WebWorkerDaily (which I read and love for the inspiration it gives to tech nomads) has an article today about how Zoho is offering an offline mode for document editing and how this is great and how it's lame that Google docs doesn't have this feature.
I started to leave a comment for them but 1) their comment system ate my comment and 2) I wanted to make a picture to explain my point which I can't insert into their comments.
Complexity of Medium and Value in Editing On The Web
This feels pretty intuitive to me, but apparently it's not that intuitive since Zoho didn't figure it out (and they're smart).
So, at the top left are situations like basic email, basic text editing. Think about your 10 year old kid writing a paper for school. If she uses Microsoft Word to do that it's a waste of time and money. No one will argue the money aspect, but online document editing will be faster in terms of his time since it is simpler to learn and do what she needs.
In the middle imagine something like a spreadsheet for keeping track of your expenses or for adding up and assigning costs on a trip among a group of friends. If you use an online spreadsheet anyone can add to it and you get the sharing benefits. However, if you're a spreadsheet jockey it's tedious to use the online editors and you are prohibited from more complex capabilities built into desktop applications (monte carlo analysis? macros?).
At the bottom right imagine drawing tools like Adobe or Gimp or Inkscape and video editing. Editing high-definition video over the web? It's going to be a while (and a revolution or two in bandwidth and HTML UI) before everyday people will do that. Sure, when you upload to revver you pick your thumbnail in a nice web UI, but 100% of revver users are doing some sort of off-line editing before uploading because...
Operating system native tools are going to provide better UI/Interaction than browser based tools for at least another 5 years. As long as that's the case, we might as well take advantage of the off-line status and simply let the web provide the "not as good but available from any networked computer" features that it does. Zoho would have been much better off spending their time improving integration with cross platform open source desktop publishing applications (i.e. OpenOffice.org)
Offline mode for Google Docs
Offline features of Googles Docs are already available for free via File > Export As OpenOffice.org and Export as a ton of other things (html, Microsoft Office format, etc.).