Back to the drawing board?

Google recently removed the ability to email a document into your Google Docs account.  The little-used feature is being re-vamped to increase functionality and expand the number of supported file types.

Google Docs: Better Sharing, Export, and Search

It is now easier to find, export, and share documents from Google Docs.  Here is how.

Export All as a zip file:

Select one or more files and then click on “Export” from the “More Actions” menu. Next, pick the format (e.g. PDF etc) you want for your exported files. Here you now also have the option to “Export all your files” up to 2GB into a single zip file. It can sometimes take a few minutes to download so you also have an “email when ready” option to notify you when the zip file is ready. If your files are larger than 2GB then Docs will present a list of those that weren’t exported and you can export them to a zip file as normal.

Email as an attachment:

In the Docs list, select an item, click “Share” and select “Email as attachment…”. Then pick which format you want to use to send the item, compose your email, and click send.

Improved search:

Search for a document from the Docs list as normal. In the displayed results, click on the new button “Relevance” which lets you decide whether you’d like to sort your Docs list by “Relevance,” “Starred” or “Last Modified”.

Offline Gmail Options Get Real

Offline Gmail is officially out of beta.

Offline Gmail is a managed component of Google Apps that enables users to read, reply, and create messages when disconnected from the Internet.

Offline Gmail is one of several off-line options.  If you want to know more, contact us.

Premier vs Standard Edition

One of the advantages of upgrading to Google Apps Premier Edition is the ability to integrate your existing Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES).  In November, Google upgraded the connector in several ways:

  • Increased Capacity: Administrators can now run up to 500 users per Blackberry Enterprise Server
  • 64-bit Support: The Google Apps Connector now supports 64-bit Windows systems
  • Support for Blackberry Professional Software
  • Hosted Support: The Google Apps Connector now includes support for multiple companies on a single server
  • Enhanced Logging

For small and mid-size businesses, this means easier connectivity and emerging options to use 3rd party BES hosting services.  You can now get the full BES, native Blackberry, user experience for email, calendar, and contacts without the capital investment of running the BES server in-house.

Memeo Connect is Not Ready for Prime Time, Yet.

With the recent updates to Google Docs, users of Google Apps Premier and Education Editions can now save files of any time.  Added with the ability to affordably increase storage space, Google Apps is becoming a viable hosted file service.

To integrate Google Docs with end users’ local systems, several companies are building solutions, including Memeo.

After testing MemeoConnect and working through several support calls, we cannot recommend this as a solution … yet.  The software is lacking features we consider critical for usability.  Here is what we learned:

  • After starting MemeoConnect and entering our Google Apps credentials, the connection does not always happen.  Once in the software, there is now way to see why the state is disconnected and there is now way to attempt to reconnect.  You must exit and start over.  Also, when the connection does work, it often disconnects after some period of time without notice.  Our ability for MemeoConnect to initiate and stay connected to Google Apps was only about 40%.
  • When you pick a desktop or network folder to synchronize with  Google Docs, MemeoConnect automatically pulls in all subfolders.  You cannot granularly select just a folder.  As such, we ended up with drafts and previous versions of documents we did not want in Google Docs.
  • When moving documents up to Google Docs, everything ends up in the Root folder.  MemeoConnect does not create folders to mimic those on your desktop or server, and we could not figure out any way to tell MemeoConnect where to place the folders.
  • Once you add a folder to the sync process, there is no means to remove it.  Per a response from MemeoConnect, the only way to remove a folder from the sync list is to uninstall MemeoConnect and reinstall.   Not the most friendly or usable solution.
  • There is no means to see which local or network folders are setup to sync with Google Docs.

Surely, we expect Memeo will address these shortcomings in upcoming releases, at which time we will retest and review again.

One longer term concern, though, is the model.  MemeoConnect becomes another tool users must use to manage files.    Working locally and saving files to Google Docs using MemeoConnect still requires users to save locally, then run a program to ensure the file is copied up to Google Docs.  And, if the tool is not running, the synchronization does not happen.

Our preference is for tools that let you save to Google Docs and Sites from within your applications and for tools that you can setup to manage synchronization without additional user activities.

Google Spreadsheet Quick Tip

Sharing one of your spreadsheets  with others, but want some else to own it?  You can now change the owner of a Google Spreadsheet.  Simply use the Change Owner option More Actions menu.

More Viewing Options for Google Docs

Google recently added a few features to Google Docs that give you more options when opening and viewing documents.

You can now open documents in a new browser tab or window… simply set the “Where items open” option.

Also, if you prefer, you can turn off the “new” and bold indicators in your document screen when documents are added or modified.

You can learn more here.

Infinity Plus One

Last week, Google made a huge announcement about the Google Docs service under Google Apps Premier Edition.  To summarize:

  • Users can now upload documents of ANY TYPE to Google Docs
    • If you upload a file that can convert to Google Docs, you have the option to convert or to maintain the native format
    • Documents you convert still have size and format/feature limitations
    • Documents you do not convert remain in their native format and may be up to 250MB in size
  • More Space
    • You now have unlimited storage space for documents in Google Docs format (Document, Spreadsheet, Presentation, Forms)
    • Storage for documents kept in native format has been increased from 500MB to 1GB
  • Even More Space
    • You will be able to purchase more space
    • While rumors abound about the cost, Google has not released final pricing and has not provided resellers with the ability to add more space for their customers … yet.

The impact of these changes amazing.  Google Docs can now be used as a virtual file server.  Over the next few weeks, we will be evaluating tools that leverage these new capabilities and will post our findings here.