Google Docs adds Visio killer, collaborative editing in Google Wave style

Google Docs collaboration

When Microsoft demoed the Office Web Apps, we noted that nobody knows what will Google Docs look like when Office 2010 finally launch. MS Office Web will appear at least in 2 months and this question is still relevant. While Microsoft is fixing bugs in its web office, Google is constantly improving Docs. The new version of Google Docs features the significantly improved collaborative editing technology. It has a sidebar, which displays a list of users who are editing or viewing the document right now. On the same panel is chat. Each user is assigned a color and you can watch in real-time how your co-workers edit document (like in Google Wave or Etherpad). Moreover, this technology works in text documents and spreadsheets, and in the new Google Drawings.

Google Drawing

Google Drawings at first glance looks like a lightweight MS Visio. It allows to draw simple diagrams and graphic plans. But the new real-time collaboration technology transforms Google Drawings in Whiteboard which can be used for online meetings and presentations. While Visio, undoubtedly, has a larger library of graphical objects, but it can't be used in this way even in the upcoming Office 2010.

In addition, Google Docs significantly improved compatibility with Doc and Docx formats. Commenting in the margin, real-time spell-check and the ability to float images anywhere in the document are new features that come from faster capabilities within the application. Google Spreadsheets new features include drag-and-drop columns, auto-completion and formula editing bar.

The bad news is that new editors do not work with Gears. But the developers promise to add offline mode soon and it will work on HTML5. Maybe it will happen before the launch of MS Office Web.