You might remember my first introduction to cloud computing was a client who used Google Calendar. My first business e-mail was a Gmail account and as I was looking around, I saw Google offering Docs. So, as I was building this business, I used Google Docs as a way to share ideas and collaborate with others. Google also offers spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and forms, though I’ve not used any of these yet. All you need to use Google Docs is a Gmail account, which you can get free.
I’ll be honest; I don’t use Google Docs much these days. When I was collaborating more, it was a great way to share ideas. I still use it when I need to grab some text for various things – like when I post ads to Craigslist or someone wants a bio. Part of this is that I’ve not bothered to get many of the files onto my computer and it’s simple and easy to get it from Google Docs.
I appreciate the simplicity of the layout – you can see that along the left side are the options for creating new documents and uploading files. Below this are more categories and then folders that I created so my overall file list was easier to navigate. The center shows the complete list (based on the selection – in this case, “all items”) of my files. This includes files I’ve viewed from other’s shared collections – I was surprised to see “Heartbreaker Valentines.pdf” there. This was something I looked at and never realized it was part of Google Docs! The right side is something relatively new – where it provides some additional information on the file that’s highlighted from the middle.
I like how they’ve set up the collaborating options – since you can create files that are public, anyone with a link to the file, or private. Even when you decide to keep the settings as private, you can still share the file with others and controlling whether you want them to be able to edit the file or to just view it. When you share a file, the person you’re sharing it with does not need a Gmail account – which I think is wonderful.
With how I’ve tended to use Google Docs, I’ve never needed or wanted many editing or formatting features –for my purposes, they have what I need. I’ve heard there’s some struggles with creating and editing tables with Google Docs. I find the editing tools easy to find and use – and without many the additional options I rarely use even with MS Word. I also like that they frequently save your work as you go – mostly seamlessly – but include a “save now” button so you can also save it when you need.
As with all cloud computing, it’s accessible whenever you have an Internet connection. I’ve found the accessibility to questionable with other devices – Google Docs has only recently been improving their functionality (in my opinion) for smart phones and other devices, like the iPad. Just the other day I was using my iPad to access Google Docs and I kept getting an error message – while other applications that need the Internet were running perfectly. I’m pleased they’ve been improving their mobile accessibility, and am hopeful it will become useful. At this point, I avoid doing it if possible.
Google Docs is free and easy to use. I love the idea that anywhere I am with some time on my hands and an Internet connection I could sign in and be productive. Is this something that would benefit you and your life?