What is googledocs?

Introduction

In this report analyzed googleDocs, how awareness is supported by this tool and how the mechanisms provide for sharing awareness information between collaborators. In a collaborative environment, "awareness is an understanding of the activities of others, which provides a context for your own activity" [1]. In a true collaborative environment, each contributor has an almost equal ability to add, edit, and remove text. The writing process becomes a recursive task, where each change prompts others to make more changes [2].

What is GoogleDocs?

GoogleDocs application developed using web based technologies (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) which allows users to write different kind of information in a shared workspace. Using GoogleDocs one can create documents, spreadsheets and presentations online and also group of users can create and edit a document collaboratively.

Users can do all the basics work like: make bullet in the list, column sorting, table add, comments add, adding formula, fonts change, color change of the text and more. Google Docs accept different file format like: DOC, PPT, XLS, RTF, etc [3].

The Google document can be access by the Google Gmail account and the link can be found at the upper left side when logging into Gmail account.

Positive Features related to awareness

§ Sharing with others

For sharing and collaborating in real time, user just enters the email addresses of the people with whom he wants to share a given document and send them an invitation. This person can be invited as a to edit or just as a viewer. The editor can edits the document but the viewer can just read the documents and can just see the edits which have been performed to the document.

§ Safely store and organize work

User can edit and access from anywhere and no necessary to download. It is also safely storage system for group work to work with partner. For example: I have done my scientific writing report with my partner using GoogleDocs online sharing and auto save storage system. We have created a folder for our all test edit, image add, changing font, color, making bullet list and we saved our file .doc, PPT, pdf format.

§ Online Publishing

Google Docs Spreadsheet also lets user to publish his document like an ordinary on line web page. It is particularly useful when there are users who are not a part of the system (external users). With Google Apps, it's even easier to share important documents, spreadsheets and presentations within a company or a group. In order to keep the aware with the latest version of the document, system has an automatic update mechanism which re-publishes when changes are made.

§ Access Control

Access control is a good example of awareness Google Docs Spreadsheet. It gives the users the ability to see who is seeing the document. It also enables the document owner to set document permissions: some users can only view the document while others have write access and can edit it.

§ Comments

Comment is a mechanism by which people working on a document could comment on the document. Comments appear where they were originally placed and separate from the original text. They also show who has created them. We can say that this feature is more close to "shared feedback" because its information is something that indirectly affects user's information about the shared environment.

§ Revision History of a group task

One of the best features of this system is its revision history. Revision history provides that who have been done on the documents, name of the editor who did the revision, the date and time of the revision. It has different color option for each editor by this color it can easily understand that who wrote what.

Negative Features related to awareness

  • May be the main problem of the Google Docs is that there is no automatic sign that shows the user what other editors are doing (changing the fonts, colors, text or so on). The only way which system provides is adding comments. One should add comments for awareness of others about what he is going to edit. Lack of a good awareness method in this situation may cause some conflicts, or redoing of some activities.
  • If two editors are editing the document it is not possible to know where there editing which may cause some undesired events like doing the same work with two or more participants, or interrupting one's work by another.
  • For revision history it has a button for comparing different revisions and also can use different colors for each author, it can easily be understood that who wrote what. But the problem is that just the added sections are shown but not the deleted sections.

Suggestions

  • There is no present any kind of audio and video information in Google docs. Google has chat option by Google talk and by using Google talk editors can collaborate with other editors. I think if the combining features of Google talk with Google Docs it could be helpful for editors. By combining features editors can collaborate with his partner using audio and video information.
  • If editors are working at the same time like added and deleted their tasks, Google docs can use graphical interface. For example: each editor participates with his specific color like editors Sattar color is: Blue, editor Alis color is: Green. When Editor Sattar deletes some part instead of completely deleting the section just blue line is added over the texts of that section. If Editor Sattar adds something to the context, the new texts appears with blue background. I think if Google Docs use this coloring for each editors then editing collision problem will be solve and also will be faster their editing.

References

1. Dourish, P & Bellotti, V. (1992) Awareness and coordination in Shared Workspaces. In Proceedings of CSCW'92.

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collaborative_writing Visited date: March 08, 2010 , Time: 9:45PM

3. http://www.google.com/google-d-s/intl/en/tour1.html Visited date: March 08, 2010, Time: 10:57PM

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