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May 25, 2009

Google Docs path to competency

I use Google Docs a lot because I frequently want to share my drafts with some set of people and because no-frills writing software keeps me from distracting myself with frills. But, as a writing tool, Google Docs heads us back to somewhere between NotePad and a 1998 wysiwyg HTML editor. For it to catch on for anything more than the occasional shared doc, it needs to add a whole bunch of features that leverage its social usage. Here are the ones that spring to mind. Please add your own mind-springers…

Create groups of users + permissions that can be managed and easily applied to a document.

Apply groups to folders, not just individual docs, so that any doc put in that folder inherits those permissions by default.

Name versions so if you want to remember the draft that tried switching sections one and two, you can find it again

View and delete comments by commenter.

Make the document file browser far more powerful, as if it were a view into a database of docs, which of course it is. E.g., browse by permissions, by project, by workflow status (in progress, published), by “smart” folders, etc.

Create CSS style sheets that can be applied at will. (Yes, you can already hand-create CSS for individual documents.)


I don’t mean to look a gift horse in the mouth, except I entirely do.

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