Google Docs is an excellent tool for collaboration or keeping your documents on the cloud with the ability to manage them on the go. However, as I wrote in this article Google Docs' desktop integration is very poor (in fact there is no integration at all) even if you are using Google Drive.
As I stated clearly the problem is if you have created documents from Google Docs they are saved in .gdoc format which can't be opened by LibreOffice. And if you upload .odt files to Google Docs without converting then Google Docs can't open it. So you have to convert and upload/download the same files over and over again between Google Docs and LibreOffice if you want to be able to work on it. It's extremely painful.
The Ideal Solution
The ideal solution would be that I work on my files in LibreOffice and they are automatically synced to Google Doc (in the format which Google Docs understand). So, it doesn't matter which interface I use (LibreOffice or Google Docs) to edit the file. Both copies (local copy created by LibreOffice) and online copy uploaded to Google Docs stay in sync.
I think I have explained the problem very now, now let's look at the first solution.
The Final Solution: LibreOffice Extension
LibreOffice has an excellent extension which allows a user do exactly the same. You can access the files on Google Docs from within LibreOffice, download a local version, work on it, and keep it synced with Google Docs. At the same time you can create new files and 'upload' them to Google Docs from within LibreOffice.
How To Install The Extension
You need to install two packages in order to enable the extension 'libreoffice-java-common' and 'openjdk jre'. You can easily install these packages from the repos. Once these two packages are installed head over to the extension page and download this extension.
Now open LibreOffice > Tools > Extension Manager > Add and then browse the extension, which you downloaded on the hard drive, and enable it. Once enabled close LO and open again.
Now, you will see a box 'Add-On 1' floating. You can pin it in the menu bar.
This extensions allows data sync with other services as well; here we are talking only about Google Docs. If you look at the box, the first two options are for Google Docs. If you want to access the files already on Google Docs select the 'Import from Google Docs option' which will open this window.
You will need to enter your Google Docs username and password. Now, click on the Get List option to see the documents on Google Docs. You can explore the Configuration option which also allows you to change the theme of the extension. The most important options are:
1. You can chose the location where you want to save the files.
2. You can choose autoupdate and 'Convert documents to Google Docs format' option. This option will enable you to work on the same file from within Google Docs' web interface without having to convert the file manually.
How To Use?
If you want to work on files already on Google Docs, first click on 'Get List' option which will show all the documents on Google Docs. Now select the file you want to work on. If you want to sync the file with Google Docs just select the 'Export to Google Docs' option. This option also works if you want to upload a new/local file to Google Docs. Just make sure to select the 'convert to Google Docs' option so that you can edit this file from Google Docs also.
I have been using this extension for a while and it has bring an end to the problems I had with Google Docs' desktop integration. This is an excellent tool to bridge the gap between Google Docs and the desktop. Give it a try and share your thoughs about the extension.
In the next article I will talk about how to run Libreoffice from within the Chrome browser or Chroembook.