Google Docs Gets a Makeover

By keyurpatkeyurpat (1255488655|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

I’m sure many of you have heard about Google Docs, but are you really that familiar with it? Well, I definitely wasn’t, but about a year ago, I came across this wonderful service and have never looked back. With its new features, Google Docs is now better than ever!

Google Docs – Sharing documents has never been easier!

It’s always a hassle to send multiple documents or presentations to peers, especially when you have to collaborate during a group project. Fortunately, Google has made our lives a LOT easier by creating a free resource like Google Docs.

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What’s so special about Google Docs?

Emails? Nope. Attachments? Nada Multiple Versions of a Single Document? Yes, but you can conveniently find them all in one place! Google Docs offers the user a single place to store and share multiple documents. What’s the catch? The user can give anyone permission to access and edit these documents right online. Cool right? This becomes especially useful for users to collaborate on a single document. Of course, this type of sharing does come with some problems. What if one user makes unwanted changes? Furthermore, how can you keep track of all the changes that people are making? No worries, Google Docs also stores previous versions of the document for you to access at any time. Much better than emailing a bunch of drafts, right? Come on, say it with me….RIGHT!

Still not convinced? Here’s an interactive video that highlights the advantages of Google Docs

The New Features

Sharing Folders? That’s right, you heard me. Google now offers users the ability to share entire folders. Now, instead of sharing a single file, users are able share an entire workspace! You can find a summary of some of the most important new features here

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But why is this useful? Here’s what Ian Paul had to say:

In the past, if you had multiple documents you needed to share with one workgroup, Google Docs required you to send out multiple sharing notices for each document. The new shared folders feature solves this problem, by allowing you to set up sharing permissions for one folder. Just drag and drop the files you need to share into a folder, and then click "share this folder" and invite members of your workgroup. The people in your workgroup will get an e-mail notifying them you've shared this folder. Once they've logged on to Google Docs, members of your workgroup can see the files you've added to the folder, and also drop files into your folder to share with the same group.

Just a thought

What's another way to use this feature? Well, I was thinking more about it the other day and I realized: why not create class subject folders online? It doesn't matter whether you're working on your laptop or another computer because you can just upload your documents to a common folder that can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. Plus, it reduces all that clutter from storing all of these files on your desktop or in a documents folder. In fact, I could even store these documents online as means of backing up my files. That way, I don't have to worry about my computer crashing or (for you PC users) getting a virus (yes, I have a Mac). Of course, I wouldn't rely completely on Google Docs just in case its server decides to go down. And yes, this is the part where I acknowledge that these are just ideas, but just imagine all the other possibilities!

Future Prospects – The Conclusion

As a student, I have found Google Docs to be very useful for schoolwork. Even if you don't plan to share a document with others, it is much more convenient to upload a document online rather than carrying around a flash drive or emailing it to yourself. As I mentioned before, all your drafts will also be stored in one place, so you don't have to worry about sending multiple emails or organizing all those drafts. It's all conveniently done for you. Some may think that Google intends to replace Office in this way but Rishi Chandra, senior product manager for collaboration at Google Apps, says otherwise. According to him, the company aims to build a “bridge” between Office and Apps. However, Google is still working to resolve a technical issue which sometimes changes the formatting when a user is uploading/downloading documents. Once this problem is resolved, I imagine that the the company will be that much closer to achieving their goal.

A Final Thought

I’m sure all of you will be working on group projects with other Ross Students in the future. Google Docs can be an invaluable resource if used correctly. My recommendation: USE IT! You definitely won’t regret it.

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