Jolicloud (news, site) has recently launched version 1.2, introducing several features and renaming the locally-installed cloud operating system into Joli OS. Among its latest additions was Dropbox integration into the file manager. In an update, Jolicloud has also announced better Google Docs integration for easier management, previewing and editing of online documents.
By default, Jolicloud uses Google Docs as its office suite for editing documents, spreadsheets and presentations (although other options are available, such as OpenOffice.org Writer, when running the local version). Documents are stored and managed on the cloud, so no files actually reside on the user's computer. This is advantageous in two ways. First, you won't have to worry about data loss from hardware problems. Second, because the online version is always updated, you can open your Jolicloud session from another computer and your work and files are still there.
File Manager Integration
The disadvantage with Google Docs, though, is the interface. If you're not used to a web-based office interface, you might find yourself looking for the usual directory structure and files. Jolicloud's latest update addresses this. Google Docs integration into Jolicloud does not mean launching a new window or tab of what is essentially docs.google.com from within Jolicloud. Jolicloud actually integrates Google Docs into its file manager, which allows for folder-like navigation of files, quick previews and editing directly on the Jolicloud interface.
The file manager lets users arrange Google Docs content by name, size and date last modified, much like how you would manage files and documents on a local folder. Clicking on the empty space beside a filename will generate a thumbnail preview of the document on the right sidebar in file manager. The file manager also shows the date when the document was last modified. Clicking on the filename itself or clicking on the "Preview" button while a file is selected will pop up a preview lightbox. Clicking the "Open" link will launch a new Google Docs tab where you can edit the file.
Editing Directly in Preview
In my experience, the preview window actually lets you edit documents directly, which can be useful for quick edits. Opening a document, spreadsheet or presentation in preview lets users make direct edits, although you won't be able to navigate the file manager nor go to other areas of Jolicloud. Still, this works well for going through the contents of a Google Docs document.
Jolicloud's Google Docs integration comes pretty close to actually letting the user manage documents on the cloud without the interface feeling like a web app. This functionality works on both the locally-installed Joli OS and the web version, which can be run from any capable web browser.