Tag Archives: docs

Announcing Season of Docs 2020

Google Open Source is delighted to announce Season of Docs 2020!

Season of Docs brings technical writers and open source projects together for a few months to work on open source documentation. 2019 was the first year of Season of Docs, bringing together open source organizations and technical writers to create 44 successful documentation projects!

Docs are key to open source success

Survey after survey show the importance of good documentation in how developers choose and use open source:
  • 72% of surveyed developers say “Established policies and documentation” is a key decision factor when choosing open source
  • 93% of surveyed developers say “Incomplete or outdated documentation is a pervasive problem” in open source
  • “Lack of documentation” was the top reason developers gave for deciding against using an open source project
Open source communities know this, and still struggle to produce good documentation. Why? Because creating documentation is hard. But...

There are people who know how to do docs well. Technical writers know how to structure a documentation site so that people can find and understand the content. They know how to write docs that fit the needs of their audience. Technical writers can also help optimize a community’s processes for open source contribution and onboarding new contributors.

Season of Docs brings open source projects and technical writers together with the shared goal of creating great documentation. The writers bring their expertise to the projects, and the project mentors help the technical writers learn more about open source and new technologies. Communities gain new docs contributors and technical writers gain valuable open source skills.

Together the technical writers and mentors build a new doc set, improve the structure of the existing docs, develop a much-needed tutorial, or improve contribution processes and guides. See more ideas for technical writing projects.

By working together in Season of Docs we raise awareness of open source, docs, and technical writing.

How does it work?

April 13 – May 4Open source organizations apply to take part in Season of Docs
May 11Google publishes the list of accepted mentoring organizations, along with their ideas for documentation projects
May 11 – July 9Technical writers choose the project they’d like to work on and submit their proposals to Season of Docs
August 10Google announces the accepted technical writer projects
August 11 – September 11Community bonding: Technical writers get to know mentors and the open source community, and refine their projects in collaboration with their mentors
September 11 – December 6Technical writers work with open source mentors on the accepted projects, and submit their work at the end of the period
January 7, 2021Google publishes the list of successfully-completed projects.
See the timeline for details, including the provision for projects that run longer than three months.

Join us

Explore the Season of Docs website at g.co/seasonofdocs to learn more about participating in the program. Use our logo and other promotional resources to spread the word. Check out the timeline and FAQ, and get ready to apply!

By Erin McKean, Google Open Source

Even without internet at home, students can keep learning

If your school is operating virtually as a result of COVID-19, you may be wondering how to continue teaching students who don’t have access to the internet at home, or who only have low-bandwidth access. Fortunately, there are many ways to keep Chromebooks and G Suite up and running even when online access is slow or unavailable. We’ve pulled together ideas for educators and school IT teams who want to encourage all students to keep learning, regardless of their online access. 

For edtech and IT teams: The basics of enabling offline access

Using Chromebooks and G Suite without Wi-Fi or low connectivity is relatively easy, but you may want to enlist your EdTech and IT teams to set up offline access for everyone. Here are the key steps in the process, along with useful Google support links. 

Keep in mind that people need to go through this process while they still have online access. Consider taking a few minutes to guide students and staff through the process while they’re on school Wi-Fi networks.

Step 1: To help students, teachers and staff work in G Suite offline, the first step is to enable offline access for all users. Your IT or EdTech team can do this from G Suite’s admin console using these instructions for managed devices; in the Features and Applications section of the Admin console, administrators can click “Allow users to enable offline access.” 

Step 2: G Suite users also need to download the Google Docs Offline extension for Chrome Browser, which will allow them to use Google Docs, Sheets, Drive and Slides without online access. 

Step 3: Finally, people should turn on offline access for the G Suite applications they’d like to use before they go offline. Share these instructions for opening G Suite files offline. It’s a good idea to ask students to test that offline access is working properly; help them turn off W-iFi access and try to access a G Suite file. Students can download notes from Slides, Docs, and more, and download the lectures from Classroom and Drive to watch later if they do not have internet at home.

For teachers: Things to do offline

Remind students that even if they don’t have Wi-Fi access away from school, there’s a lot that they can do with their Chromebooks:

For edtech and IT teams: Chrome extensions that work offline

Encourage students to use Chrome extensions that help them do classwork while offline--and ask your edtech or IT team to push out the extensions to all G Suite and Chromebook users. Search theChromebook App Hub or the Chrome Web Store using the “runs offline” option to find useful extensions, or start with Screencastify for recording and editing videos and Soundtrap for recording and saving audio files. 

Tips from teachers

Teachers are already brainstorming creative ways to help students without home online access continue their studies:

Create a “file upload” feature in Google Forms:Eric Lawson, director of technology at Maine’s York School Department, shared that you can create a Google Form directly from Google Classroom. One of the question options in Google Forms is to create a “file upload.” This allows for students to work on podcasts, videos, journals, infographics, etc. and simply submit them to their teacher through a form. On a day where students may not have internet access, they can still work on their project offline on their Chromebooks at home and then submit the file when they have access.

