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Saturday, April 28, 2007

A Google File-Type Control Center

Google’s CEO says, “We would never trap user data.” Google’s Matt Cutts emphasizes the company philosophy to “send your users away happy and they’ll come back.”

One way for Google to increase the interoperability of their tools would be to open a file-type control center to the world. For example, when you right-click a file of the “offline operating system” Windows, you can select a list of applications from the “Open with...” box. But where’s this box in the online operating system Google is building?

Take Gmail. When someone sends you a *.doc attachment, Google offers you to open this as HTML page, to open it with Google Docs, or to download it to your hard disk. But what if your rich text editor of choice is the non-Google online app Zoho Writer? Then you need to download the file, and upload it again, which isn’t complicated but not as smooth as the Google Docs integration (and it requires you to jump to the “offline OS” again).

A Google File-type Control Center would require two features. First, for other applications to add their own file-type association, approved by you, of course. So Zoho Writer could offer a button reading “Associate rich-text files with Zoho,” and the button would send a post to “” (or so) with information about the URL with which Google should post documents of this file-type in the future, e.g. “” (this URL, called without a post, could also return some XML packet containing icon information and the application’s name and such for other applications to spider it). Log in with your Google Account if you aren’t already, and then hit “OK” to approve this association.

Second, this application would offer you a settings dialog where you could view & manage your existing file-type associations (e.g. reset all settings to Google’s default associations, or delete a single entry, or manually adjust one of the associated URLs to which Google should post information). This settings dialog could be linked to from your Google Account homepage, and it could also be linked to from places within the Google Office where you open files, like by the use of an “Open with...” link.


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