Google Docs was originally created as two separate programs: Writely, which was a web based word-processor launched in August, 2005 and Google Labs Spreadsheets on the June of 2006. Over the years Google grew into a very successful business acquiring various small companies. Today, Google Docs has many things to offer to you, and all it takes is a simple 5 minutes to sign up for a free account. Once you do that, you will be able to create: word documents, slideshow presentations, spreadsheets, form polls, draw pictures, and build web applications. One of the best features is that your work is saved online rather than on your computer. This means that if you can access your files from any computer with internet access, which is a lot more convenient than carrying a heavy laptop or flash drives everywhere you go.
Google Documents is a word processing application. It is very useful for writing essays and stories, creating business forms/applications, writing lab reports, the list goes on. There is a wide range of editing tools at your disposal as well. It is equivalent to Microsoft Word, so if you are familiar with it, Google Documents should be no problem for you. However, the new collaborative feature is what really makes it stand out. When you share the document with a partner, you can simultaneously make comments and corrections. This is amazing, because prior to collaboration you had to send your work to others as an email attachment, wait for each partner to make corrections, send it back, then merge all the corrections together into one final document.
Google Presentations is the equivalent of Microsoft PowerPoint. It is an application for creating slideshows, similar to the one I’m showing you right now. There are many themes that you can choose from to completely personalize your slideshow. You can also insert and animate graphics, or add transitions between each slide to make your presentation as visually appealing as possible to grasp the viewer’s attention. While working on your presentation you have easy access to all slides you have already completed on the left side of the screen, so you can switch between them with the click of a button.
Google Spreadsheets is the equivalent to Microsoft Excel. With this application you are able to create your own data tables. Each little box in the spreadsheet is called a cell, and is where you plot your data. These cells are organized into rows and columns to make the data as neat as possible. If you feel that a data table is not enough, you have the option to create a chart or graph based on the plotted information. Bar graphs, pie charts, and line graphs are just a few of the visual aids you have at your disposal and they are completely customizable as well in terms of color and size.
When you have questions directed towards a large group of people Google Forms is the application for you. This is a really neat tool for collecting and compiling data quickly in the form of an online survey. Simply put, all you have to do is create a list of questions for your audience to answer. You can choose to make it an open question, or a selection among a number of answers, it’s that easy. When you send the survey, it appears in the recipients’ email and they answer it directly from the message. When they answer it gets sent straight back to you and Google Forms will make statistics out of the results. This is convenient for event planners, because they can keep track of attendance or events of interest.
Google Drawings is application for drawing your own pictures. You can create, edit, and share your work with your peers. If you wish, you can even take the picture you created and include them into another Google Docs application. For instance, you can create a flowchart, and then upload it to Google Presentations to include into your slide show. It’s nothing sophisticated, but it’s a way for you to explore your inner creativity. There are a wide range of tools at your disposal here.
Finally, there is Google Script. Google Script is an application for the more experienced computer users. With this application you can code your own automated tasks for a website.
The biggest feature included in this Google Docs package is the real-time collaboration. Now that users can work simultaneously on the same document it can be completed not only much faster, but more efficiently. You can view your partners making corrections as they are doing it, or leave little comments for them to see while they work. You will no longer feel in the dark about what your partners are working on, because you have complete access whenever you like. Another benefit is cloud storage. This means that you can save your work online and access it on any other computer with internet access, reducing clutter on your computer. The most appealing feature however, is that fact that all of these applications are absolutely free after setting up an account. No more constantly spending money to purchase the most recent version of Microsoft Office.
For more information about Google Docs and in depth tutorials on each application I have six clickable links up here
By: Patrick Fortes 9/18/2012
Word Slideshow Spreadsheets Documents PresentationsPolls/Surveys Drawings Script
Google Docs is a Word Processor Essays Business Forms Reports Contracts Collaborative writing
Application for creating data tables Organized and easy to understand Easy-to-create charts and graphs based on your entered data
Simultaneous collaboration with partners makes working on projects more convenient. Real-time corrections Convenient cloud storage Free access after creating a Google account
Google Documents Google Forms Google Presentations Google Drawings Google Spreadsheets Google Script