Can it replace Google Docs? – Cryptpad review

I really enjoy when a new product comes out and tries to replace something giant. Now, most of them fail, but at least we enjoy some variety and options. We use Google Docs, even when free Office softwares like LibreOffice and Calligra exist. While there are many reasons one uses Docs for editing their documents, the company Google isn’t really something you can trust. Introducing Cryptpad, not something super new and super feature rich, but it has something to it I like.

Why people use Google Docs

Google nails Material UI and also nails user experience. Thanks to the fact that it constantly collects data about what people use, how much, etc. It’s a multibillion dollar company. What do you expect from them? The reason ‌most people use Google Docs is collaboration. Since it’s a document editor, it’s easy to put up as a web app. That way, it’s accessible to more people. Even MS Office has an online editor. If you have a google account, you just login with it and start creating a document. You can invite others or share a link with limited permission or full access. The document stays saved on your drive and you can access them from anywhere.

Google also integrates many minor features that come handy for some people. Calendars, Keep and we can access Tasks from the sidebar of Google Docs. I don’t use any of them, as I would like to use my handy native apps. But for some people, these features are essential. But let’s be honest, even if you like Google Products, you know they are a privacy nightmare. Google just never cared, because it’s free and when stuff is free, you pay with parts of yourself. Here, it’s your personal data. You remember the quote from Rick Morty, when Summer says, “Let’s just say you don’t pay… with money.”

So take some Cryptpads

Cryptpad has some cool stuff on its own. You get everything basic Docs has, with some additional apps like Kanban, Poll, Code and Whiteboard. Every app contains collaboration features and chat options. So you can share your thoughts while you are editing.

Now, it’s not here to replace Google’s Document mountain. But for providing a privacy friendly and fair alternative of Google Docs and other proprietary collaboration apps for free. It is also encrypted, which is something Google Docs lacks. So they store files encrypted and with storing security. The encryption and decryption happens in the client side, so the server does not know the contents of the documents. And this is a big thing. In fact, it’s the only thing that sets it apart from Docs and OnlyOffice online.

Cryptpad features

  • You will have access and use the main modules of CryptPad, which include: CryptDrive, Rich text, Code, Presentation, Poll, Kanban, Whiteboard, and Todo and Sheet.
  • You will have access to several capabilities including chatting, editing documents and files, importing and exporting documents and files, viewing the history or user lists for documents, files, and chats. Some additional capabilities are listed below:
  • You can view and download documents and files shared by other users.
  • Store visited pads on the browser so that you have easy access to these pads and can open them there at a later time.
  • You can create a profile and chat with contacts.
  • Manage folders, shared folders, templates and tags
  • You’ll have access your CryptDrive everywhere with your user account, particularly in the case that it is publicly available over the internet
  • Store pads on your CryptDrive and more.

Also, it is an open source software. So you can pull the source and make changes. You can also spin up your own instance for highest security. I think you already got it. Now, I’ll be going through each of the apps and show you what they feature.

Rich Text editor

It’s like Docs, but with no Docs stuff to it. It’s ‌different from a Document editor, yet it works like one. So there are no editing specific features you will miss, but it definitely lacks some bells and whistles that Google Docs has. But this is actually an agreeable thing for me, as they are not important in my case.

I ‌like how minimal the UI is. I ‌like Minimalism, as it helps me focus on what I have in my hand instead of distracting me with complex UI elements. You got a single row for Adjustment settings and tools. On the right, you have a panel that shows collaborators who joined you for co-editing. Yes, just like Google Docs.

Nothing much. You can add tables, math functions, and images. You can share documents via URL so they can view or edit or both. Basic stuff. Oh, you can also add a password for your document, so only people with the password can view it. It’s a great tool for keeping away unattended access.

Now, I would really love to see some changes ‌crucial to me or to the most. First, I would like to see the option to export to DOCX format. They have DOC export, but not DOCX. I would also like to see a PDF export option and support for ODF. I hope they will soon add these crucial things to Cryptpad.

Sheets

This is the only fully fledged app Cryptpad has. And you can see the obvious reason‌. It is an OnlyOffice Sheets. So why didn’t they just add the full suite? I think it’s not a good idea to replace the current Document editor, as OnlyOffice is ‌messy in terms of UI. And it’s heavy. Cryptpad wants to provide a dang easy interface, and they did it well.

It is OnlyOffice‌, we can find very little flaws in it. So I think I’ll move onto the next app.

Presentation

I’m very disappointed in this. Why Cryptpad? It’s the worst presentation app in the history of Office applications. Either replace it with OnlyOffice, or add a new one. I can’t even look at this one. Poorly made and I rate it zero banana. Come on team Cryptpad, you can make it better.

Whiteboard

Another nope, this is very poorly made, and it really messes the UI up. You can’t erase anything, there is not so much control, no layers and embed options. Not even notes. Zero banana for this too.

Kanban and Poll is OK. Because they require little functionalities to work. Thumbs up for adding these. Code is also OK. You need little for sharing polls and codes.

So can it replace Google Docs?

For text editing? Yes, for some people. Spreadsheets? Definitely, yes as it is powered by OnlyOffice. Presentation and Whiteboard is a big downer. I’m very disappointed at what they are providing. I suggest using OnlyOffice as a Presentation app in Cryptpad. And use AWW for the whiteboard. But I don’t think it’s a big deal, as it is providing all these for free. And remember, I mean it to be a privacy friendly and secure option to store document files and collaborate.

For those who want an alternative with the same feature as Cryptpad, they can try Arcane Docs. Arcane office is an online office suite that runs on blockchain. Now you can get all your office experience and high privacy at the same time. Arcane office offers a simple UI and experience and keeps your files secure on decentralized databases.

Arcane office has Docs for editing and exporting .doc documents, Sheets to create and edit spreadsheets, photos to upload and manage photos and Marks. Although no presentation. Arcane office provides all the ‌features presented in any other normal office programs. But it is simple and secure.

Another great alternative would be using Cryptpad with OnlyOffice. OnlyOffice too, has a vast amount of feature and it can be used in your own server. I dont really like the document editor in it. But I really love other parts of OnlyOffice. If you want to spin your own instance of Cryptpad, you can use docker. CryptPad’s GitHub repository includes all the necessary tools for building a CryptPad-Docker image. Once you’ve created a CryptPad container using Docker, we can self-manage the container and let Docker compose handle it for us.

What Cryptpad.fr offers

If you don’t want to run it on your instance. You can use it free from Cryptpad.fr. Signup to save your files on the cloud and access from anywhere. Your password is a passphrase that is used as a key to encrypt and decrypt files. Cryptpad.fr offers free 1GB drive space for your files. You can buy paid upgrades from them at a decent price.

5 Euro for a basic 5GB space, 10 Euro for 20GB and unlimited pads, and 15 Euro will provide you with quick support from the Cryptpad support team within 1 business day. I’m glad they provided the option.

Conclusion

While I ‌like the Text editor and the Sheets app, I definitely find Cryptpad a bit lacking. But the principal theme of this software is to provide privacy, encryption, and document security. And it truly wins at this. I love Cryptpad so much and I think you would too. But they should really fix the presentation and whiteboard app. If you are into private secure applications, you can check out this article where I list some of the coolest blockchain based applications. Thank you for reading, leave a comment, and have a great day.

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