Post-PC does not mean no PC

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By Daniel O. Escasa

OK, so we’ve agreed that a post-PC device is all you need for simple tasks such as reading email, browsing the Web, or Internet messaging.

In other words, it’s fine for?consuming?content, not so good for creating it ? notwithstanding 1) my persistence in writing this blog on my phone and 2) iPad users’ preference to use their iPads to write mail.

But for heavy-dutywork ? e.g., large text documents ? there’s nothing like the traditional PC. It’s not just about the keyboard or the display, the more important thing is large-document handling.

Some of these large-document features, I listed down last week:

  • Style sheets ? both for paragraph and page styles;
  • Automated page numbering;
  • Automated outline numbering.

Speaking of style sheets, they’re useful not only for large documents but also for sets of short documents that should have a consistent look ? e.g., office memos, newsletters, minutes of meetings, etc.

Do yourself a favor: if you’re creating a document with paragraphs with different attributes, define paragraph styles.

At the very least, use the pre-defined styles. A modern word processor such as LibreOffice Writer even has a handy drop-down for paragraph styles.

A side story: a friend was watching me use LibreOffice Writer, setting a paragraph’s?margins with the ruler bar, defining a new paragraph style based on that paragraph’s attributes, then applying the style on the succeeding paragraphs.

Once she picked her jaw off the table, she said she thought she was watching a magic show.

Aside from paragraphs, style sheets can also apply to pages. Again, if your document contains at least different page styles, define page styles using style sheets instead of setting styles for individual pages.

Aside from style sheets, other office suite features for large-document handling are the following:

  • Auto-generation of table of contents;
  • References and cross-references (e.g., ?see section 3, page 25? ? both section number and page number are fields that the app updates as needed);
  • Auto-generation of indices;
  • Auto-generation of bibliography;
  • Master documents.

OK, those are my campfire stories, what are yours?

The more important question is whether a so-called post-PC has what it takes to handle large documents, and the question comes in two parts.

First, can a Web-based word processor handle large documents?

Based on my experience with what is now the Docs component of Google Drive, it does offer style sheets, albeit limited, and only for paragraphs. Far as I can tell, you can’t auto-generate a table of contents or an index.

Second, does Android or iOS have apps that can handle large documents?

Not likely, although I have to admit that I looked only at the free apps. Still, the LibreOffice Windows install file is over 200MB. Even if an Android or iOS version can be trimmed down in half, that’s still about twice the size of the larger Android apps.

Bottom line is that a full-blown office suite would be too large for most Android devices.

In either case, you can use your choice of mini-office suite (including Google Docs) to create as many small documents as needed (e.g., chapters or even sections), upload them to your PC, then create a master document to combine them.

See? Even in the post-PC era, the PC is not dead, and is not likely to go away in our lifetime.

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