More Office/Docs Integration with Suggested Edits

Click to Enlarge; Opens in New Window.


Google recently added Suggested Edits to Google Docs as a way to make edits that can be accepted or rejected by the owner.   As many of us still work with people still using Microsoft Word, and some of us still use Word for some tasks, Google is extending Suggested Edits to further improve interoperability between Google Docs and Microsoft Word.

When opening a Microsoft Word .docx file in Google Docs, “Tracked Changes” are now converted to “Suggested Edits”.

The biggest concern for most users about moving to Google Docs is the ability to work with those still using Word.  With this new feature, the gap continues to narrow.


Drive vs Docs = New Google URLs

google drive
Google Drive and Google Docs are no longer the same thing.  As Google expanded the file service capabilities of Drive, Docs and Drive were separated to better reflect Docs as the office productivity tools and Drive as the secure file service.

Recently, Google made changes to ensure this distinction is evident in the URLs we use to access these services.

  • still points to Google Drive, and<domain> still takes you to your Google Drive page
  • will soon point to a new Google Docs homepage that takes you directly to the Google Doc apps

We recommend updating your bookmarks as well as your custom URL mappings.

If you need a hand with your custom URL mappings, please let us know.

Bonus: More Ways to Collaborate in Google Apps

Google Apps is designed for secure sharing and collaborations.  Many users, however, still rely on the back-and-forth of email to get their work done.  Here is bonus (more than our 5th) other way to collaborate in Google Apps.

Suggested Edits in Google Docs

Even die-hard users of that “old school” office suite acknowledge that using Google Docs makes it easier to work in one place.  Sharing a document rather than emailing back and forth is more efficient, more effective, and way more cool.

Sometimes, you don’t want to give other full access to edit; you would rather have them make suggestions that you could accept, reject, or modify.  New to Google Docs, collaborators with “Comment” access to your Docs can now make Suggested Edits.  As the owner, you can then accept or reject the suggestions as part of your document review.

Want to experience real-time collaboration first-hand?  Contact us and we will setup a solutions site just for you and your team.

4th of 5: More Ways to Collaborate in Google Apps

Google Apps is designed for secure sharing and collaborations.  Many users, however, still rely on the back-and-forth of email to get their work done.  Here is the 4th of 5 other ways to collaborate in Google Apps.

Comments and Real-Time Chats in Google Docs

You already know that, with permission, colleagues can view and edit shared documents together in real-time.  They can also engage in real-time chat from directly within the document windows.  Instead of calling a meeting, or setting up a conference call or hangout, team members can ask questions, suggest edits, and provide feedback immediately while working on the document.

If team members are working on the document at different times, they can highlight text and add a comment.  Visible in the margin, fellow collaborators are notified by email of the comments and receive a link that opens the document at the comment.  Comments can be directed to specific team members and team members can respond to directed requests by replying to the email.

Once a comment thread is finished, or the issue resolved, mark the comment as “resolved”. While the comment disappears from view, comments remain part of the document history and can be recalled should questions arise down the road.

Helping users get the most out of Google Apps is one of the reasons we offer a range of training and professional development services.  Contact us if you want to learn more.


Helpful Hint: Modern Preview in Google Drive


In the beginning, seeing a preview of documents in Google Drive meant clicking an link and waiting for a new browser window or browser tab to open up.  Your preview would appear, if the file type was compatible, surrounded by all the menu bars and trappings of a Google Doc screen.

All that is changing.Google Drive Preview

Google is rolling out a new preview for files in Google Drive, starting now.

Google Drive will let you quickly preview more than 30 file types and quickly flip between files until you find the one you want.  You’ll see the new preview automatically if you open a photo, video, or PDF. To see a preview of a Google document, right-click on the file name and select “preview.”

Once the preview window is open, you can …

  • Click on the arrows on either side to flip to other files.
  • Watch video files or scroll through multi-page documents.
  • Select and copy text from the preview — even for a PDF or Microsoft Word document
  • Use the zoom buttons to see a file in more detail.

Each file preview also gives you one-click access to share, download, print or open a file for editing. 

Lower Legal Bills: Real Value From Google Apps

One of the most tiresome and expensive aspects of contract negotiations is the “redlining” process that takes place as both parties wordsmith the legalese to accurately reflect the agreement and the intent of the parties.

As both parties, using “track changes” make modifications, the document becomes a rainbow of colored words with strike-through, underline, and change bars.  Multiple copies of each version — with and without changes visible (to keep the documents readable)  — zip back and forth as email attachments.  With each iteration, it takes more time and effort to understand, assess, and process the proposed wording.  As important, the history of what was written two versions or more in the past is often lost.

