Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Docs research panel beats Zemanta gadget

Google Docs now has a research pane available while you're writing.   Basically this is a quick way to access google-search results.

To use it:

  • Select a word
  • Right-click the word
  • Choose Research from the tools menu.

Or just select the word and hit the key-combo ( Ctrl+Alt+R on Windows or Cmd+Alt+R on Mac) if you think mice are evil time-wasters.

This is a far better than the Zemanta gadget that was offered to Blogger users back in 2010; research is done only on the words you want researched, not everything that you're writing. My experience was that the latter approach  slowed my machine down horribly, and mostly added no value because it just distracted me from what I wanted to write. Other people seemed to feel the same way, and for a while How to disable Zemanata in blogger was popular reading.

Personally, I'm not sure research-pane will be enough to convince me to write my posts in Docs and load them to Blogger from there: a lot of my research is about "how does Blogger handle this", which I can only find out my testing it.  But it will be a very handy tool for bloggers in some niches.

A couple of things to be aware of:  the pane  offers you imagees that you can "drag into your document", and it add footnotes saying where the image has come from. But the last time I loooked, documents loaded from Docs to Blogger didn't maintain footnotes. And even so, if the image is copyright, you can't get permission to use it in your blog just by linking to the source.

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