Google this week released an update to Writely, it’s online word processing application. The site still has a beta label but the overall feel and operation of the system seems to be much better than when I tried it last spring.

For no cost, you get the basic functionality of word processing software plus the ability to allow anyone to see or collaborate on your documents.

Files also have their own RSS feed so someone could be notified automatically when it’s been updated.

Another interesting feature is that you can use Writely as an editor for your blog. That’s how this entry was written and posted.

I’m not going to give up using ecto for my regular posting (Google still has a few bugs to work out).

But this could evolve into a nice alternative for someone who doesn’t want to pay for an application, uses different computers all the time, or wants a better interface than the one offered by most blogging software.

Writely probably doesn’t offer enough power to satisfy someone who’s writing the Great American Novel. However, for our teachers and students who barely use 20% of the features in Word, this could be a great alternative.

And did I mention that you don’t have to send annual payments to Redmond?

writely, google, word processor