Why are applications missing some self-evident features?

Today's rant is about online word processing apps and Thunderbird's tasks.

Being a B2B copywriter, almost everything I write—whether brochures, websites, direct mail pieces, localisations—at some point goes to the client for comments and approval. Traditionally the copy is a word processing file, which circulates in different parts of the client's organisation and eventually returns to me with corrections and comments.

Editing and comments are easy in major word processing apps like Microsoft Word or OpenOffice.org. In the cloud, however, it's another story. Neither Google Docs or Zoho include reasonable "track changes" functions. Everyone in the collaboration network can of course edit the file and upload their version to whatever central repository the team is using, but it is important for me to see what was changed and read comments on the copy.

The best application I've found so far is Writeboard, which does a good job of showing changes and comparing versions, but only allows comments separately below the text window.

As many web workers are dealing with text, I'm surprised no online application includes these all-important features.

Another missing feature that keeps annoying me daily is that there's no usable way of linking to a file stored on your own computer from Mozilla Thunderbird's task manager. Clicking on the "Attach" icon in a task brings up a dialogue asking you to "Enter a web page, or document location". The web page part is easy, but the dialogue doesn't include a browsing function for finding a file on your hard disk. You will have to make a long detour through Windows Explorer, and if your file is within even a simple folder structure, the path is so long it is impossible to remember and too long to be entirely visible (which effectively makes it impossible to select and copy).

With an otherwise excellent application, I'm amazed that such an important feature has been left out, forcing me to use another task manager. I'm currently using FruitfulTime TaskManager—which isn't perfect either as it doesn't mark overdue tasks in any way.

Can you suggest other solutions? Are you facing these issues as well?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published / Required fields are marked *