If you’ve ever had to handle the editing of a Google Doc via comments, then you know it wasn’t the best system available. A right side column that showed the edits was effective, but certainly not easy to understand or use.
The Google Docs team has been hard at work and with the latest revision, we’re getting collaborative discussions that actually make sense. Oh, and they will also load in real-time, right as a commenter presses the button to show that they are finished. The comments will now be tied to the person who made them, allowing ownership of each one.
Discussions are able to be treated a bit like a ticket system now, where persons who are involved with them are able to show whether an issue that has been brought to light is still open, or if it has been resolved and the comment section can be considered closed.
There is now a mentions system available, as well. With it, you can tag someone by using an @ before their email address (@firstname.lastname@example.org for instance) and they will be sent an email on top of seeing the notification of their name being mentioned. From the email, they can choose to reply directly, or to head back to the document itself to add in the discussion within.
If you don’t yet have the new discussions system, you should in the next few days. The Docs team has apparently been munching on this dog food for quite some time and will be rolling it out quickly:
Discussions will be available over the next few days to all users with personal Google Accounts as well as to Google Apps customers on the Rapid Release track. Please note that improved comments are only available in new documents at this time so if you want to try it out make sure to create a new document. The comments you’ve created in existing document won’t be changed.
I’ve had the chance to play with the new Discussions in docs since yesterday. So far, it’s looking great and I’ve not yet had any complaints. Give it a shot and let us know what you think.