Google Docs Makeover Coming, with Questionable Sharing Change

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-07-17 Print this article Print

The Google Docs guys are making changes to the word processing application and have promised to roll them out over the next few weeks.

Some bloggers think the Docs guys are knee-jerking from the accolades Microsoft has been getting over the software maker's Office Web answer to Google Apps.

I agree, but it's also high time for a mini-makeover for the app. Google Docs Product Manager Vijay Bangaru, who also promised a new interface for Docs, wrote:

We're always looking for ways to make it easier to find what you're looking for in Google Docs, which is why we're taking some time to do a bit of remodeling to the Docs list. Over the next few weeks you'll see a number of small changes, culminating in a brand new shiny interface.

For starters, Google said it will do away with the "Shared with..." list in the left hand pane. Instead, the company is recommending users use search to do the same thing by clicking "Search Options" and typing the user's name into the "Shared with:" box. Users can also save this search to make it accessible in "Saved Searches."

I'm not sure how users will feel about this. When you take away a list that people can use to decide with whom they want to share documents and replace it by telling users to type the names of people to share documents with, you're creating more work. But I ask you Docs users: will you like this change?

There will also be a new Sharing Menu that moves all of our sharing functionality into one box so that users can manage sharing without having to leave the Docs list. That sounds like a grand plan to me. Consolidated management is the kind of sharing we want.

There is also new search options, to let users search by:

  • exact phase matching, by using quotes: ["match this phrase exactly"]
  • Or: ["tacos" OR "nachos"]
  • Negation: [salsa -dancing]. This will include items with salsa recipes, but not items about dancing
  • Who the doc is shared from or to: [] or []
  • Star or Hidden state: [is:starred] or [is:hidden]

Overall, I love the consolidated sharing box and approve of the search operators, but I'm leery of the requirement to manually search for contacts with whom to share items.

Google Watchers protested loud and clear when the Gmail Labs team took away right-side labels. I wonder if we can expect the same protest when Google takes away our "Shared With" lists option.

What do you think? |

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