Google Docs

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Google Docs
File:Google Docs logo.png

Google Docs homepage
Developer(s) Writely Team (originally)
Google Inc.
Operating system Web-based application
Platform Internet Explorer 6+
Mozilla Firefox 2+
Google Chrome 1+
Safari 3+
Available in Multilingual (48)[1]
Type Online spreadsheet, Presentations, Word processor
File:Google Docs - example document.png
An example of a document in Google Docs

Google Docs is a free, Web-based word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, form, and data storage application offered by Google. It allows users to create and edit documents online while collaborating in real-time with other users. Google Docs combines the features of two services, Writely and Spreadsheets, which were merged into a single product on October 10, 2006. A third product for presentations, incorporating technology designed by Tonic Systems, was released on September 17, 2007. Data storage of any files up to 250MB each in size was introduced on January 13, 2010.



File:Writely logo.PNG
Writely's beta logo

Google Docs originated from two separate products, Writely and Google Spreadsheets. Writely was a web-based word processor created by the software company Upstartle and launched in August 2005.[2] Spreadsheets, launched as Google Labs Spreadsheets on June 6, 2006,[3] originated from the acquisition of the XL2Web product by 2Web Technologies. Writely's original features included a collaborative text editing suite and access controls. Menus, keyboard shortcuts, and dialog boxes are similar to what users may expect in a desktop word processor such as Microsoft Word or Writer.

On March 9, 2006, Google announced that it had acquired Upstartle.[4] At the time of acquisition, Upstartle had four employees.[5] Writely closed registration to its service until the move to Google servers was complete.[4] In August 2006, Writely sent account invitations to everyone who had requested to be placed on a waiting list, and then became publicly available on August 23. Writely continued to maintain its own user system until September 19, 2006, when it was integrated with Google Accounts.[6]

Writely originally ran on Microsoft ASP.NET technology which uses Microsoft Windows. Since July 2006, Writely servers appear to be running a Linux-based operating system.[7]

Meanwhile, Google developed Google Spreadsheets using the technology it had acquired from 2Web Technologies in 2005 and launched Google Labs Spreadsheets[8] [9] on June 6, 2006 as the first public component of what would eventually become Google Docs. It was initially made available to only a limited number of users, on a first-come, first-served basis. The limited test was later replaced with a beta version available to all Google Account holders, around the same time as a press release was issued.[10]

In February 2007, Google Docs was made available to Google Apps users.

In June 2007, Google changed the front page to include folders instead of labels, organized in a side bar.

On September 17, 2007, Google released their presentation program product for Google Docs.[11]

On July 6th, 2009, Google announced on their official blog that Google Docs along with other Google Apps would be taken out of beta.[12]

On January 13, 2010, Google announced on their official blog that Google Docs would allow any file type, including 1GB of free space and $0.25/GB for additional storage.[13]


Google Docs is Google's "software as a service" version of an office suite. Documents, spreadsheets, forms and presentations can be created within the application itself, imported through the web interface, or sent via email. They can also be saved to the user's computer in a variety of formats (ODF, HTML, PDF, RTF, Text, Word). By default, they are saved to the Google servers. Open documents are automatically saved to prevent data loss, and a revision history is automatically kept. Documents can be tagged and archived for organizational purposes. The service is officially supported on recent versions of the Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and Chrome browsers running on Microsoft Windows, Apple OS X, and Linux operating systems.[14]

There is a limit on how much a user can store on their account. Individual documents may not exceed 250 MB as of January 13, 2010, embedded images must not exceed 2MB each, and spreadsheets are limited to 256 columns, 200,000 cells, and 99 sheets.[15][16] A user can have a total of 5,000 documents and presentations, 5,000 images, 1,000 spreadsheets, and 100 PDFs at one time.[17] In September 2009, an equation editor was added which allows rendering in LaTeX format.

Google Docs serves as a collaborative tool for editing amongst users and non-users in real time. Documents can be shared, opened, and edited by multiple users at the same time. In the case of spreadsheets, users can be notified of changes to any specified regions via e-mail. The application supports the ISO standard OpenDocument format. It also includes support for proprietary formats such as .doc and .xls[18] as well as support for .docx and .xlsx. [19]

Google Docs is amongst many cloud computing document-sharing services[20]. The majority of document-sharing services require user fees, whereas Google Docs is free. Its popularity amongst businesses is growing due to enhanced sharing features and accessibility.[21]

Google Docs can be used (viewing and editing) in offline mode using Google Gears.

Data safety and privacy

On March 10, 2009, Google reported that a bug in Google Docs had allowed unintended access to some private documents. It was believed that 0.05% of documents stored via the service were affected by the bug, which Google claimed had been fixed.[22]

Mobile access

Mobile Google Docs [23] allows mobile phone users to browse their Google Docs documents in a mobile browser. Users can view documents and view and edit spreadsheets, but not presentations or view PDF files, but alternative websites to Google can be used for this goal. Versions of Google Docs for the iPhone and Android include functionality for editing spreadsheets and viewing presentations, along with an interface designed specifically for the device. On the other hand, one cannot view or edit open format database files.

See also


  1. Official Google Docs Blog: Now available in 48 languages
  2. Emily Chang - eHub Interviews Writely
  3. Google Press Center: Google Announces limited test on Google Labs: Google Spreadsheets
  4. 4.0 4.1 Official Google Blog: Writely so
  5. - Google Acquires Online Word Processing Company
  6. The Writely Blog: Google Account Sign-in LIVE
  7. [ keep-alive Cache-Control: max-age=0 report?url= Site report for]
  8. Google Press Center: Google Announces limited test on Google Labs: Google Spreadsheets
  9. Official Google Blog: Its Nice to Share
  10. "Google Announces Google Docs & Spreadsheets". 2006-10-11. Retrieved 2008-10-18. 
  11. Attila Bodis (2007-09-17). "Our feature presentation". Official Google Blog. Retrieved 2007-09-17. 
  12. Matthew Glotzbach, Director, Product Management, Google Enterprise (2009-07-07). "Google Apps is out of beta (yes, really)". Official Google Blog. Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  13. Google Docs any file type
  14. "Getting to know Google Docs: System requirements". Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  16. Getting to know Google Docs: Size limits
  17. Basic Information: Size requirements for Docs
  18. Google Docs Tour
  19. List of supported file types
  20. Working Together: 60+ Collaborative Tools for Groups
  21. Top 5 Ways to Collaborate
  22. Google software bug shared private online documents, AFP, March 10, 2009

Further reading

  • Conner, Nancy (2008). Google Apps: The Missing Manual. Sebastopol: Pogue Press. ISBN 9780596515799. 

External links

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