Add-ons for Google Docs and Sheets

Google has snuck out some rather cool new functionality to its cloud based productivity suite Google Drive.

Called add-ons, you can now use them to add extra functionality to your Google Docs and Spreadsheets experience.

Here’s a video explaining it all:


So what are these add-ons and what do they do?

Lucky for us that Lifehacker has produced a list of the best ones. They include:

  • HelloFax, which lets you fax a Google Doc without leaving the app
  • Mapping sheets lets you take a spreadsheet full of address information and put it all on a Google Map
  • UberConference – lets you set up and run a conference call from within your Google Doc. Great for collaborating across distances
  • Track Changes – gives you reviewing tools a bit more like those you are used to in Word

These are just some of those currently available – it will be interesting to see what will come in time as developers get to work.

Collaboration ground rules

groundrules_bSometimes to make collaboration work you need to set some ground rules.

It’s easy to say, “let’s start up a google doc!” – and imagine everyone leaping in to give their ideas. But it’s not so simple as that, especially if folk haven’t had the experience or confidence in this way of working.

Instead it’s necessary to have a think about how the collaborative activity might be approached, and ensure everyone is aware of the process you have selected.

Often this will be the case when the technology available is a bit lacking. As an example, a recent collaborative effort I started was based in a ‘Note’ within a group on Yammer. Notes are the collaborative writing part of Yammer, but they aren’t terribly sophisticated and won’t allow you to use formatting such as tables.

So, I spent a bit of time describing how to add ideas to the list. I came up with a fairly simple process that involved a bold heading for each new item, with two bullets points underneath for other related information to be recorded.

Without this introduction, people may have been unsure what to do, and so not bother, or even accidentally start hacking up what others had written.

At the very least, when working on a Google Doc with others, for example, I’ll put “No deletions!” at the top as a general rule to people.

Any other collaboration ground rule tips to share?