Google Docs Goes Native

Google Docs was once an appli­ca­tion that was “like Microsoft Word” or “like Pow­er­Point”, and could read and write files from those pro­grams as well as Excel. But mainly, you under­stood that you were edit­ing your file and stor­ing it, in Google’s pro­pri­etary format.

Then, in Jan­u­ary 2010, Google announced that they would allow users to store any file for­mat in their Google Docs envi­ron­ment. That started to look like another cloud stor­age offer­ing. Frankly, it didn’t make a lot of sense to upload files you can­not even open in that envi­ron­ment. Google took a big step toward address­ing that week, mak­ing some key for­mats natively view­able within Google Docs.

On their blog, they say:

The Google Docs Viewer is used by mil­lions of peo­ple every day to quickly view PDFs, Microsoft Word doc­u­ments and Pow­er­Point pre­sen­ta­tions online. Not only is view­ing files in your browser far more secure than down­load­ing and open­ing them locally, but it also saves time and doesn’t clut­ter up your hard-drive with unwanted files.

Today we’re excited to launch sup­port for 12 new file types:

  • Microsoft Excel (.XLS and .XLSX)
  • Microsoft Pow­er­Point 2007 / 2010 (.PPTX)
  • Apple Pages (.PAGES)
  • Adobe Illus­tra­tor (.AI)
  • Adobe Pho­to­shop (.PSD)
  • Autodesk Auto­Cad (.DXF)
  • Scal­able Vec­tor Graph­ics (.SVG)
  • Post­Script (.EPS, .PS)
  • True­Type (.TTF)
  • XML Paper Spec­i­fi­ca­tion (.XPS)

Not only does this round out sup­port for the major Microsoft Office file types (we now sup­port DOC, DOCX, PPT, PPTX, XLS and XLSX), but it also adds quick view­ing capa­bil­i­ties for many of the most pop­u­lar and highly-requested doc­u­ment and image types.

In Gmail, these types of attach­ments will now show a “View” link, and click­ing on this link will bring up the Google Docs Viewer.

For me, one of the few annoy­ing aspects of how Gmail and Google Docs work together has been that, in the early days, sim­ply open­ing up a Word doc­u­ment in my Gmail would auto­mat­i­cally cre­ate a doc­u­ment in Google Docs, or that it wouldn’t allow me to pre­view it, and would force me to down­load the file. Now, I will sim­ply be able to View these doc­u­ments, and have them dis­ap­pear into the browser cache at the end of the session.

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