As I pointed out in an earlier post about Microsoft’s new Office Web Apps, there is an undeniable push towards storing document data online (in the cloud). This puts traditional Office suites in a bit of a sticky situation. They do retain a superior interface for editing documents, but they lack a built-in way to share documents with others.
OpenOffice, the popular free office suite, is able to solve this problem through the extensions made available for it. One of these extensions is made by a company called SMEStorage, which specializes in “mutli-cloud data access.” SMEStorage has the ability to use Google Documents as an online document/file storage, making it easy to access OpenOffice files with multiple computers.
Setting Up SMEStorage
Before you can use SMEStorage, you will need to set it up. This take a little more effort than, say, installing a Firefox extension.
You will first need to download the MultiCloud File Manager extension from the OpenOffice.org extension repository and install it. You then must go to the SMEStorage website and register an account with them. At the SMEStorage front page, select “I Want to Use Google Docs.”
Once you have registered, you need to open the MultiCloud File Manager extension in OpenOffice.org. There is a new set of icons in the upper left of the suite. Click on the folder icon furthest to the left.
When you open the extension, you will be asked to enter your login information. This is the username and password that you just created when you registered on the SMEStorage website. Once you have entered that information, click OK. The extension will begin the process of trying to connect to Google Documents.
You will be presented with a second login screen once a connection is established – this is verifying your login information to Google Documents. Enter your information again and press OK. The SMEStorage extension will finish importing your Google Documents information.
Browsing and Creating Google Documents
The browser that displays your Google Documents displays as a tree. Your documents will be located under All Files –> My Google Docs files. To open a file, you simply need to double-click on it. A status window will appear while SMEStorage downloads the information, and the file will then open in OpenOffice.org.
You can edit the document as you would normally, but to save the document you must use the new save icon that was added to OpenOffice.org by the extension. It is next to the new folder icon that was used to open the SMEStorage extension initially. You will be asked if you want to encrypt on the upload or not. This can be handy if you are on an open wireless hotspot and you want to make sure the document is secure. Otherwise, it isn’t usually required.
SMEStorage is a great way to sync up files, but it should be noted that SMEStorage isn’t perfect. SMEStorage uses Google Documents as a storage medium and only a storage medium. The files that you save into Google Documents can not be edited while in Google Documents. This is not a problem, of course, if you have OpenOffice installed on your machines, but it is a unfortunate limitation of this extension. This is apparently to due to some conflict in the way Google Documents handles documents uploaded by third party programs.
You can get around this problem by downloading a document to your computer and then uploading to back to Google Documents with the option to convert the file to the Google Documents format selected.
If you like to use OpenOffice.org and you want to sync files between multiple computers this is an excellent way to do it. SMEStorage provides an excellent service for OpenOffice.org users, and the extension’s integration into OpenOffice.org is smooth.