Google March 16 upgraded its comments capabilities to be more like a social collaboration suite. New discussion capabilities make it easier for users to resolve comments.
16 turned its comments feature in Google Docs into a moderated social-conversation
tool, adding ownership and editing privileges, timestamps and profile pictures
for each comment.
semi-socialized its Docs document, spreadsheet and presentation applications by
moving comments to the sidebar and letting people reply to them in its major
the new Docs discussions provide a sorely needed social element missing from
Docs, which as part of its upgrade received
faster document, drawing and spreadsheet editors in Docs.
programs communication tools felt dated compared with upstart collaboration
tools from Yammer, Socialcast and Socialtext, all of which offered status
updates, profile pictures and easy access to comment threads.
The new Docs
discussion capabilities make it easier for users to resolve comments so they
can be removed from the document and be viewed later by clicking the discussions
button at the top of any document.
you can't watch all of your important documents all day to see if there are any
suggestions, which is why we've integrated comments with your in-box to
facilitate more rapid and responsive communication," explained Google
software engineer Nick Cooper in a blog
, which offers screenshots and a video demo of the improvements.
users can now add someone to a discussion with an @mention. Any user mentioned
in this manner will receive a notification e-mail containing the text of the
comment, similar to the way users on Twitter are alerted to @mentions.
When the user
receives an e-mail in his in-box with the question or comment, he can reply to
the e-mail or click through to open the document. The reply will show up in the
document as soon as the e-mail is sent.
Users who wish
not to be bothered may also turn off e-mail notifications for a document by
selecting Mute updates from a comment at the bottom of any e-mail or select
discussion notification settings from the Discussions drop down.
Google employees have been testing the discussion-oriented comments for several
months and found that it greatly improves "the feedback cycle" by making
it shorter and getting more people involved.
will be available over the next few days to all users with personal Google
Accounts and Google Apps customers on the Rapid
new comments capabilities are only available in new documents, so users must
create a new document.
mentioned to Google that the new comments seemed to be a bid to better
socialize Docs in the wake of comparable features from collaboration software
rivals Yammer, Socialcast and Salesforce.com, Scott Johnston, group product
manager for Google Docs and Google Sites, told eWEEK:
Docs is designed from the ground up to be a collaborative document creator. The
new discussions interface accelerates the collaboration capabilities in Google
Whether or not
the Google Docs team followed in the footsteps of smaller rivals is moot. The
company had to make its changes to improve the suite's collaboration feature