Regular readers will know how much I love Google’s online tools. I recently blogged about how Google Docs can be used to create open data formats and today I’ve taken this further by using Google Docs recently released Share Folders to prototype an easy document library. As usual I’ve used some public documents from City of Lincoln Council and you can find the results here.

What’s basically going on here is that I’ve created a root folder within Google Docs which I have set to be shared globally. Any folders and documents within this then automatically inherit this share permission, allowing them to be accessed by anyone. Simple. What it basically does is enable an organisation, be it a local authority, some business or anyone, to store all their public documentation online and logically categorise it for easy consumption. Combined with the fact that it’s all being delivered through Google Docs via embeds and therefore does not really require download by the end user then this becomes a brilliant way to distribute documents. It’s also very easy to keep updated and any changes made to native Google docs are reflected in real time.

There are, however a few niggling problems with this. The shared  folders do not have a search on them which would be fantastic, especially if they were to be used to store lots of documents. Also, there is no easy way to download the native Google documents in their “whizzy” open data formats (RTF, RSS etc) without “opening” them, despite the fact that they’re already open. This system will also be somewhat detached from an organisations main website, i.e. not easy to link in using traditional CMS commands (for basic CMS publishers) or included in search results. It would also be top if the shared folder generated its own RSS feed.

But, all in all, I think that this is a very good application of Google Docs, once again. The more Google adds to these cloud based services, the more we can look at using them creatively.

I’ve also started using this for myself – look down the right navbar and you’ll see a link to my public Google Docs. Anything I want to make public will go in here so check back often for new additions. Again, would be good if I could RSS it but – hey ho 🙂