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Google releases major overhaul of Google Docs; faster, more responsive, better collaboration


It's hot off the press, and still being slowly unrolled, but the Google Docs blog has just announced some major changes to its office productivity suite of web tools. You can stop reading now and watch the video if you want to find out what's new, or read on for some bullet points!
  • Faster -- what with Google Docs being entirely in the browser, things can sometimes get a bit slow with JavaScript doing the majority of the work. With this new version of Docs, pages will load faster, spreadsheets will manipulate more quickly.
  • More responsive -- seemingly, Google's purchase of EtherPad was actually to bolster Google Docs rather than Wave! This new version of Docs features a more-responsive, real-time word processor -- you'll be able to experience collaborative projects character-by-character.
  • Better collaboration -- the new version of Google Docs features a collaborative drawing editor; neat. Take a look at a screengrab of it (it's not enabled yet -- later today, Google says).
As I said earlier, not everyone has access to the new version yet, but you should be able to toggle it within the next few days. Spreadsheet users will see a button appear at the top of the page, while you have to go into Settings > Document Settings to enable the new document editor.

Meanwhile, there's a counterpart post up on the Google Enterprise blog with more technical details on the new implementation of Google Docs. Imported documents will be of a higher fidelity, with more-accurately preserved formatting. Also worth noting is that the new Google Docs does not support Gears -- as a result, offline support is disappearing from 3 May 2010. Google is busy working on an HTML5 solution and the offline option should reappear soon after.
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Tags: collaboration, etherpad, gears, google, google apps, google docs, GoogleApps, GoogleDocs, html5, spreadsheet, update, word processing, WordProcessing

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