A few weeks back Google updated the visibility controls for documents created using its Google Docs service and at the same time also introduced real-time collaboration to the site as well (likely being connected with the acquisition of Etherpad at the start of the year).
I’ve already been experimenting with these features in my successful list of creative curriculum topic ideas and thought I’d share a quick post to explain how to quickly and easily set up your own collaborative doc.
- Create a new document.
- Next to the document’s name, click the hyperlink saying ‘Private only to me’ to load up the sharing settings.
- By default your document is private and only you (and anybody else who you specifically give permission to) can access it. To change this, simply click the ‘change’ button in the box that appears on screen. Next, click the dot next to ‘Anyone with the link’ and tick the box next to ‘Allow anyone to edit’ – this will make it so that anyone who you share the document’s URL with can instantly access it and edit it.
- Anybody who opens your document can now make a range of edits – including changing font colours (a feature previously not included in Etherpad). Whilst Google Docs neatly tracks their editing location by means of a flashing coloured cursor, it unfortunately only displays user names of people who you’ve specifically shared the doc with (i.e. added to the collaborators list) and who have a Google profile – everyone else is simply shown as ‘Anonymous x’ (with x being a number). This obviously isn’t very helpful so I always make a point of adding a section at the bottom of any doc for contributors to add their names to so that their work can be credited.
- It’s worth pointing out that going to File > See Revision History will bring up all previous versions of your document. This can be helpful if you want to observe its development or if you want to revert the doc back to a previous version – such as when somebody mistakenly deletes part of it!