A couple of years ago Adobe acquired an online word processor called BuzzWord from a company called Virtual Ubiquity in order to further enhance their collection of online applications. The web-based word processor was built using the Flex framework which is part of the Adobe product line and targeted at creating rich internet applications (RIAs) that can be deployed to the web or desktop through the Flash and AIR runtime environments. So how user-friendly and effective is BuzzWord as an online word processor?
Well, at first glance when you login to BuzzWord you will notice that Adobe has obviously taken great care when planning out a slick user interface to enhance the experience of their application. Once you login using your Adobe ID, you are presented with the home screen showing you an overview of available documents. Using the main menu of the home screen you are also able to filter the documents alphabetically or by author, time last changed, size (which means pages rather than file size) and role. Initially when you start using BuzzWord you will probably not have that many documents to manage but the filter options will become very helpful as your collection of documents starts to grow, especially filtering by author if you are sharing documents between friends or colleagues.
Okay, so you have found the document you want to edit, it’s opened up into full view and you are ready to start typing. Around the document the menu and submenu bars have been updated to provide controls to handle fonts, paragraphs, rules, lists, tables, images, version control, and comments. All of which makes for a pretty comprehensive arsenal to choose from when writing your documents. As you start to type in your document the live preview is updated allowing you to see how text wraps around images or tables instantly. One extra that I have not noticed in many of the other online word processors is that BuzzWord also shows your content in a page view so it is a little easier to see how your content will look when it is printed out or exported from Buzzword.
The final step for BuzzWord is to package your document into something you can print or share. The export options currently include PDF, DOC, XML, RTF, ZIP, TXT, ODT and EPUB, which should be enough to cover most situations. I’ve tested exporting to Word from BuzzWord and it does a pretty good job of keeping formatting intact, even headers and footers were converted correctly into the exported version.
Overall, I think BuzzWord is a great online word processor and the fact that it has built in support for version control makes it a great way to manage documents between different people. Best of all, it’s free!