Since Google Docs debuted in October 2006, the free, web-based word processing, spreadsheet and presentation package has been continually adding more collaborative and interactive features, the latest of which is Gadgets-in-Docs: the ability to embed different gadgets in a spreadsheet.
Previously, Google Spreadsheets was a fairly basic, free tool that carried out run-of-the-mill calculations and presentations but now the Gadgets-in-Docs feature allows the embedding of various gadgets ranging from web and image search to pie charts, motion charts and heat maps inside the spreadsheet, rendering it much more visual and interactive.
Users can then publish the graphs, charts or animations of their data to their personal iGoogle homepage, as well as share it with viewers or collaborators. If added to the iGoogle homepage, the data inside is updated automatically if the spreadsheet is changed.
Adding to the Gadgets’ functionality, Spreadsheets has also added another element of collaboration called ‘notification rules’. The user can set notifications for various actions so they are emailed when something changes on a spreadsheet, or when other collaborators are added or removed from the document, or even notified when only specific cells are edited on the sheet.
When Google released its free, web-based productivity suite, Microsoft soon followed with its own version, Office Live Workspace. This is still in beta testing and does work in conjunction with the existing desktop Office suite but it does not have the same level of interactivity as Google Docs.
By Marie Boran
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