Both parties waste time — and money — keeping track of versions while trying to agree on wording, meaning, and intent.

Stop the Madness !!

Enter Google Apps for Business and the Comments feature in Google Docs.

One party creates or converts the initial draft agreement into a Document in Google Docs and grants the other party “Comment” permissions.  Both parties can now highlight text, suggest new wording, and make notes about intent.  As the parties add comments, the other party is notified so that the discussion keeps moving forward.

Each party can respond directly to the other’s comments in the document or by responding to the notification emails.  The owner of the document and make edits, solicit feedback, and get acceptance.  As the parties agree to intent and wording, they “resolve” each comment thread.  While the thread is no longer visible, it is a permanent part of the document.

When the parties are in full agreement, and all comment threads are inactive, the results are stunning.  The parties end up with:

  • A clean document ready for printing and signatures (physical or electronic)
  • A full record of all of the comment threads — discussions leading to agreement — on the wording, meaning, and intent of the document’s content
  • A full revision history of changes made to the document over the course of the negotiations

And, most importantly, these results did not require the time and money usually wasted managing multiple versions and files, figuring out file names and last modified dates, or playing with “track changes” and “compare documents”.

The results you want and need, more efficiently.  Real Value from Google Apps.


Inbox Size versus Email Relevance

Now that many email services are matching Google Apps’ 25GB inbox, the IT folks areA Clean Inbox wondering if users really need that much space and if mailbox limits are still a good practice.  For most companies, the answer lies in how users use email.

Most emails lose value over time.  Like most conversations, the value of the discussion itself fades once the conclusion or result is reached.  Granted, emails dealing with legal, contract, or financial issues have historical value and should be kept around.  But think about the back-and-forth emails for scheduling a lunch meeting and picking a location.  The conversation is fine; the end result is what really matters.

Use and content are more important than size. For users that do not have mobile access to documents, saving emails with attachments may be the only way to access important information in a timely manner.  For these users, large mailboxes seem useful.

For users addressing customer service issues, emails from past cases create unnecessary clutter in the inbox and folders that can lead to disorganization and inefficiencies.  For these users, limiting inbox sizes forces organization.  Combined with an archive, customer related information is not lost while users have a cleaner environment.

And while some users believe that they need to keep everything and that they will need access to any past email at any point in the future, reality dictates that the need to go back to old emails is very limited.  For these users, the discussion is philosophical more than pragmatic.

The challenge for the IT team, is that nearly every organization has all types of users.

You can provide a common solution. Instead of focusing on “how much” space to provide users, focus on “information value”.  Users should have immediate access to information contained in emails that they need to perform efficiently and effectively.

Taking this point of view, email services can meet all user needs when:

  • Users have local, remote, and mobile access to collaboration tools and shared file services, eliminating the need for sending documents as attachments.
  • The system automatically archives email messages, potentially indefinitely, for future viewing by the end user.
  • Users can automatically groom they size of their inbox and email folders based on age, rather than volume, letting users keep and focus on information with the greatest value.

Creating an email service with these attributes eliminates concerns about remote/mobile access, sending/receiving messages with large attachments, and user efficiency.

The good news: The integrated tools within Google Apps — Gmail, Docs, Drive, and remote services — along with Google Apps Vault (or Message Archive & Discovery) deliver this ecosystem without complex configuration and expensive infrastructure.

Office 2013 – Much Ado About Nothing New


Microsoft recently announced and started providing demonstrations of Office 2013.  And as discussed in this Vanity Fair article, it is clear that Microsoft continues to suffer from lack of innovation.  The number of new features is limited, many of the new features are playing “catch up”, and Office 2013 will lock you into a closed ecosystem.

Here is some of what is “new” in Office 2013:

  • Office 2013 will work with touch and stylus devices like tablets and smart-phones.  You will be able to navigate and annotate documents using touch, much like you can today with a mouse in Powerpoint.  (Not really a new feature, but you can use a touch screen instead of a mouse)
  • Excel 2013 has a few new advanced analytic features that will be useful to hedge fund managers and the like.

