Google has followed through on its promise in July to enable Google Docs users to establish shared folders. Far and away the most requested Google Docs feature, shared folders promises to make it far easier for groups to collaborate on documents.
Previously Google Docs users had to set the access permission status for documents, spreadsheets and presentations one at a time. But once Google has finished rolling out its latest round of Google Docs changes, all users will have to do to share items with others is to put them into a shared folder.
"We're rolling out these updates gradually, so they should be available to everyone soon," said Google Docs product manager Vijay Bangaru. "As you'd expect, if you add an item to a shared folder, it will automatically be shared, and if you add someone to an existing shared folder, they will instantly get access to all of the folder's content."
Multiple Item Uploads
Google has also made it easier for users to upload multiple items to its Google Docs cloud-computing environment. "Instead of picking one file at a time, our new upload page lets you choose multiple files and upload them simultaneously, in just a couple of steps," Bangaru said.
During the upload process, files are automatically converted to the Google Docs format, with a status bar displaying a progress report on the transfers. Alternatively, multiple files can be uploaded through the Google Docs List Data API, which enables client applications to upload documents to Google Docs and list them in the form of Google Data API feeds.
Additionally, Google has reintroduced a feature called "items not in folders," which many Google Docs users have been employing as a work flow tool. "We've made one change to ensure the filter functions as expected in light of the new shared folders," Bangaru said. "If you share an item with me and I put it in a shared folder, it is still in your 'items not in folders' view."
One reason is that collaborators should not be able to change the user's work flow, Bangaru noted. "As a result, you'll occasionally see an item with a folder tag in your 'items not in folders' view," Bangaru said. "This is an item that someone else put in a shared folder, but you've never put in a folder."
Other upgrades to Google Docs include the ability to automatically detect and translate foreign languages in Google spreadsheets, e-mail the Google Spreadsheets workbook as an attachment in .xls, .csv, .ods, .pdf and other file formats, or even translate an entire document into more than 40 different languages.
"We also improved the old 'Move to' dialog," Bangaru said. "The new 'Folders' dialog lets you completely control which folder or folders an item is in. And when you're in a folder, you also have the 'Move to' dialog, which lets you quickly move an item to a different folder."
Recent media reports about Sidekick users losing all their data has made some online users anxious about hosting their work in the cloud. But Google said maintaining the integrity of user data is a primary concern.
"We take our responsibility for holding our users' data very seriously," a Google spokesperson said. "And we have multiple and extensive safeguards in place to help protect our users' data."