January 21, 2009

Documents To Go: A New Start?

Filed under: Groundwork — mikecane @ 1:53 pm


I’ll tell anyone who ever brings up the subject how much I hate Documents To Go.

It’s a hatred the software earned!

I was using a Palm TE at the time and decided to combine several long Memos into one document so I could have proper bold and italic formatting instead of the pathetic *bold* and *italics* of Memos. Plus, some real fonts! (Times looked very nice on that 320×320 screen!)

Also, I put a half-megabyte text file directly into DTG itself and formatted that too.

Imagine my growing horror as after each sync, each document would lose all that wonderful formatting and look worse than the original Memos (because now even the old asterisks were gone!).

Documents To Go cost me work, cost me time.

That equals Great Hatred.

So I was recently surprised to get an email from someone at DataViz, in response to a Comment I left at Palm Infocenter:

Hey Mike,

I’m Jason; I work in marketing/product development at DataViz. I was checking out an article at PalmInfoCenter about our plans for the Pre and I noticed you seem less than excited. In fact I believe your words were:

“If D2G were a person bleeding in the street, I wouldn’t dial 911. I’d find a knife and stab it to death.”

Always good to get in touch with a fan J

Anyway, needless to say I find it upsetting that our software has failed you in such a way that it would cause you to cast your civic responsibilities aside and take an innocent life! And I think it goes without saying that if we lost formatting in everyone’s documents as you described, we would have been out of business pretty quickly rather than being bundled on Palms devices for 10 years and now bundled on most of RIM’s new devices.

So, I’d love to know more about what led to this and if there’s anything I can do (or we as a company can do) to make you happier (or at least happy enough to quell your murderous rage). Some questions that come to mind:

What versions have you used?

What type of formatting was lost?

On what device(s) were you using Documents To Go?

If you’re not interested in getting back to me, I guess it suffices to say I’m sorry that you had so much trouble with Documents To Go and I hope you’ve found a solution that meets your needs.



I replied with the information I supplied at the beginning of this post.

In reply, I got:

Hey Mike,

I’m not trying to counter anything and I’m not going to try to tell you you’re wrong; that’s not why I emailed you. When I see people say such negative things about our software it bothers me and I wanna know why they said it and what we can do to make it better. Some people just like to complain…some have valid issues and concerns. I appreciate you taking the time to get back to me.

And I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t doubt that you lost formatting with that device and that version of our software. The TE came with Documents To Go v. 6 (originally released in late 2003). That version would ONLY maintain formatting if the file was synced with the original computer where it was created. It was a bit of a limbo period for us because people were starting to get files in other ways on their handhelds (email, Bluetooth, sd card, etc). If you transferred files in any of those ways or tried to edit advanced formatting that wasn’t displayed on the device, you’d lose the formatting (for example if you had a table, word art, checkboxes, etc it might have shown up on the handheld as a little question mark…we’d maintain all of that formatting if you don’t anything to that little question mark on the handheld and continued syncing with the same desktop, but if you deleted it or moved it or something formatting would probably be lost).

We’re now on version 11 of Documents To Go and we use a totally different technology called InTact. We support the files in their native format on the phone; there’s no translation so it makes it easier to maintain the formatting and much less likely that you’ll run into problems no matter how you transfer the file to and from the Palm.

You’re obviously entitled to your opinion and I’m glad you’ve given me the opportunity to hear about your issues and give you our side of the story (I much prefer talking to customers personally rather than bickering back and forth in a forum). If you’re still using a Palm (I would guess that you are since you’re so vocal on a Palm centric site) you may want to give one of our newer versions a try and see if it works better for you. If you want to give it a try let me know what device you have and I’ll hook you up.

I didn’t know, for one, it was now up to version 11.

Second, I didn’t know about the change in technology behind it.

I’m not going to try DTG on my LifeDrive — because overall, the LifeDrive has been (and still is!) a pretty miserable experience in itself! — but I think when I get a Pre, I’ll give DTG another shot.

Let this exchange from DataViz act as an example to other companies about how to do business!

Thanks much, Jason, for bringing this to my attention.


  1. 99% of [bleeps] are due to user error.

    Comment by Gekko — January 28, 2009 @ 1:02 pm | Reply

  2. I let Cliff’s Comment go unmolested because he’s a fellow writer.

    Your Comment I bleeped, because you’re just a crank.

    There was no user error involved on my part — except for hitting the Sync button and expecting everything to remain formatted.

    I’ll give DTG another shot with the Pre. I still have a need for long, formatted documents.

    Comment by mikecane — January 28, 2009 @ 1:28 pm | Reply

  3. It’s amazing how rarely this actually happens. It’s good to see from a company taking the initiative to go out and solve the issues people are bitching about on forums. The world needs a lot more companies like datavis. And I can tell you from experience with both, the new versions are a world away from the ones you used. Documents to go is way better than Microsoft’s own mobile office suite today.

    Comment by Realitista — January 28, 2009 @ 5:12 pm | Reply

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