Google Docs Spreadsheets Gets More Sophisticated


The second new feature lets you . Previously, it was only possible to create a graph by clicking and dragging to select a single range of data, or by specifying a range of cells that neighbored each other. However, it's now possible to create a graph containing data only at the top and bottom of a range of data, for example, or even to graph data in two separate areas of a spreadsheet, provided they're similar enough (meaning they have the same headings).

To do so, select the initial data and click the graphing button on the toolbar. Then click the Select Ranges link and, in the dialog box that appears, click the Add Another Range link. Then click and drag to select the new range. Repeat until all the data required is selected.

Also new to all Google Docs apps is the capability to convert older documents so they can be edited using , which allows real-time collaborative editing. The conversion button will appear as an option whenever any old document is opened, and there's a chance to preview the document to ensure the formatting remains intact. Google warns that there are some issues with how tables are handled, so previewing is probably a good idea.

Google describes the new spreadsheet features as being among their most requested, and it's not unreasonable to wonder why such essential functions have taken so long to arrive. After all, Google Docs' spreadsheets have been with us for five years now.

However, as the introduction of the new collaborative editing system this time last year proves, Google simply has different priorities for its Docs suite. There's nothing to be gained by recreating Microsoft Office online. Most people already have Office on their business computers and, even if they don't, they can get a compatible analog in the form of LibreOffice or OpenOffice. Instead, Google is introducing the power of the cloud to the office suite concept.