Performance in Google Docs!

In Google Docs, once I get over about 40 pages with about >50 paperpile references, the pages really slow down in performance (e.g., very choppy editing when typing). The performance gets worse the more paperpile references, images, or tables, are added. Ultimately I need to break up the content across 8-10 google documents just to type without it slowing to a complete crawl.

I’m not sure if this is a google docs limitation, or paperpile limitation. I run the latest version of Chrome 64bit, Windows 7, 16GB RAM, Intel core i7 machine on 50mb broadband, so I don’t think my machine or browser is the limitation.

I think something fundamental like this should be fixed before new features start coming.

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This happens to me, too, and it resolves if I close the document and open it again, after which it starts to slow down again. Chrome on latest OS X on current-generation macbook air

We have not forgotten about that. We tried to fix it for the latest release which we pushed on Saturday and contained many Google Docs fixes. Unfortunately we could not find out yet exactly what is going on. But I’m optimistic we will get this under control soon.


Any progress with this bug?

I’ve been able to reliably reproduce the performance issue, identified the underlying problem and implemented a fix. It needs more testing on our side but we should be able to release it in the coming week.

So assuming the performance issue I’ve seen is the same you see it should be fixed very soon. Thanks for your patience.

Sounds good. Looking forward to it.

We’ve just pushed an update:

It fixes a bug that caused reproducibly a performance degradation in my tests. Let’s hope this is the same issue that caused the problems for you. All feedback is welcome.

Some background: Whenever you move the cursor over a heading in your document the URL of the tab changes. That triggers an update event for our extension to check whether the Google Docs plugin is active in the tab already. There was a bug that tried to add the plugin code again even though it was already loaded. We did check to avoid multiple loaded plugins in one tab but apparently just the loading event consumed some resources. So if you had a big document and would move your cursor from start to end, you would trigger a loading event dozens of times.

Ok, I will let you guys know how things are working in the next couple days. Chrome 64-bit just had a major update so I think that may be helping performance as well.

Performance has gotten much better. Haven’t noticed any choppiness since the latest Chrome/Paperpile updates.

One small thing I noticed now in Google Docs, is that when you click a collection of references and try to drag and rearrange the references, they don’t rearrange like the used too. They seem to be “stuck” in position.

Great, I’ve got feedback from some other users as well. So it’s safe to assume that this problem is fixed now.

The rearrangement of citations has been changed a while ago I think (I would need to check). We don’t actually support user defined ordering at the moment and even though it was possible in the user interface it was ignored downstream.


It seems that this issue was fixed, atleast in some of my newer docs, but I’m having problems when going back to some of my older and larger docs.

Here is the interesting part; I notice that the typing experience is normal and smooth until I use any portion of the paperpile app in the doc; e.g., click on a reference, add a new reference, etc. It seems that cracking open the paper pile app immediately puts strain on the performance.

I can share the doc if it helps.

I don’t think that’s related to the other bug.

You mean when you open the Paperpile web app in a new tab or the Google Docs plugin dialog within Google Docs? Can you explain in more detail the performance issues you see?

No, I mean when I interact with the paperpile Google Doc plugin, such as citing a reference in the paper. Within a couple minutes the typing becomes really choppy and laggy. Its the same performance issues I’ve been talking about for awhile.

Do you want me to share the doc? Have you guys never seen a really badly choppy google doc before?

Yes we have seen the issue. It occured whenever you moved your cursor through the document over a heading. That triggered a URL change which in turn triggered some events in our plugin which made the whole experience slow.

But this particular issue has been fixed and the fix has been confirmed by several other users.

Can you contact us through our messaging system with the following information:

  • Can you confirm that your extension has been updated to 1.0.72
  • Open the debugging window (Tool menu > More tools > Developer tools). Clear the content with the little “clear” icon in the toolbar. Then open the Paperpile dialog and do whatever it makes it choppy. Then send us the content of the debuggin window (if any).
  • Also you can share the document with me (washietl - AT - gmail - DOT - com) and I can try to reproduce.

Ok, I just sent a comment to support and shared the file.

Hi. I have had a similar problem. Been writing my dissertation. Have over 87 references with a 20 page document. It is very slow when adding references to the parts of the page I want. Had to make comments on my Google Doc to make the references later. This has been happening on Gogole Chrome. The speed of the Google Doc is faster on Safari but i cannot add references because there isn’t a Paperpile extension for the browser. Please can you look into this asap and let me know what is going to happen. Thanks in advanced.

We have not heard complaints since more than a year about Google Docs performance. 20 pages is not a big document and 87 references is also not that much.

We can look into it for you but would need much more information. Can you contact us through the in app messenger and explain in more detail what is slow under which circumstances? Thanks.

Overall same Google Doc is slow on Google Chrome and fast on Safari (both browsers are up to date - Google Chrome Version 49.0.2623.110 (64-bit) and Safari Version 9.0.3 (11601.4.4)). When I try to reference a piece of text, it takes a long time for the search field to appear, search for the reference, and inserting the reference into the text. Also typing is slow in Google Chrome. Sometimes i have to switch to Safari to type faster.

I tried using fewer tabs in my browser. Even the only tab used is the one with the Google Doc and the same phenomenon occurs.

I have attempted to clear my cache and load the page again but the problem still persists.

Please let me know what more information I can provide you.

Thanks for the information. Can you try to disable the Paperpile Chrome extension and then reload the Google Doc, to verify that Paperpile is actually the reason why your document gets slow in Chrome.

I just deleted the extension and re-added it to my Chrome browser. It made no different in the speed. However, I tried to access another Google Doc which uses the same Paperpile library and has fewer images and in-page references. Therefore there must be something wrong with the document. I exported the document to Micosoft Word and the file size is only 867 KB. Does not seem big enough to cause this slow processing. But i duplicated the document and removed the images, this made a big difference to the speed. There were not many images in the document, especially with the overall size. Is there any way the speed can be improved?