Offer mobile hotspot access:At Grain Valley Schools in Missouri, Kyle Pace, director of technology, plans to remind students that they can check out mobile hotspot devices from the school’s libraries--just as they’d check out books.

If you use Google Classroom and want to make sure students can view assignments offline, follow this YouTube tutorial from Stewart Lee, technology integration coordinator with Anderson School District 3 in South Carolina.

Google Docs unveils one writer’s creative process to the world

When Viviana Rivero set out to write her short story “Just do it!” she decided to experiment with her process. Instead of writing alone and revealing her work to readers later, she invited thousands of people to watch her write—and comment on her writing—in real-time with Google Docs.

More than 10,000 people watched the Argentinian writer’s story come to life in real time as she wrote it. We sat down with Rivero to learn more about how she incorporated technology into her creative process, and how it changed the final product.


Tell us about using Google Docs to publicly write your story.

Believe it or not, this was my first time using Google Docs. First, I created a new document and selected “comment-only” in the share permissions. Next, I hosted a few “live sessions” where I wrote a short story in the document and invited readers  to watch and comment. To my surprise, thousands of people contributed! The short story from this session became a part of a printed book called “Zafiros en la Piel” (“Sapphires on the skin”). The book’s back cover even has a QR code that takes the reader to the story on Google Docs, bringing these worlds together. 


What was it like to write in front of other people?

It was a challenging thing to do. Usually, when a writer creates a story, they don’t find out what the reader thinks until afterward, and even then, there’s no way of gauging how people react the moment they read the words. It was different and exciting because it allowed me to see their reactions as they had them.


Did  your story change as a result of readers’ comments?

Yes! There’s a character in the story who talks with his dog. People fell in love with the dog—they wrote so many comments about it. I decided to make the dog more important to the story and gave him and his owner more dialogue.


Did using Google Docs affect your creative process?

Reading and writing can be lonely activities. While my creative process wasn’t necessarily altered (I already had the general idea for the story), the way in which we experienced the story changed. Docs helped bring the writer and reader together. These two things that are usually done in isolation were shared. It made the process much more enriching.

It also meant I showed everything that happens behind the scenes. For example, I don’t use punctuation when I write at first, just to make it faster. I typically put accents, periods and commas in after the story is written. At first I felt vulnerable because I didn’t want people to see unpolished work, but in the end, I think the readers appreciated seeing how a writer works. 


Were there any interesting results from the experiment?

I was surprised by the amount of new readers who participated. I expected many people to be fans already, but there were many new readers who joined the live sessions by chance. Since writing the story, we’ve seen a 170 percent increase in sales of the paper book. It was also awarded a Bronze Lion at the Cannes Lions Film Festival. 


Do you suggest other authors try using Google Docs and inviting readers to watch their process?

Many of my writer friends ask what it was like to write in front of thousands of people, something not many of them would dare to do. I tell them: Stories are something that will never die, and the way we tell them will continue to evolve. Before paper existed, people shared stories with their voices. And even if paper ceases to exist, the storyteller will remain, because people love stories. 

Being able to interact with readers so closely motivated me; I hope to be able to do it again someday.

A new way to help students turn in their best work

Today’s students face a tricky challenge: In an age when they can explore every idea imaginable on the internet, how do they balance outside inspiration with authenticity in their own work? Students have to learn to navigate the line between other people’s ideas and their own, and how and when to properly cite sources.

We've heard from instructors that they copy and paste passages into Google Search to check if student work is authentic, which can be repetitive, inefficient and biased. They also often spend a lot of time giving feedback about missed citations and improper paraphrasing. By integrating the power of Search into our assignment and grading tools, we can make this quicker and easier. 

That’s why Google is introducing originality reports. This new feature—with several reports included free in every course—will be part of Classroom and Assignments, which was also announced today. We create originality reports by scanning student work for matched phrases across hundreds of billions of web pages and tens of millions of books. 

When assigning work in Classroom and Assignments, instructors will have the option to enable originality reports. Students will then be able to run up to three originality reports on documents they attach to the assignment before submitting their work. This heads-up gives students an opportunity to proactively improve their work, and also saves time for instructors. 

After submission, a fresh originality report will automatically be available to instructors when grading the assignment. These reports will flag text that has missed citations and has high similarity with text on the web or in books.

Analyze student work with originality reports in Google Assignments

But comparing work to search results isn’t the only way to ensure authentic work. Coming soon, schools can choose to have their own private repository of past student submissions, so instructors can receive originality reports that include student-to-student matches within the same school. 

