Online Collaboration Tools: Google Docs Reviewed

With an extensive database of document templates, Google Docs is a useful free tool. You can share your documents and collaborate with other users as well. Keep reading to learn more!

document collaboration

What Is It?

Google Docs allows you to create and modify text documents, numerical and text spreadsheets, forms and presentations. You can either import documents from your own computer or create new files within Docs itself. It's also possible to either start a document from scratch or to use a template. There is a large database of existing templates for things like budgets, resumes, lists, calendars, timelines, surveys, calculators and legal documents. These templates are also available in a variety of languages, which you can filter as needed.

All the features of this program are totally free and can be accessed through the Docs website. No downloads are required. Since the program is web-based, you can use it from any computer connected to the Internet without having to worry about saving your work to a hard drive. You will need to get a Google account in order to use Docs, but this doesn't necessarily mean that you have to switch your email service to Gmail. Docs stands out from the other collaboration tools I reviewed because of its document creation capabilities. The other tools seemed to focus a bit more on whiteboard-type interfaces.

What Makes It Cool?

As a collaborative tool, Google Docs works well. It's easy to grant or transfer document access among users with Google accounts. You can grant multiple users the ability to alter a document, or you can limit users to the ability to view the document. It's also possible to link this product in with other Google collaboration services like Buzz or Wave.

The program's features are also very good. The interface is cleanly designed and fairly user-friendly. Google's help section is thorough and useful. Of all the document collaboration tools I reviewed, this was one of the most versatile. The large template database is a great asset, and you can keep your docs online, print them, send them to other users or export them to your computer.

What Are Its Drawbacks?

One drawback is the fact that the collaboration aspect doesn't happen virtually and in real-time. You can't use the program itself to see how other users with document access are making changes until those changes are made and saved. It's also possible that the program is a bit more complex than some users may need. The more limited offerings of other collaboration programs might be more appropriate for some purposes.

Where Can I Find It?

You can sign up for Google Docs here.

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