Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Google Docs

Google Docs is a GREAT way to share documents (word processing files, spreadsheets and now presentations) and work with other people. If you haven't used it yet, you owe it to yourself to take a look! All you need is a Google account.

The key to working smarter is working together. Today, there are lots of tools that can help you do this more efficiently and Google Docs is one of them. I'll write about others I use in future articles.

I have been using Google Docs for about a year now. Now, I save very few, if any, documents to my hard drive. They all go into Google Docs. The straw that broke the camels back and pushed me into using Google Docs for just about everything I do happened one day this spring. I needed to see the budget my secretary kept on her computer and she was out of town for a week. There was no way I could get to that file (legally). When she got back, we put that spreadsheet into Google Docs where we could both access it and work on it. I've heard of many others having similar experiences.

Reasons I love Google Docs:

  • I can access my files from any computer connected to the internet. Very nice if you use more than one computer.
  • Other people (I choose who) can be invited to edit - this is the REAL power
  • Other people (I choose who) can be allowed to view
  • Documents can be published to the web to share with a lot of people with two clicks
  • Every change is recorded - along with who made the change
  • Integrated with Google Mail (if you use gMail)
  • Post directly to your blog
  • FREE
  • EASY
  • FAST

Reasons Google Docs is not perfect:
  • It is not a desk top publishing (DTP) application. For the rare occasion when I need to format a document for paper beyond the capabilities of Google Docs, I save it to my computer and use the appropriate application for DTP. I use Google Docs to create, get others' input and help and then do any final layout using a DTP app on my computer.
  • I find it easier to move around and edit a spreadsheet using Excel or Calc. So, if I'm going to be doing some major work on a spreadsheet, I'll work on it locally and then upload it when I'm done.
  • Presentations doesn't allow me to edit the background or add animatation.
  • Presenations doesn't allow me to save as a PowerPoint file.
  • It does about 95% of what I need a word processor to do, about 90% of what I need a spreadsheet application to do and about 80% of what I need a presentation application to do. What I lose in functionality, I more than make up for in other ways.

Over the last year, Google Docs has made a lot of improvements and new features are being added at a fast pace. If it doesn't do what you need today, keep watching.

For a quick overview of Google Docs, see: Google Docs in Plain English.

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