Google Docs improved HTML5-based offline

Google Docs has been constantly updated since 2006, Writely and Google Spreadsheets have merged, but adding new features became increasingly difficult. Now that browsers are much better than they were four years ago and cutting-edge apps like Google Wave can run in a browser, it was time for a new beginning.

“We decided to rebuild the underlying infrastructure of Docs to give us greater flexibility, improved performance and a better platform for developing new features quickly. Today, we’re pleased to announce preview versions of the new Google document and spreadsheet editors and a new standalone drawings editor, all built with an even greater focus on speed and collaboration,” says Jonathan Rochelle.

The new versions of the Google Docs will be rolled out in the coming days and you’ll be able to try them when you see a message at the top of the page: “New version”.

Besides using a new infrastructure, the document editor and the spreadsheet editor will add many new features. The document editor has real-time editing, sidebar chat, a new commenting system, better formatting and an improved importing feature. The spreadsheet editor brings back auto-complete, adds a formula bar for editing cells and you can now drag and drop columns.

There’s also an application for creating drawing collaboratively: Google Drawings. “The new standalone drawings editor lets you collaborate in real time on flow charts, designs, diagrams and other fun or business graphics. Copy these drawings into documents, spreadsheets and presentations using the web clipboard, or share and publish drawings just like other Google Docs.”

Google Enterprise Blog says that the offline mode will be transitioned from Google Gears to the native HTML5 implementation. “The new Google Docs editors will take advantage of faster rendering engines in modern browsers as well as new web standards like HTML5. As a result, we need to temporarily remove offline support for Docs starting May 3rd, 2010. We know that this is an important feature for some of you, and we are working hard to bring a new and improved HTML5-based offline option back to Google Docs.”

Google Docs really needed a major update, especially now when Microsoft Office’s web apps are about to be launched.

{ Thanks, Jonah. }

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