As a member of the Buzzword community for a couple years, I wanted to post the latest update in my quest for truly satisfying cloud based document system.
I have been using Buzzword for over two years having fallen in love with the beautiful interface, the simplicity (lack of extraneous fluff) and the simple approach to sharing. I have tried to find a way to use Buzzword with my team at work for working on technical documentation and project docs, but have been unable to do so because of two glaring omissions in the application: 1) Styles (which even the in-browser editor provided by this forum supports as I type this post) and 2) images in the header / footer of a doc (my company puts it's logo in document headers).
Despite not being able to use Buzzword for work, I have used it personally for jotting down ideas, outlining documentation for my own projects, and any other documents I wanted to access from any computer. I have waited patiently (and sometimes not so patiently) for the Buzzword product to be upgraded and move forward so that it would be easier to use on my phone, have better searchability, offline syncing, etc.
This weekend, I decided not to keep waiting.
I've also been an Evernote Premium user for about a year. Let's compare observations about the two products:
1) Adobe is a large, established and profitable company with lots of resources. Evernote is a small startup. Adobe probably has littlle priority placed on making their online apps great, Evernote will live or die by the greatness of their one app. Buzzword has seen no significant updates in the last year. Evernote has seen 4 - 5. When it comes to advancing and enhancing their product, I'm placing my bet on Evernote over Buzzword.
2) Evernote has a fantastic iPhone app that lets me type up notes and upload them, as well as pictures, PDFs, sound recordings, etc. It tags and geolocates everything. I can search my entire library of documents on Evernote, including search for text inside pictures and within PDFs. The app syncs the docs offline if I don't have an Internet connection available. Acrobat.com Mobile is a slow, clunky, underpowered iPhone app that Adobe farmed out to a 3rd party. It limits how many pdfs I can create and is not capable of searching within PDFs in my Acrobat.com library. I cannot create new Buzzword docs (or even see Buzzword docs) using the app. It's probably been out for about 6 months now and has been given one minor upgrade. About 60% of the ratings for the app are 1 star ratings (2 star average). Advantage Evernote.
3) Evernote has APIs, Buzzword does not. I use 2 other apps to create specific types of content for my Evernote account and to upload different kinds of files to my Evernote accounts. I cannot use the Acrobat.com app to access Buzzword documents, nor any other app. I can only use Acrobat.com in my desktop browser, and as stated earlier, Buzzword on Acrobat.com is essentially never updated.
Evernote recently added rich text options to create more document-like docs (different fonts, colors, sizes, tables, etc.) These are still not even close to those available in Buzzword, but I have a feeling that within a year, they may get pretty close. On the other hand, Evernote already has offline syncing on my phone and desktop and searchability within PDFs and images, things that have been long requested and ignored in Buzzword.
So, I've decided to take a different approach to my online documents: I'm sacrificing some of the style Buzzword offers in favor of true ubiquity, accessibility, searchability, ease of access and speed. I'm jumping ship from Buzzword and taking a gamble on Evernote.
I will be judging my experiment over the next year based on 1) Do I create more documents in Evernote than I did in Buzzword (early indications seem to indicate I will, by far) 2) How often do I access / use these documents 3) How often do I need to go to some other tool to do something I can't do in Evernote with my documents.
As a parting message, I truly hope that Adobe decides to put some attention and development behind Buzzword. Something that looked and felt like Buzzword, with all of its capabilities (plus styles and images in headers), married with the advantages of Evernote would be a dream come true. Rather than making more and more underdeveloped good ideas (Tables, Presentations, Buzzword, Acrobat.com in general, Story, and even the Flash Player of late) I wish Adobe would make some of the individual good ideas live up to their potential and become a leader in their space.
As much as I like Adobe and Adobe products (I'm an Adobe mega-user), I am sad that they acquired Buzzword and basically killed off development of what would have been an amazing an useful product by now had the original team kept working on it.
I"m curious if anyone else is jumping the Buzzword ship? Or already did so long before me?
Even though I am a premium plus subscriber, I am now looking at other options. I even teach a small course helping others to use Acrobat.com, but I find it difficult to recommend it to anybody at this point. Buzzword is going nowhere. Tables and Presentations still feel beta. Tables is particularly limited. Every time I see that the service will be down for maintenance, I hope for some new features in Buzzword, Tables, and Presentations, but it never happens.
I am really tired of Adobe's watchword: collaboration. Buzzword is great for collaboration, provided that you have a bulleted list of items to share and little else. Unfortunately, Acrobat.com is the bimbo of cloud office suites. It looks hot, but has no depth. It lacks features needed for production, despite its slick interface and collaboration capabilities. As a result, I can now create lame documents and share them with everyone.
I think that the programming demands are such that Adobe will not be able to add more features to the suite. I think the lines of code needed and complexity involved with making a cloud-based office suite are simply too daunting and too expensive. Perhaps OpenOffice and IBM Lotus Symphony are best to use for creation and then I can use Acrobat.com for storage space. Whatever the case, I think Adobe has made it clear that Acrobat.com is not going to advance much more. I do not see spending the money to continue my premium plus subscription when it comes due.
