Document vs Web Document

General | July 18, 2007 | 2 min read

Many people consider online applications as a replica of offline applications and documents created using these online apps are similar to the ones created using the offline counterparts. They are NOT the same. Let me explain.

Documents created using offline apps lack additional information, meta data and context which their online counterparts provide which makes online docs more valuable than the current documents most people use.

So, what are the specific advantages of web documents against traditional documents? Here are a few…

  • Mobility
  • Sharing & Collaboration
  • Presence & Communication
  • Auto-Versioning, Auto-save
  • Access & Edit History etc

Lets look at each of these.


This needs no explanation for web documents. Because the documents are on the web, they can be accessed from any location/device.

Sharing & Collaboration

This is one of the key advantages of web documents. You can simply share your document without having to attach. This way, you need not worry about the software availability (often the same version of software) for reading the document at the other end. Also, web docs can be collaboratively edited by multiple users at the same time without having to go thorough multiple email threads and merging of contents across multiple versions.

Presence & Communication

When a document is shared, online applications provide the presence information of the users to whom the document is shared. If the other users are online, you can instantly start a chat session enabling instant communication

Auto-Versioning, Auto-save

Documents evolve. When a document is created/edited by multiple users, it goes through multiple iterations and it is always useful when these documents are auto-saved and auto-versioned based on the user. You get this by default with web documents and more importantly a web document captures all this information permanently.

Access & Edit History etc

Web Documents also have information on when and how many times users accessed/edited the documents etc. This is useful information if you want to know if other users looked at the document you shared etc.

When an online document is exported in standard formats, all this useful information has to be stripped from its native form and delivered for its offline usage loosing useful information. But as more and more document reside online, the document formats become irrelevant.

The presentation below talks about some of these concepts.

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  1. Luke

    I agree with your opinion, but don’t you think it’s too complicated to handle document in such way? And it is practical for ordinary people?

  2. Luke

    I agree with your opinion, but don’t you think it’s too complicated to handle document in such way? And it is practical for ordinary people?