Collaborative online office solutions

Many Cooks


Google Docs offers numerous functions for collaborative work. Several users can edit a document simultaneously, and all users can track changes. To share a document, the author first presses the Share button (Figure 7) top right in the browser window. This opens a small dialog, through which to invite other users to edit the document.

Figure 7: Users press the blue Share button to start collaborating on the document.

Two options are available. If the owner of the document sends a specially generated link, all users who have this link are allowed to view the document. However, you cannot edit it in this mode.

Using the option Share with Persons and Groups , the owner can invite specific persons or groups to collaborate on the document. These people also will need a Google account. After entering the email address, Google sends a link it generates to the recipient. The recipient then starts Google Docs by clicking an activation button in the email and calling up the corresponding document.

Various options for working on the document in a team are displayed at the top right in the browser window. A speech bubble icon lets you send and view comments. To the left of this, the names of the users who are currently working on the document online appear in the form of short symbols. They can also be addressed directly via the chat function.


A mouse click on the Open Comment History button shows the previous comments. You can add your own comments by clicking on the Comment button. Once you do this, the term in the document where the cursor is positioned will appear with yellow highlighting, and Google Docs will open the comment area vertically on the right. You can then post your comment in a field for free-text input.

After clicking on the Comment button, the comment is displayed in real time for all participants. Google stores these flags in the document in color. In this way, all recipients can see at a glance to which part of the document the comment refers.

If a user wants to mark a comment as edited or resolved, they simply click on the check mark to the right of the comment window. Google Docs will then hide this note in the comment column.

Chat Function

Users working on the document may also want to chat to each other. This option is especially helpful if individual participants want to exchange information beyond the scope of the comment function.

The chat appears in an ongoing session when a user clicks on the Show Chat button to the right of the respective participant. You can then type your message in an input box that appears in another column on the right side of the browser window (Figure 8). Because Google Docs maintains the chat column independently of the document and the comment column linked to it, problems can occur – especially on screens with lower resolution. The user then needs to scroll back and forth to view the columns to the right of the document.

Figure 8: Google Docs displays the chat and comments in separate columns.

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