Google Docs: an online collaborative tool


Google Docs is one of Google’s services that offer free, online, and Web-based office application (word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation). This service is originated from three different products; Writely and Google Spreadsheet, and presentation product. Writely was developed by Upstrartle, Google Spreadsheet was developed by 2Web Technologies, and presentation was designed by Tonic Systems. Google Docs, which consist of word processor and spreadsheet, was made available for all users of Google Apps on February 2007 and presentation program on September 2007 (Bodis, 2007).

Google Docs represents the core pattern four of Web 2.0, rich user experience. It combines the best of desktop and online experiences.  Google Docs provides features that the desktop application has, for example high versatility, great GUI (graphical user interface), user friendliness, and fast performance. Through the strengths of the Internet, Google Docs enriches users with collaborative actions to deal with their documents. At the same time, multiple users can share, open, edit, tag, and archive their documents both for individual or organisational purposes. By default, the documents are saved to the Google servers and revision histories are automatically kept. These features deliver the ubiquity of access to the documents.

Google Docs also employs the principle of prioritising usability and simplicity as one of the best practices. In terms of usability, Google Docs enhances the compatibility of file format with other standards, for instance the ISO standard Open Document (.odt, .odp, .ods) and standard of proprietary formats (.doc, .ppt and .xls) (Google, 2009a). Thereby, it can eliminate file format compatibility issues.

It is obvious that Google Docs always add some new features as it can be seen at New features in Google Docs (Google, 2009b). The challenge for Google Docs in providing new features is to ensure that the new features should be ‘bandwidth friendly’ that can still be accessed throughout the world, in particular in developing countries that still have inadequate internet infrastructure. Other challenge is concerning privacy and data security issues. It has ever reported that unintended access to private document has ever occurred (AFP, 2009). Google Docs services can also improved by increasing size limits. The size limits is explained in Getting to know Google Docs: Size limits (Google, 2009c).



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