Google Docs

by Jon Gjengset

As a part of an university assignment, I am required to have a look at Google Docs, which I have been using for some time now. Perhaps not so much using it as having an account and creating one document, but still, I have had my look around, and as with most Google products, I am quite impressed with what I see.

First of all, Google Docs offers three different types of documents: Documents ( duh.. ), Spreadsheets and Presentations ( think PowerPoint ). Not only does Google Docs allow you to create and edit these kinds of documents online, but you can also upload already existing files from Microsoft Office, OpenOffice and other Offices straight onto Docs and it will convert them for you. Later, you can then export your document, spreadsheet or presentation as whatever format you see fit.

Docs is more than just an online copy of an office suite: It also allows more advanced and online-centered features such as shared / collaborated documents – the difference being whether those you invite should be allowed to edit your document or not, online publishing ( i.e. publish your documents as HTML files or embed them directly from Google onto your website! ), and finally, revision control. This allows you to revert back to any older version of your document, or only view it to extract certain pieces of the text that you have deleted. Overall, Docs not only gives you everything a desktop office suite can provide, but it also goes beyond that and links it in with the capabilities of the web.

So, you may ask, how much will I have to pay for this delicious piece of the web? In true Google spirit, the application is of course free of use – all you need is a Google ID. There are however certain limits on the storage capacity. The limits are as follows:
Documents: 500K, and embedded images with a limit of 2MB per image
Spreadsheets: 256 columns, 200,000 cells or 100 sheets – whichever is reached first. Google says that they provided an unlimited amount of rows, which I suppose means there is theoretical limit…
Presentations: Uploaded PowerPoint or presentation files can be 10MB or 200 slides, whereas web-created files can only be 2MB. If you want to e-mail them to friends or co-workers, you have to keep it below 500k
Finally, PDFs: You can only have 100 PDFs in your Google Docs at any given time, with similar size limits as for presentations.

But why should you be using this over your local office software? The answer is quite simply – because you have access to your files from anywhere, no matter what software is installed. You can show your slideshows on your mobile phone, or read your spreadsheets on that public library computer with only an internet browser and a keyboard. Or, when the hardware permits it, read it on the palm of your hand or on the embedded screen in your eyes, but that might be a while into the future.

Why are you still reading? Go get Google Docs!