Drawing with Google Docs

Google Docs has just released a new “Drawing” item that you can use to create flowcharts and diagrams or just doodle with the curvey line tool to draw what you like. I’ll even give the Docs Drawing feature a go on an iPad and post some pics as soon as I can.

For artists it’s amazingly responsive, but probably not for any kind of detailed artworks or designs. It would be great for a quick concept idea though that you can then save and reference later.

With the inherent ability to ‘share’ documents in Google Docs, it becomes pretty much a faster, better, more extensive and cross-OS compatible version of NetMeeting. It’s live too, and almost instant, and it’s amazingly amusing to be drawing on the screen as you see words and shapes appear that a friend is drawing at the same time! You could use it to play O’s and X’s with friends working in other offices or anywhere in the world.

One really big plus is that each element you draw remains it’s own object, and you can then select multiple items and group them as you would in Photoshop. You can also move them forward and back using ctrl+up or down. It doesn’t support layers, but having independent items you can move, resize, group and send forward & back after you’ve drawn them is 99% there for most purposes.  I’d like to see 2 features added though; layers (even just a top and bottom layer, so you can hide or show the top one on a button press), and a Handwriting feature for use on devices like the ipad (which I will be able to test it on in a matter of hours and post an update, maybe with pics!).

Apart from the fun of it at first glance, it’s going to be a great collaboration tool for business use.  There’s plenty of ready made shapes to use, including arrows, that you can double-click to add text to. Flow charts, diagrams, business processes and systems, even slides for a presentation can be built quite quickly and easily. You can even add images from your computer to the drawing stage.

There’s heaps of things I’m going to start using this new document type for – flowcharts ofcourse, and systems design, but also it would be great for sharing Dungeons and Dragons maps with grid lines and moveable player elements (!!!) and probably a lot more.

Check it out in your google docs account today. If you don’t already have a Docs account, you should probably go get one before I release the digital hounds on you to get you off my website!

(iPad Update: Drawing with Google Docs doesn’t work. You press the screen and drag your finger thinking you can draw a line or make a shape, but alas, the iPad just thinks you want to scroll and nothing appears on the stage.)

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