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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Google Office Hacks, an Upcoming Book

I’m happy to tell you I’ve started writing a book with O’Reilly’s Maker Media group, currently titled Google Office Hacks! The book will not focus on search, but on the existing & growing applications suite Google provides. It will provide tricks to get things done with Google Docs, Google Spreadsheets, Gmail, Google Calendar, iGoogle, Google Analytics, Maps, YouTube, SketchUp, Presentations (if Google decides to release it!) and more. In particular, my editor Brian Jepson and I will focus on hacking the Google office “into shape" for tasks where there is just no official Google menu entry, setting or button to do this in any “normal” way. Also, hacks will show advanced program uses, or just give you ideas for creative workarounds. For instance, yesterday I wrote a chapter on how to automatically add a linked Table of Contents to your Google document using a bookmarklet.

For this book, we’d love to get your hacks in it too. What we’re looking for are both problems and solutions. A problem could be, “How do I do X and Y in Google Spreadsheets?”, and that’s great input because it might inspire a solution. A solution, on the other hand, is a hack you saw somewhere or invented yourself that solves one of these problems in the “Google OS.” For that purpose, please use this post’s comments thread for any suggestions, or email me links or ideas at It would be cool to have many experts in the book. Naturally I’ll keep scouring forum threads or Google news, and keep looking out for hacks in places like the great Google Operating System blog, to name just one.

On another note, I’m writing this book in Google Docs. I actually started the outline in Word until Brian – who blogs at O’Reilly’s Hackszine, another great source for Google hacks – suggested to do the obvious thing and write in the tools I’m writing about! And if you’re not working on an imported Word file (which can be a pain to edit in Google Docs), it’s actually a lot of fun. When I wrote a chapter draft, I invite Brian to the document, he gets an email, and can then make his edits on the same document. Then I can check the revision history and his comments and if needed, edit the chapter once more.


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