Since we rolled out the beta version of Treaty two weeks ago, we’ve already signed up a number of testers and have received some great feedback so far. But one question that has come up a few times is the difference between Treaty and Google Drive (previously known as Google Docs). After all, they both allow you to share and edit text and documents. However, as I touched on in last week’s post, Treaty integrates directly with our customers’ web applications, so that the application’s users don’t have to leave to work on their documents.
That said, Google just announced that it will integrate third party web apps more deeply into Google Drive. While this announcement may seem like it makes Google Drive easier to use and more similar to Treaty, that isn’t really the case. I did some digging into what exactly this announcement means and found out that it doesn’t actually change that much about why Treaty is different from Google Drive. It seems that this integration is still pretty one-way; as a third-party app owner, you can integrate your app with Drive, but you still can’t integrate Drive into your app. In practice this means that from within Drive a user of a third-party application, such as the image editor Aviary, will have an “Open with…” option on image files that says “Aviary for Google Drive.” The user is then directed to Aviary, where he edits his image and saves it back to Google Drive. In addition, from the Drive “Create” (New) menu the user can choose to create a new file in a third-party application, which again will take him out of Drive, to the other application. This may work for users who have all their files in Google Drive already, but it’s not that helpful to web application developers who want their customers to be able to edit documents natively.
My reading of this development is that the main benefits of Treaty versus Google Drive continue to exist. It is still the case that users of your app must leave your app to access files stored in Google Drive and must still have a Google account and have previously uploaded docs to Drive. My interpretation is that it is also still true that documents uploaded to a third-party application would not be accessible to Google Drive, whereas they are with Treaty.
So what does all this mean? Well, if you’re an app developer, that Treaty is the obvious choice (but I might be a little biased). Joking aside, I do think it is clear that Treaty brings a lot of benefits that Google simply doesn’t have—namely that documents can be opened and edited in the application without having to leave the site. Why not take it for a spin and see for yourself?