I think Adobe blew it on this product's development.
That's bloody wonderful! Buzzword was great before it was bought out by Adobe. Updated often like Evernote.
Thanks for relaying its existence to me!
Buzzword could be awesome if it had that level of care, as it once did. Every time there is an update, things are often made worse.
I originally came on to complain about the atrocious scrolling. It was bad when it was really slow, but I prefer that to the 3/4 page with one click thing that is happening now.
But that probably will not be dealt with for another 4 to 5 months if that.
I think you are all right with your complaints about basically not enough attention is given to the development of Buzzword. I am also an Evernote user, but I am still caught up with the beauty of Buzzword and will stay around just a little longer. Acrobat, it is way passed time to respond!?!
thanks for the long post as you departed
i must say i was excited and now i'm not
buzzword feels stalled. of course the answer isn't with
microsoft live and their attempt at a mac collaboration tool
but i'm prepared to try an alternative to buzzwod, and wasn't before
if adobe is uncommitted to the former VU team, it can't expect
anymore of its beta users
I am at this moment considering making a change.
I do not have the same needs as you do, mine are simple
I just want to create a professional
document. I cannot get consistant spacing
and my paragraphs are different widths, from one to the next.
No alignments or margin corrections or any other tool has
I just checked in here and saw all of the interesting replies on this thread. I have a couple updated thoughts after a few months using Evernote instead of Buzzword:
1) I'm very happy with Evernote for about 80% of what I used Buzzword for. Specifically, jotting down ideas and putting together outlines for projects that I can access and continue working on anywhere. Evernote has fantastic access from any device and excellent search features, and even basic collaboration / sharing (shared notebooks in Evernote).
2) Evernote does not work for 20% of what I used (or wanted to use) Buzzword for, specifically: nicely laid-out documents and more sophisticated collaboration / sharing. Evernote has the ability to render fully styled / CSSed HTML in the browser-based app, the desktop app, and on my iPhone, but it does not allow editing of this HTML... yet. I have gotten fast and detailed responses from the Evernote team in response to my questions about this and they are working on it, but it may not come for some time.
3) Within the last three months, Evernote has had a couple updates with new features and capabilities in line with its product vision. I check in with Buzzword to find that it continues to have no updates.
Unfortunately, I don't know that Evernote will ever fully be the platform I wished Buzzword would be, because that's not Evernote's core purpose. But I do know that I will continue to use and pay for Evernote into the foreseeable future because it does something useful for me very well, and continues to get better.
As for Buzzword, I realize that I've seen no statement anywhere from Adobe as to what the vision for this product even is. But at this point, based on the comments on this thread from folks like evenintheshower, Scaea, and justsis, it seems that at the present, it is ultimately failing for users as a decent word processor. I always assumed that the vision and roadmap for Buzzword would be based around being a fantastic online word processor -- a cloud-based, browser-based, simplified version of Microsoft Word. But the total stagnation of development, and the irrelevance of the few updates that Buzzword has gotten, seem to show that Adobe has some other, unknown vision for Buzzword. Or more likely, perhaps none at all.
It's really sad - since pretty much everyone on this thread has pointed out that despite years of neglect, Buzzword is still better than most other browser-based Word apps, and there really isn't much in the way of alternatives. It just shows how far ahead of its time it was when VU created it, and makes me wonder how amazing it would have been by now had the original momentum been preserved. Now instead of a fantastic Buzzword app, we have several "gee - that's kind of neat, but not usable for real work" apps: Buzzword, Tables, Presentations, Story, etc.
I've moved on though. I am sticking with apps that do what they do well and don't cause me to spend more than 10% of my time banging my head against a wall or trying to make them work the way I want. I use Word or Pages for professional documents, and Evernote for all my outlines and notes and have very little frustration with that combo.
I'm confident that some day in the near future there will be a really good online Word app that runs anywhere on any device and has great layout, styling and search capabilities (and maybe great sharing / collaboration as well). I just no longer think that app will be Buzzword.
p.s. For an example of a great, focused, web app that does what it does really well and gets regular development, check out this one for making flow charts / diagrams, etc. It's hands-down my favorite way to make charts.
I've been with Buzzword since before Adobe bought it and I thought it had great potential.
Before Adobe, there were updates every six weeks or so. Now it seems like the original team is gone and the product is stagnant. Adobe tried to monetize it and I'm guessing they failed miserably. They should have (and still could) make it a killer word processor that integrates with FrameMaker and InDesign, but that hasn't happened. We've been asking for paragraph styles for 2 years at least! There obviously isn't much manpower devoted to it. Then you have project Rome, which debuted and quickly died. It did similar things and that was even more confusing. My guess is that they keep looking for a way to make money on this, and they way forward isn't clear. Why pay for something when Google Docs is free? Adobe should just develop killer software for free and monetize via another route. They could also drop the price of FrameMake to be competitive with Word and they would have another awesome product, but they seem to lack vision in this area.