Here is some of what is in Office 2013 that is new to Office, but catching up with the competition:

  • In Outlook, you can reply in-line (just like Gmail’s conversation view)
  • In Outlook calendar, you can put an address in the location of a meeting and have a link to pull up a map on Bing (just like Google Calendar)
  • You can save a file on your PC and access it on other devices nearly immediately via cloud storage (just like Google Drive and Docs has allowed for years, as have Box, Dropbox, and others)
  • You can have real-time video chat (just like Google Talk), but only if you install a thick client

Here is what you will NOT see with Office 2013:

  • Real-Time Collaboration:  Users are limited to co-authoring — serial editing by one user at a time
  • Office 2013 running on much of your existing equipment:  Office 2013 will only run on Windows 8.  Get ready to pay to upgrade your operating system and your desktops and laptops in order to install Windows 8 and Office 2013
  • Good Support for Macs.  Macs are second class when it comes to MS Office in general, and with the “Windows 8” only message from Microsoft, it is unclear if a full version of Office 2013 will even make it to the Mac platform
  • Smartphone / Tablet Integration:  Granted, you will be able to run Office 2013 (and connect via Office 365) from MS Surface tables and Windows 8 phones — but who is buying those?  Microsoft is hedging on support for iOS (iPhone/iPad) support and has said nothing about Android-based devices.  If you want to run Office 2013 anywhere, be prepared to change your mobile device strategy.

As noted in this analysis of Microsoft’s 2012 10-K filing on ZDnet. Microsoft is clearly using Office 2013 and Windows 8 to create a vertically integrated ecosystem designed to block out other technologies.  The question is, do you want to lock your business into an ecosystem and a company that has failed, and continues to struggle, to innovate?

Google Drive or Overdrive?

As more organizations expand their use of Google Apps beyond email into file services, the question of how to best use Google Drive becomes important.  In a previous post, we compared centralized versus distributed use of additional storage.

For many organizations, the question remains as to how best to integrate Google Drive andGoogle Drive Additional Storage with existing, legacy apps on servers and client systems.  Beyond whether or not MS Office stays around, companies often have other systems that run locally using local disk or network drives.

The Google Drive client provides and easy, free, means to sync local data storage with Google Drive and Storage.  The utility, however, has a few limitations:

  • Synchronization of files happens between the My Drive hierarchy in the Google Apps Cloud and a local “Google Drive” folder.  While you can select where the “Google Drive” folder lives, you cannot map existing folders.
  • Users must know where to find and save documents they want synchronized between local disk space and Google Drive.
  • You cannot select specific folders in Google Drive to synchronize down to the client.
  • If a folder is “shared with” a user in Google Drive, the user needs to “move” it under “My Drive” for it to sync to their local disk.

While not a reason to avoid using Google Apps as a file service, using the Google Drive client limits how you deploy your solution and creates some training elements.

Our recommendation is to create a file service using Google Drive that keeps the look and feel of a traditional file service for the end users.   Doing so mitigates training and migration issues and avoids a range of technical issues related to supporting legacy applications.

Look for a solution that offers:

  • A server-specific synchronization tool that does not interfere with existing drive mappings and/or shared network folders.
  • The ability to specify specific folders in Google Drive and/or locally for synchronization.
  • The ability to provide gateway access to cloud-only storage that looks and feels like traditional network disk space.
  • Client applications that run on Windows, Mac, and popular smart phone platforms.
  • That can connect to multiple cloud storage solutions, giving you flexibility in how you configure primary, secondary, and/or archive storage.

While you may spend a few dollars per user per year to get the environment you want, you will see returns.  You should be able to extend the life or retire existing server hardware. With direct access to files, you should be able to reduce (or eliminate) your remote access solutions and/or VPN services, thereby reducing administration, licensing, and support costs.  And best of all, improved collaboration and secure access to information means better productivity for your team and better business results.



Tuesday Take-Away: Version Control with Google Drive

Google Drive, an integrated component of Google Apps, helps you use Google Apps as a secure file service.  With this capability, you benefit from the revision control built into Google Docs.

Revision Control when Uploading via the Web Interface

When you upload files from the main Google Drive screen, every upload is treated as a separate file, even if the name and source of the file are identical to a previously uploaded file.

To upload a new version of an existing file:

  • Right click on the file name
  • Select Manage Revisions … from the menu
  • Click on Upload New Revision

Revision Control with the Google Drive Sync

If you are running Google Drive on your desktop, every time you save a file, Drive will sync the new revision to Google Docs storage automatically.

Important Retention Rules

By default, Google keeps prior revisions for 30 days and limits the number of revisions to 100.    This means that:

  • Documents that have not been modified for more than 30 days will only have the most recent version available.
  • Auto save features can user up your 100 revision limit quickly.

As an extreme example, if MS Word is set to auto save every 3 minutes and you are editing a document all day, you will only have revisions for the most resent 5 hours.

You can elect to prevent auto deletion for specific revisions by using the same Manage Revisions screen as noted above.  Doing so, however, increases the amount of storage used for the file.