Once the feature is generally available, instructors will be able to access originality reports at no charge for up to three assignments in each course they teach. Schools that would like unlimited access can upgrade their instructors to G Suite Enterprise for Education.  During the initial, limited testing period, all instructors can use originality reports as much as they would like to, at no charge. We’ll continue to add features at no additional cost to G Suite for Education.

To use originality reports with Classroom, sign up to apply to be part of the testing program by filling out our form. To try Assignments, which includes originality reports automatically, sign up through our website.

We’re looking forward to seeing how teachers and students alike use the tool to create work that’s both authentic and original. 

Source: Drive


Google Assignments, your new grading companion

Instructors lose valuable time doing cumbersome tasks: writing the same comment on multiple essays, returning piles of paper assignments, and battling copy machine jams. These frustrations are most often felt by instructors with the highest teaching workloads and the least time. For the last five years, we’ve been building tools—like Classroom and Quizzes in Google Forms—to address these challenges. Now you can take advantage of these tools if you use a traditional Learning Management System (LMS). 

Assignments brings together the capabilities of Google Docs, Drive, and Search into a new tool for collecting and grading student work. It helps you save time with streamlined assignment workflows, ensure student work is authentic with originality reports, and give constructive feedback with comment banks. You can use Assignments as a standalone tool and a companion to your LMS (no setup required!) or your school admin can integrate it with your LMS. Sign up today to try Assignments.

If you're one of the 40 million people using Classroom: you've got the best of Assignments already baked in, including our new originality reports. For everyone else, Assignments gives you access to these features as a compliment to your school’s LMS. 

Assignments is your tireless grading companion

Using an LMS can create more work than it saves: students turn in all kinds of files, you have to download and re-upload student files one-by-one, and what if students can keep editing after they already turned in their work? Assignments handles all this for you.

Assignments streamlines the creation and management of coursework, and tackles some of your biggest frustrations:

  • Stop typing the same feedback over and over by using a comment bank, and never worry about pressing the “save” button again

  • Check student work for originality and automatically lock work once it’s turned in

  • Assign files with the option to send each student a copy (no more copy machines!)

  • Grade assignments for an entire class with a student switcher and rubrics, and review any file type without leaving your grading interface

  • Comment and leave suggestions on student work with Google Docs

Grade in Google Assignments

Instructors and students can attach anything to assignments: Docs or Word files for papers, spreadsheets for data analysis, slides for presentations, sites for digital portfolios or final projects, Colab notebooks for programming exercises, and much more. 

Create assignments with Google Assignments

Help students turn in their best work with originality reports

With originality reports in Assignments, you can check student work for missed citations and possible plagiarism without interrupting your grading workflow. When students turn in a document, Assignments will check students’ text against hundreds of billions of web pages and tens of millions of books. 

If you enable originality reports on an assignment, students can also check their work for authenticity (a limited number of times) to correct issues, turn in their best work, and save instructors time grading. Since both you and your students can see originality reports, they’re designed to help you teach your students about authenticity and academic integrity. 

Analyze student work with originality reports

Getting started with Assignments

Starting today, you can sign up to get access to Assignments when it becomes available in a few weeks. Assignments will be available for free as part of G Suite for Education and can be used by instructors alongside or integrated with an LMS. 

Instructors can use Assignments even if your school has an LMS. There’s no setup required, all you need is to sign up and have a school-issued Google account. 

Admins can turn on access to Assignments within your LMS. Assignments is available as an LTI tool, which provides a more integrated experience and enables roster syncing and grade transmission to your LMS gradebook. Assignments is an improved and expanded version of Course Kit, so if you’re already in the Course Kit beta, you’ll automatically have access to Assignments. 

If you use Canvas, we’ve worked with their team to complement the Assignments LTI tool with a set of additional features that make Docs and Drive work seamlessly across all Canvas assignments. 

Source: Drive


ICYMI: G Suite in 2019, so far

It’s been a busy year for G Suite. Gmail celebrated its 15th birthday, and we launched a slew of updates at Google Cloud Next ‘19. For a recap on what’s happened in G Suite this year thus far, read on.

Communication is key.

Time flies. Earlier this year, we celebrated Gmail’s 15th birthday. To commemorate the occasion, we introduced new features in your favorite email to help you write emails faster (with the help of machine learning), and also made it possible to schedule when your emails go through to colleagues. Gmail also got more dynamic so that you can take action straight from within your inbox, like resolving Google Docs comments. Lastly, we gave Gmail’s mobile interface a good sprucing up—hello gorgeous!

Besides updating Gmail, we also brought businesses a secure (and intelligent) way to communicate no matter location or device: Google Voice for G Suite. Built in the cloud, Voice for G Suite is smart enough to transcribe voicemails for you and block pesky spam calls. Say goodbye to lengthy conference bridge numbers.
Take-home tip: While we’re on the subject, if you accidentally click “send” on an email that you didn’t mean to, you can recall it by clicking “undo” at the bottom of your inbox. It appears after you’ve sent an email and stays on your screen for up to 30 seconds before disappearing. You can choose the length that it appears in your settings.


