Word Processors

Word Processors

A Lesson by Edgar A Stonehill

Illustrates how to use the version control features in certain word processors


OO Writer (OpenOffice Writer) and MS Word 2003

For those of you who are unfamiliar with OO Writer, it is a free word processor. I will spare you the debate between OpenOffice.org and Microsoft Office.  If you are curious you can read more about them here.

My plug is for OO. The version I'm using is 2.4 (comparatively old).

MS Word 2003 is the last version of Word before Microsoft got rid of menus.

1) Open a new document and save it.
2) Start typing.
3) When you want to save it do so.
4) When you get to a stopping point...
Click File
Click Versions...
Click Save New Version button
Type in notes about this version

(Example: Starting a story about a chase. Don't have everything planned out, so I'll need to try out lots of variations. This is essentially my base. I'm excited about how this opens up.)

Notice that the version is saved by date and time, not by name.

Click the Close button to return to the document

5) Start writing some more.
6) Repeat steps 3 & 4 whenever necessary.

Thats it, you have successfully implemented a version control system.

I'm going to allow you the chance to discover on your own how to:
1) restore
2) delete
3) compare versions for differences

A note about file sizes:
I know space is cheap so why bother talking about file sizes.  Again, this is more significant for large projects.  The main message is that using the version control tool uses up significantly less space than using multiple copies of the same document (albeit each document has subtle variations from the next).  

A note about backups:
Using version control your backups should go much faster (see previous note). Also, you will only need to access your backups when you loose data.  It means that backups are for backups.

Google Docs

If you are a writer and are using Google Docs, there are two things you should know.

1) Version control is automated.

2) My own personal understanding is that under the terms of service you have the right to publish, distribute, make all sorts of money off your work that resides on Google docs... And so does Google.  While to my knowledge, Google is currently a good steward of other people's work, I am skeptical of any corporation being capable of upholding this reputation forever. As a result I don't use Google docs for works of creativity. You can do whatever you choose. It is worth giving Google Docs a try if you already have an account and have files on it just to see how it works.

1) open an existing document, preferably one that has been edited several times
2) Click File
3) See Revision History

My understanding is that you are unable to comment or make notes about each revision.

Again I will leave the restoration of documents, deleting revisions, and comparison of documents up to the individual to learn through exploration.

MS Word 2007
Sorry Microsoft removed this feature.  I suggest OpenOffice

**UPDATE 7/7/10:
Even though Microsoft did remove version control from Word, MS Word 2007 and 2010 does have native integration with Sharepoint. This makes it a client-server version control system.

To obtain Sharepoint you must have a computer running Windows Server (at least 2003). You then need to install Windows Sharepoint Services, which is a free add on. I have no clue on how to successfully install either one of those.

Ultimately, by detailing how complicated Microsoft has made version control, I am again plugging OpenOffice.
**End of Update**

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Added on February 11, 2010
Last Updated on July 8, 2010

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Edgar A Stonehill
Edgar A Stonehill

My work is self published in booklets . Each week a new piece appears on my website http://edgarastonehill.com If you are interested in obtaining a copy of one of these booklets please send me a m..