Google has announced that it has rebuilt Google Docs from the ground-up. The result is a massive overhaul of Google Docs, including completely redesigned spreadsheet, document, and drawing editors, group chat functionality, and the ability to collaborate with real-time character-by-character mark-up, much like Google Wave. You can preview the new changes, starting today.
The one word that describes today’s updates is collaboration.Google believes that “collaboration is broken”: People make revisions to the same document, but one bad save by a late person can ruin the whole document. Thus Google’s belief is that creating a browser version of collaboration software that bridges the gap between the desktop and the web is key to better collaboration and quicker innovation.
Google Docs: A Complete Rebuild
The rebuilt Google Docs focuses on addressing those issues, starting with the document editor. One of the biggest changes is that collaborators can now see what others are typing character-by-character. In addition, up to 50 people can now collaborate on one document. The company has also added a chat feature that allows collaborators to discuss a document in a popup that appears on the right-hand side.
Here’s what it looks like:
You might notice that Google Docs feels more like a word processor like Microsoft Word. This is no accident: Google deliberately added features such as rulers, tab stops, spell-check as you type and floating images.
Spreadsheets have also gotten a hefty upgrade: new features include auto-complete, the ability to drag-and-drop columns and faster load times. The best one, though, is probably autofill:
The final addition is a new “drawing editor” for Google Docs, which allows you to draw and download images that can be copied and pasted into multiple Google Docs. Up to 50 people can draw at the same time (we think that sounds chaotic, but haven’t tried to draw with 50 people yet). Finally, the images that you create can be published and embedded onto the web.
Here’s an image depicting the new drawing editor:
Google’s very proud of the newest version of Google Docs; it compares it very favorably against Microsoft Office, only conceding that Office has more advanced (or, in Google’s opinion, niche) formatting features. Collaboration, mobile access, multi-user editing and IM functionality are all things that Google touts.