I was out and about today and had my Kindle Fire with me because I had some reading I needed to do while I waited for people I was chauffeuring around to finish their errands. I decided to do a light edit on a book chapter submitted by one of the contributors to more upcoming book, Secrets of the LiveCode Masters. It’s on Google Drive, so I opened my Chrome browser on the Kindle, found and opened the doc and went into Edit mode.
Now, I’ve tried using the Kindle Fire text editor before. It is a weird app. It uses a guess-ahead approach to text entry and the guessing is sometimes pretty darned good. I’ve found myself being able to type long sentences by typing only the first two or three characters of a word. Sometimes, it feels like the guess-ahead algorithm has some intelligence built in as the word(s) it suggests seem particularly appropriate to the word I just finished typing. If I type slowly (hard for me to do; I’m a really fast typist even on these virtual keyboards), I can often snap off sentence or two that makes me feel like this is in some ways a faster way of editing than flat-out typing.
But then something strange happens and the editor goes into spasms from which it seems impossible to extricate myself. This happens when I start to type a word, realize a typo, backspace to fix it, and then find myself with a string of gibberish that I can’t delete or replace.
So let’s say I’m trying to type “project” and instead I manage to enter “projet” and press the space bar. I backspace to replace the “t” and accidentally hit a “j”. Now I have the “word” “projej”. I backspace again. I get to the first “j” and type an “e” and what do I see in my editor? “projejee”. Huh? So, I backspace through the entire word and start over. I get to the previous word, “the”, hit the spacebar, and now I have “thep” where I used to have “the.” WTF?
This keeps getting worse and worse. The more I try to fix the word, the longer and more incorrect the string becomes. I’ve spent several minutes trying to fix the problem; it’s not just that the typo is in the way, it’s that the editor seems perversely determined to keep creating new variations of the misspelling. And because the editor is learning new words from me as it goes along, I end up with meaningless words in my dictionary, which I must then remove from the vocabulary (a completely opaque process).
There don’t appear to be any replacement text editors for the Fire that allow editing of Google Docs with the possible exception of OfficeSuite Pro, but the free version doesn’t appear to support external storage so I can’t test it and I’m not about to plunk down $15 to see if it works.
This editor is so bad it makes the Kindle Fire counter productive for office work. Too bad.