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google docs featuresGoogle Docs has been by far one of the more useful offerings from Google in my life.  Sure, Gmail is a close second because I do use it every day.  However, since there are other worthy alternatives to using Gmail for my email, Google Docs will have to be my pick.

One of the major reasons why Google Docs is useful to me is because of the amazing collaborative features it has.  Being able to work together on spreadsheets and documents has been imperative in the past few years.


That being said, web-based word processing has had its downfalls (check out the debate The Word Processor: Online vs. Offline [Poll] The Word Processor: Online vs. Offline [Poll] Read More ).  One of the downfalls is Google’s ability to render documents correctly.  Let this article serve to prove that Google is working on the issues and hopefully someday online word processing can possibly replace the old school offline way of doing things.  In its newest release, Google Docs has worked on four areas that makes it even better than before.

Real Time Collaboration

Like I mentioned earlier, one of the Google Docs features I love is that I have the ability to collaborate with other editors.  Now Google has improved this to the point of real time collaboration.  This means that I can be working on a document or spreadsheet at the same time as another editor and we can actually see changes as they take place.

Notice in the screenshot how there is a block highlighted in a color and how a name pops up.This tells me that a change is taking place at that exact moment.

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Chat With Other Collaborators

This Google Docs feature goes right along with real time collaboration.  When Google acquired EtherPad, perhaps they put them to work on Google Docs instead of Google Wave.  Either way, I see this as a great improvement to Google Docs; a move that makes a lot of sense.

Now when you have another editor working on the same document, the name shows up at the top right side of the screen.  Clicking on the name will drop down an EtherPad-type chat sidebar.  Looks familiar, right?  Very cool though.

google docs features

Higher-Quality Imports

In the past, importing documents created by offline word processors to be edited via Google Docs usually turned up some wonky formatting issues.  If it is true that they are improving the import abilities, I am all for it.  This is one area I see as holding me back from going all out using just web based word processing.  Google, never stop improving in this area.  We want to see the exact document that we uploaded, please.

Ruler

Last but not least, Google Docs has added a ruler at the top of the documents editor.  Word processors for years have had this feature.  Why it’s only now becoming available in Google Docs, I’m not sure.  However, having it finally here is a blessing.

As you can see, we can now more easily format our documents.  A quick glance at the ruler, and perhaps a few quick adjustments, and we are on our way to a more better formatted word processing life.

google docs features

Even with these new Google Docs features, online word processing has much to be desired.  What else do you think Google Docs should add?  And what is your favorite (new or not) feature of Google Docs?

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