Following on from yesterday’s blog entry about Social Documents in IBM Docs I wanted to finish my little series with a look at the other parts – Spreadsheets and Presentations.
Spreadsheets are the staple of most businesses but I am sure 95% of us use only the very basic elements of a spreadsheet – columns, summing, sorting and the likes. IBM Docs reaches out to us casual users by providing the controls that most of us use plus the ability to export the documents into OpenOffice or Microsoft Office format for the real professionals.
Like with the other document types, the starting place for a new spreadsheet is your list of files. Click New and then Spreadsheet to get started.
The result is a pretty conventional-looking spreadsheet anyone these days would recognise:
To illustrate the use of the spreadsheet I am going to put together a short list of sales figures for a number of US states, get the total and then sort the results.
I’ve typed in my states and put some numbers in the next column. I behaves exactly like any other spreadsheet. In the row below the last number I want to put a total. Like in Excel or Symphony you use the sum function:
Like in Excel, I press the equals sign then type
SUM followed by the bracket. I can then drag across the cells (shown in red) for IBM Docs to pop the range into the formula). I finish my formula with a close bracket and hit return:
The result is shown as 610 in this example. No I want to sort my list of states into alphabetical order. I select the whole range of data and then choose Data, Sort from the menu bar. A dialog box comes up:
I click OK and guess what – the list is sorted.
While looking at the newly-sorted numbers I see that the California number is quite low. I decide to flag this for review by one of my colleagues. I click on the
19 next to California and choose Team, Comments. The side bar pops out and I can type in a comment. When I hit Add it appears in the list. A little orange triangle in the cell shows that there are comments about it.
OK, so I have made a comment, but what if I know that the value for Georgia is wrong and needs review. Rather than save the file and email it to one of my colleagues for review (and all the inherent problems that come with that), I choose to assign the Georgia value cell to one of my colleagues. Clicking on Team, Assign Cells brings up a dialog box:
Here IBM Docs allows me to create a new activity (in the activities area of Connections), give the task a title and assign it to someone with an instruction, due date and settings for their access.
The assignee gets an email and a link to the activity and spreadsheet and the ability to edit that value. I get a notification when the task is completed.
This ability to work socially and collaboratively on the same document is absolutely fantastic. It has been well thought-out by IBM and well integrated into Connections so that I can continue to work with it as the centre of my business activities.
The Good Citizen
Although IBM Docs spreadsheet currently lacks some of the high-end power which spreadsheet-jockeys would expect, there is a broad selection of functions available:
It also handles the round-trip to its desktop counterparts very well. By default IBM Docs stores the files as OpenOffice format and so opening them in, say, Lotus Symphony is as easy as downloading the file.
Download the file into Symphony:
I can also download and share in the traditional manner with my Excel counterparts:
The result is the same:
But what about something a bit more complex? Well, here’s an example I created in Excel recently. It’s a rollout plan for desktop computers:
Opening the file in IBM Docs produces this:
Pretty good for a browser! IBM Docs Spreadsheets is a competent, compatible and easy to use browser-based alternative to a desktop spreadsheet application. It is also excellent at working in a social setting by not only sharing but managing the collaborative editing of individual cells with your team members.
Presentations in IBM Docs works much like the other document types. You log in, go to your files, and create a new Presentation file. When it opens you see the familiar opening slide:
It’s easy to change the master template to something a bit more interesting than the black and white:
Each of the text boxes is editable, so putting titles and text in is as easy as it is in PowerPoint:
Like its counterparts, IBM Docs Presentations is intended to be collaborative and social and so it becomes easy to flesh out a presentation and assign individual slides to your colleagues to work on, again without the messy need for sending emails with files around and then trying to merge the results:
Delivering a presentation
I must confess to having been a bit skeptical about how good a browser-based presentation would be. When you switch into Presenter mode, a new window pops up maximised to the size of your window. Pressing F11 puts you into full screen mode:
Clicking the mouse on up/down on the cursor keys is all you need to move through the slides like you would in PowerPoint.
For a bit of pizzazz, IBM Docs Presentations also includes slide transitions. Here’s an example screencast of transitions working in a web browser window:
In summary therefore I hope you can see that IBM Docs brings something new to the world of browser-based office productivity. It gives you the familiar controls and features virtually all of us use on a daily basis but removes the headache of trying to manage the input of others into your work. By working socially and collaborating on the content you can use IBM Docs to smoothly prepare for that big presentation, or review that document in a way which I believe is unique in the market.
Thanks for sticking with me on this two-part series, I hope that you’ve found this look at IBM Docs useful and would love to hear your comments.