File Under: Software & Tools

Google Docs, Google Groups Catch the Real-Time Sharing Wave

Google has introduced a much easier way to share documents for online, collaborative editing — using Google Groups.

Previously, sharing Google Docs and Calendars was limited to two basic options, the entire world (public docs) or individual e-mail addresses added by hand. But what about situations where you want to share a document with, say, several hundred people on a mailing list?

Provided your mailing list is through Google Groups, now you can do just that. The new Groups sharing feature adds an option to share Docs, Calendars and Sites with all the members of a Google Group. The group’s members can then simultaneously open and edit the same document, and everyone you’re sharing with will see the other parties’ edits appear as the doc updates every few seconds.

While the new features aren’t exactly as slick as what we’ve seen in previews of Google Wave (the company’s experimental, collaborative editing tool), they do offer similar automatic, “just works” style sharing with almost zero latency. And, unlike Wave, these sharing features are here today. Google is expected to open up public access to Google Wave on September 30. It is also strongly expected to develop Wave into a full-fledged web-based platform, complete with add-on applications from third parties which take advantage of the platform’s real-time updating capabilities. So, it’s possible this enhancement to Google Docs’s sharing ability is just a sign of more powerful real-time sharing to come.

If you want to share a document with a Google Group, just type the Group’s email address (groupname@googlegroups.com) in the sharing dialog and your document will be automatically shared with all your group’s members. But the real win is the new automatic updating. As people come and go from your group, the shared document’s list of approved editors (or viewers, if you don’t hand out editing rights) updates as well, adding new members as they join the group and dropping the old when they leave.

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