MS Word is terrible. And it’s not just Word. It’s OpenOffice, Pages, and all the other programs that were designed to edit documents instead of text — the so-called word processors.

Word processors are designed to conflate the data they manipulate with the representation of that data, to conflate markup and style. They can’t be used for editing text. For a document produced by a word processor, this means a lot of things, all of them negative. Here are a few:

  • It can’t be checked into version control
    • No GitHub, so no collaborative editing
    • No authoritative version
    • It will get lost sooner or later
  • It can’t be published online
    • No good way to distribute it to employees
    • No good way to share it with the world

Cloud word processors like Google Docs overcome the sharing problems, but like their desktop counterparts they allow only one view of the document, and in one place. For a company with any technical chops their use is justifiable only for editing spreadsheets. I worked at a tech consulting company that was addicted to Word, which was a big drain on productivity. They should have been using GitHub and Markdown, but that’s for another post