Google Updates Docs and Spreadsheets and Toolbar

Google updated Docs and Spreadsheets today. They did away with tagging and implemented folders instead. They’ve also added new keyboard shortcuts for those of us who like those things instead of a mouse. Rounding out the latest features are right to left text support and “easier invitations”.

The change was implemented without warning (at least none that I saw) which seems rather bold. While the changes are simple and easy to understand it’s a pretty significant UI change which always seems to cause problems when users encounter them without warning. Existing tags were converted to folders with the documents (that had the tag) in them. Documents that had multiple tags get put in multiple folders although all are actually the same document.

Starred documents are still marked with stars and there’s a folder for them. There’s also folders to hold documents by type, for documents you created, for trash and for documents you shared. OK, technically Google doesn’t call these folders and they aren’t included in “All Folders” but they’re in the folder pane.

Naturally there’s a search box up top so you can search your files.

The UI is pretty cool for a web interface. It was responsive to me like most Google stuff is. But it supported “Web 2.0” features like being able to drag a file into a folder. Dragging from one folder to another moves the doc, dragging from “All Documents” adds it to the folder.

One feature I really like in Google Docs is the ability to print to a PDF. This isn’t a new feature but I find it easier to use in the new interface since it can easily be done from the main page without having to open the document and print to pdf.

For what little I need a word processor or spreadsheet for I find Google Docs and Spreadsheets to be a good fit and the price is right. And being browser based it’s cross platform.

Firefox on my iMac also received an update of the Google Toolbar today. Based on the version number it was released May 25, 2007. I didn’t find the version listed in Google’s version history so I’m not sure what’s in it. I’m not a heavy user of the toolbar but I like the spellcheck (needed less with Firefox 2) and the ability to jump to one of the words in my search. Still, I only use it a couple times a week at most, usually sticking to the search box built into Firefox which is set to SearchMash (which is also by Google).