Google Doc Provides by Barry Welford

What Google Docs provides

Basically Google Docs provides a cloud-computing version of almost all the software programs that are available in the Microsoft Office suite of programs. For example, the following are the main files that can be created:

  • Document = Word
  • Spreadsheet = Excel
  • Presentation = PowerPoint

You can also make drawings and can store most files including images and PDF files.

All these files are stored in what are called collections, which is really a tagging system. That means that a given file can be found in a number of different collections if that is helpful. What can be done in Google Docs is expanding all the time. All files are searchable using the power and rapidity of Google Search, which is an additional advantage of working within Google Docs.

It should be noted that because this software is operating via cloud-computing, the functionality may be slightly reduced versus software, which is operating on a desktop PC. However for the vast majority of applications this is not a limitation.

If you wish to check through the official Google Tour for Google Docs, then you can start here.

You can use Google Docs in a variety of ways and these will be explored in the next three sections.

Google Docs just for you

Even if you alone will be working with the files you create in Google Docs, you will find this can increase your productivity and ease of working. Here are just some of the benefits

  • Your files are held on the Google servers thus limiting the storage requirements on your own computer.
  • You can access the files from anywhere using any computer that has a browser and an Internet connection.
  • Files are automatically stored from time to time and there is no risk of losing unstored work you have done. If you need to access this, there is a full revision history and you can always return to a prior revision if you wish.

Sharing Google Docs output with non-Docs users

With the spam-filtering software now used by many Internet Service Providers (ISPs), sending files as e-mail attachments can be hazardous. If you have very large files to send, these may be blocked or alternatively may take a long time to download.

An alternative way is to send a link to the Google Doc you have created. The recipient, even if they do not have a Google account, can use the link to view the Google Doc. They can then download the Google Doc if they wish and usually have a choice of the type of file which is useful to them.

For some types of document, you can even convert the Google Doc to a web page, which the viewer can then see in their browser.

Collaborating with other Docs users

The advantages of Google Docs to an individual worker, who may share files with others, are such that many will already be convinced this cloud computing is their preferred way of working.

If you are collaborating with other people who have Google accounts (in other words a Gmail address), then Google Docs improves the effectiveness of online collaboration by an order of magnitude.

As opposed to sending out files as attachments to e-mails, all can be viewing exactly the same file, which may be continually upgraded as viewers suggest improvements. Collaborators can also highlight certain passages where they may have concerns or can add comments to the document. These can even develop into online discussions as those involved exchange views on points that may need amendments.

The following video on Google Docs in Plain English is a good introduction to these features.

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