What's Up, Google Docs?

The Google Docs team announced preview versions today for the new Google document and spreadsheet editors. There is also a new standalone drawings editor. All of these were built with a larger focus towards speed and collaboration in mind.

With the document editor, Google has included the real-time editing experience you rely on in their spreadsheets. Now you can see changes the moment other collaborators make an edit. They’ve also included the sidebar chat feature from the spreadsheet side of things. You’ll be able to talk with others while you’re working on the document. Highly-requested features have now been added including better import/export capabilities, a new commenting system, real margins and tab stops and an improved image layout within your documents.

For spreadsheets, Google has created a back-end that helps your work load and run faster. “You’ll see significant speed and performance improvements — spreadsheets load faster, are more responsive and scroll more seamlessly.” Other new features include a formula bar to use when editing cells, auto-complete capability, drag-and-drop columns and easier navigation between sheets you’ve created.

The biggest news, of course, is the inclusion of a new collaborative drawing editor. The new tool lets you work in real time with others on things such as flow charts, designs and diagrams. You can copy your drawings into documents, spreadsheets or presentations using the web clipboard. You can also share or publish your drawings just like you do with other Google Docs you have created.

The drawings editor will be available later today, and preview versions of spreadsheets and documents will roll out to all individual users over the next few days. To try them out, click “New version” at the top of any spreadsheet or go to the ‘Document Settings’ page and select ‘New version of Google documents.’

These types of changes could mean an even larger share of the market for Google. Millions of us already use (and love) Google Docs. I have a feeling thousands more will jump into the fray and make this their preferred “document suite” of choice. Cloud Computing isn’t just a term that will soon disappear. It’s something very real – and very important. With so much of our lives spent online, working in the Cloud is nearly a necessity. Google Docs is just one way to get things done – whether you’re working from home or on the road.