Google has recently added an entirely new type of document to their Office Cloud offerings (i.e., Google Docs). In addition to cloud software for wordprocessing, spreadsheets, and presentation (Powerpoint is the most well-know presentation software), Google has added drawing to its Google Docs suite.
Google's New Drawing Application in the Cloud
The Google Drawing software looks very much like a simple desktop drawing application with tools for selecting objects in the drawing, inserting shapes, adding lines (with optional arrowheads), a freeform drawing tool, adding polygon shapes, text boxes, and filling an area with “paint”. You can change the color of the bounding box (and the thickness of its lines), and the text color. You can rotate an object. You also have five useful menus will additional functions.
Drawings, besides being a native Google Docs file format, can also be saved and downloaded as jpeg, PNG, PDF, and SVG files. Note the third tool from the left in the toolbar. It is Google’s “web clipboard”. Drawings (or parts of drawings) copied to the web clipboard are saved in the cloud instead of on your computer. These drawings are retained in the cloud and can subsequently be pasted into other types of Google Docs (Wordprocessing, Spreadsheets, and Presentations). Items copied to the web clipboard stay in the cloud for a month, so you can choose which of several copied items to paste into a doc.
The web clipboard can also be used to copy a selection of cells in a spreadsheet and paste them into a different kind of document.
Can you give me an example of the advantages of cloud computing over desktop computing? Why, for example, would I want to create a Google Doc file in the cloud rather than a Word Document on my computer?
Suppose you had a Word Document on your computer and, just to play around, you uploaded that document to Google Docs. If you flew from your East Coast home to Los Angeles to visit with a friend, you’d see the cloud advantage (once your flight finally left the ground). The Google Doc file is available from your friend’s computer (PC, Mac, Linux). Your Word file is still sitting on your PC at home, completely useless to you in LA.
Your friend, who is looking over your shoulder, says, “That document is pretty good, but it needs to be polished. Too much use of the passive voice, too many pronouns with indefinite antecedents”. At this point you remember your friend majored in English. “Let me have a go at it and I’ll fix it up”, says your friend. So, you tell the cloud (Google Docs) to let your friend have access to the file as an editor so he can muck around with your prose.
You fly home (after another interminable wait at the airport) and pour a glass of wine, since those airport delays always leave you frazzled. You open your browser to your Google Docs account. You notice that your document now reads like it was written by an English major and you’re delighted with the changes your friend made. The only problem is that on the flight back (or was it while you were still on the tarmac waiting those two hours to take off?) you thought of one more thing that should be in the document. So you type, “It has been established by him that the cost of raw materials for this project is much higher than it needs to be.”
You go to refill your wine glass and when you return to look at what you just wrote, you find it now says, “Professor Johnston established that the cost of raw materials for this project is much too high”. Once again your friend has polished your file.
And working in the cloud is free, right? Right!
What’s all this cloud computing hype about? Isn’t cloud computing just another name for the internet?
The answer is: NO. Cloud computing uses the internet — and in fact couldn’t exist without the internet — but cloud computing implies a lot more than just using the internet. What makes a cloud differ from an ordinary website?
Characteristics of the cloud:
- The Cloud provides storage space for your files
- The cloud provides software to process your files (wordprocessor, photo editing, email, contact management,calendar, etc.)
- The cloud automatically backs up your files; copies of your files are stored in different geographical areas
- Data can be accessed by multiple users at the discretion of the creator of the data.
Cloud computing mirrors desktop computing. On a personal computer, data files are stored on a hard disk. The software to process these files is also stored on a hard disk. You sit down at your computer and double click on a “.doc” file and Microsoft Word launches to display the data in the file and to allow you to change it.
In cloud computing you sit down in front of your computer and launch your browser (internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.). You point you browser to a file in the cloud and select it, say a Google Doc file, and the Google Doc wordprocessing software launches. Google Docs shows you the data in the file and lets you change it.