Microsoft Office 365
While we can use installed versions of Microsoft Office, we also have the option to use the online or mobile versions. However, these typically offer a subset of features, being a less robust app. An O365 subscription includes all of them and using a browser to open a file in the desktop program takes a button click. It is fairly seamless to transfer files and folders between devices once we’ve synched then.
They presumably do robust backups, but if not, the files are also stored locally via Microsoft’s OneDrive, which means that, provided the files are synching properly, we have the latest with our device even if we don’t have an internet connection. And if we change the files, then the next time we’re connected, they will synch.
There are many apps included beyond just the word processor and spreadsheet programs (nearly thirty as of this writing). O365 has the advantage of being unlikely to go away anytime soon. One feature of Word that I use heavily is the “Navigation Pane.” We can use heading styles to create a hierarchy within our document, then easily collapse or expand it, and jump to a heading by clicking on it. It’s only available in the full, installed version of Word, which is one reason why I work there whenever possible.
O365 has an annual cost. Depending on what we purchase, it may include additional benefits, like the ability to have an email domain. This means that if we have a website, such as randyellefson.com, we also have an email address like email@example.com so that we look more professional than using a Gmail one, for example; we can also add multiple addresses. If we’re selling books or games, we’re in business and this can be deducted as a business expense. These are not world building concerns but ones for our career.
This is what I personally use for not only world building, but for stories, email, calendars, and more. I just log in to O365 via the browser and access everything stored there; I keep many files out of O365 because they’re either personal or seldom needed.
My working experience in a day can be like this:
- Before going to work, via my laptop, I update a file, which autosaves.
- At work, I open the file via the browser, see my morning changes, and add more.
- While waiting in line for my lunch order, I pull up the file on the mobile app and add more notes.
- Back at my desk during some downtime, I use the browser version again.
- Once home, I work on my main computer and still have everything I’ve done.
- Before taking my kids to an afterschool activity where I’ll have no internet, I make sure files are synched to a lighter computer, then go, and while they have fun, I work disconnected.
- At home, I ensure a synch and go back to working via my main laptop.
- At bedtime, the kids are having trouble sleeping so I grab the lighter computer again and work beside them as they doze off.
- I go back downstairs and resume working on the main laptop.
Aside from sometimes having to make sure a device has synched files, this is exactly what I wanted.
One of Google’s biggest selling points is that it’s free. It offers multiple apps online and as mobile ones for a phone or tablet, including word processing and spreadsheets. We can organize our files into folders. They presumably do robust backups. We can also share a file or entire directory with someone, such as a collaborator. We can download entire folders to our computer, then store them offsite if desired, so manual backups are an option. I haven’t liked the fonts and, since Microsoft Word is my main program, converting a Google file to Word produces poor results until I manually fix it, so I stopped using this a while back.
World Building Sites
Multiple sites have been created to help world builders create and store their notes. As variations exist between them and we’re not diving into each, only general observations are here. For the most up-to-date list, google “world building sites.”
These sites are accessible from any device via login. Few if any have a mobile app and therefore, trying to use them via a small device’s browser may be unappealing. We’re unlikely to know their hosting practices, such as whether it’s hosted in their basement or at a professional hosting company. The ability to download our data may not exist, and if it does, we’d have to investigate what format it’s in. Can we easily port it to another platform?
Some sites provide writing prompts to help inspire invention. While this is good, that inspiration can come in many other ways that don’t pose risks. These sites propose to help with world building, and while they offer advice, that pales in comparison to the depth that books (including this one) offer. Some provide the ability to integrate items for an interactive experience for an audience, which may become of interest if it catches on with them. Until then, no one is expecting it and it might be good to store some amount of material for our fans to enjoy but keep our main files elsewhere.