a lot more friendly with Google voice typing if that is your thing.
Note that even if you write the post in Google Docs and hit the save button, it merely saves a draft of a post on your WordPress server – you still have to go on to WordPress and hit the publish or schedule button to get it online. I suppose that alone is a con — it’s not quite write-and-publish from Google Docs.
And what are the cons? For one, there was the weird issue with adding extra lines between paragraphs. That is pretty aggravating, and my substitute solution of using line breaks instead of paragraph breaks will probably work, but it makes reading the text as I add it incredibly painful because there is no space between paragraphs. This is probably a WordPress issue, as it happens to both Google and Microsoft docs.
Also, I ran into a couple of errors setting it up. I had to log into my WordPress, go into the Jetpack settings, and enable an API. Also, it goes without saying that you will need to have the Jetpack plugin installed on your WordPress site, have a WordPress.com/Jetpack login, and be prepared with all of this information when you set it up in Google Docs. It’s not a big deal for geeks, but setup is not for amateurs either.
Will I use it? Perhaps, at least for first drafts, but only if I really want to use Google voice typing. In fact, I can totally see myself using voice typing to blast out a quick draft for when I have an idea but don’t have time to sit and type. The worst feeling for a writer is coming up with a great idea, being unable to develop it at that time because of work or other obligations, and then losing that idea to the ethers by the time you sit down and type. This would alleviate that problem greatly.
PostScript: this was my second go-round with Google Voice typing. It is still pretty rough in terms of first time accuracy, but I have also pushed out probably more than a thousand words here in about five minutes. I estimate editing it will probably take another 15 minutes and then I only have to add links and schedule in WordPress while watching the second Dirty Harry movie. This seems like a better workflow than typing things manually. and if not, it at least will work for on-the-go situations where I want to get an idea out on the page, If voice transcription works this well on mobile using Google Docs, then this becomes an incredibly, incredibly handy tool. In fact, I’m going to try that right now. The next section will be on my iPhone, and after that, will be on my Android.
iPhone: Of course, typing this on my iPhone means I am using Siri’s voice recognition instead of Google’s voice recognition. This will be your small sample preview of my next post, which will be a review of using Siri to type a document instead of using Google’s transcription.
Siri so far seems better, but I would imagine that you need a data connection that is reliable for it to work well. Midway through this paragraph, I switched from Wi-Fi to LTE and I already see a little bit of a difference, though it is still somehow better than the Google solution.
Android: And now, it is the Android’s turn. How well does it work? It’s a little more laggy than Siri, but it does seem to be working better than the desktop version. At this point, I am very curious as to whether it is simply the quality of my desktop computer’s microphones that are inhibiting the transcription on desktop. After all, the same Google technology underlines my Android keyboard and the desktop Google Docs voice typing platform.
One last note before I go: The add-on that connects Google Docs to WordPress is not available on mobile. So, if you want to publish to WordPress from Google Docs, you will need access to a desktop browser where you can log in and hit the save button to transfer it to WordPress. That means for on-the-go voice transcribed blog drafts, it might just be better to use the WordPress app and skip Google Docs altogether since voice typing on both iOS and Android comes from the phone’s keyboard and doesn’t require you to use Google Docs.