From the Ground to the Clouds with Google Docs

About a month ago, I swore off Microsoft Office for personal use. I chose to do this for several reasons: the performance of Office 2008 wasn't the best on the Mac, I hated having to wait for a document to open with Office when I have native Mac apps that can handle most of the Office file types, and I hated not having an easy way to access all of my documents while on the go. To circumvent almost all of these problems, I decided to move over to Google Docs.

If you've never used it, Google Docs is an online web service offered by Google that allows you to create and edit documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and forms, all from your web browser. All of your data, as well as the Google Docs application, is stored on Google's servers, allowing you to access it from anywhere in the world; this concept is known as Cloud Computing.

Of course, another reason I decided to start working in the cloud is because of all the great features of using Google Docs. Some of my favorites include:

  • Collaboration: share a document for editing or viewing with others; this is by far my favorite feature. One of the best examples of this is from my Color Management class. We were measuring density and LAB values from a press form and needed to keep track of all the data. I created a spreadsheet in Google Docs and shared it with the other three members of my group; from there, two of us could take measurements, and the other two could enter the data in the same spreadsheet on different computers. The beautiful part about it is that any changes one person made were reflected on the other's computer in a few seconds. Needless to say, we finished the lab assignment well ahead of everyone else thanks to Google Docs and a little bit of teamwork.
  • Documents on the Go: Last year, every day that I went to school or left for a weekend I would have to sync my MacBook with my iMac. For the most part, I was just syncing school documents that I had been working (papers, reports, labs, etc). Now that I switched to Google Docs, I can access my documents anywhere I have an Internet connection. In fact, if I need to look something up on the go, I can go to the mobile version of Google Docs to see any information I need right from my iPhone.
  • Transitioning from and Cross-Compatability with Office: Google makes it relatively easy to get your Office documents into Google Docs. Google recently introduced a bulk upload feature, allowing users to upload multiple Office documents right into your Google Docs list. I plan on using this feature to convert all of my old school work (all the way back from 9th grade, don't ask why I keep it) into Google Docs. Also, if you want to download an Office compatible copy of your document to send to a friend, Google also gives you that option (along with PDF and the OpenDocument Format).

These are just some of the reasons that I've switched to Google Docs. If you'd like to see more features that Google Docs can offer you, check out What's New in Google Docs? from Google's support pages.