G Suite Undo Feature

Putting the team in “teamwork.” 

People talk all the time about how collaboration is key, but nearly everyone defines collaboration differently. (More on that in this post.) Here’s our take: we think software can only be called collaborative if your tools are easy to use and if they help people stay productive. It’s called “teamwork,” after all.

In G Suite, we’re focused on making our apps intuitive and intelligent so that people can accomplish things quicker. That’s why we recently added things like intelligent grammar suggestions in Docs. But we think all work tools should integrate together easily, no matter if they’re Google apps or apps outside of G Suite. That’s why we introduced ways to comment on Microsoft files and beefed up integrations with Dropbox.


Take-home tip: Keyboard shortcuts are a life-saver. If you’re working in a Google Sheet, and want to add a comment quickly, type Ctrl + Alt + M.


Comment in Sheets

We’re always making updates like these to make G Suite more useful for you. Keep track of the latest on our website, and stay tuned for more recaps like this in the months to come.

ICYMI: G Suite in 2019, so far

It’s been a busy year for G Suite. Gmail celebrated its 15th birthday, and we launched a slew of updates at Google Cloud Next ‘19. For a recap on what’s happened in G Suite this year thus far, read on.

Communication is key.

Time flies. Earlier this year, we celebrated Gmail’s 15th birthday. To commemorate the occasion, we introduced new features in your favorite email to help you write emails faster (with the help of machine learning), and also made it possible to schedule when your emails go through to colleagues. Gmail also got more dynamic so that you can take action straight from within your inbox, like resolving Google Docs comments. Lastly, we gave Gmail’s mobile interface a good sprucing up—hello gorgeous!

Besides updating Gmail, we also brought businesses a secure (and intelligent) way to communicate no matter location or device: Google Voice for G Suite. Built in the cloud, Voice for G Suite is smart enough to transcribe voicemails for you and block pesky spam calls. Say goodbye to lengthy conference bridge numbers.
Take-home tip: While we’re on the subject, if you accidentally click “send” on an email that you didn’t mean to, you can recall it by clicking “undo” at the bottom of your inbox. It appears after you’ve sent an email and stays on your screen for up to 30 seconds before disappearing. You can choose the length that it appears in your settings.


G Suite Undo Feature

Putting the team in “teamwork.” 

People talk all the time about how collaboration is key, but nearly everyone defines collaboration differently. (More on that in this post.) Here’s our take: we think software can only be called collaborative if your tools are easy to use and if they help people stay productive. It’s called “teamwork,” after all.

In G Suite, we’re focused on making our apps intuitive and intelligent so that people can accomplish things quicker. That’s why we recently added things like intelligent grammar suggestions in Docs. But we think all work tools should integrate together easily, no matter if they’re Google apps or apps outside of G Suite. That’s why we introduced ways to comment on Microsoft files and beefed up integrations with Dropbox.


Take-home tip: Keyboard shortcuts are a life-saver. If you’re working in a Google Sheet, and want to add a comment quickly, type Ctrl + Alt + M.


Comment in Sheets

We’re always making updates like these to make G Suite more useful for you. Keep track of the latest on our website, and stay tuned for more recaps like this in the months to come.

Mail merge with the Google Docs API

Posted by Wesley Chun, Developer Advocate, Google Cloud

Students and working professionals use Google Docs every day to help enhance their productivity and collaboration. The ability to easily share a document and simultaneously edit it together are some of our users' favorite product features. However, many small businesses, corporations, and educational institutions often find themselves needing to automatically generate a wide variety of documents, ranging from form letters to customer invoices, legal paperwork, news feeds, data processing error logs, and internally-generated documents for the corporate CMS (content management system).

Mail merge is the process of taking a master template document along with a data source and "merging" them together. This process makes multiple copies of the master template file and customizes each copy with corresponding data of distinct records from the source. These copies can then be "mailed," whether by postal service or electronically. Using mail merge to produce these copies at volume without human labor has long been a killer app since word processors and databases were invented, and now, you can do it in the cloud with G Suite APIs!

While the Document Service in Google Apps Script has enabled the creation of Google Docs scripts and Docs Add-ons like GFormit (for Google Forms automation), use of Document Service requires developers to operate within the Apps Script ecosystem, possibly a non-starter for more custom development environments. Programmatic access to Google Docs via an HTTP-based REST API wasn't possible until the launch of the Google Docs API earlier this year. This release has now made building custom mail merge applications easier than ever!

Today's technical overview video walks developers through the concept and flow of mail merge operations using the Docs, Sheets, Drive, and Gmail APIs. Armed with this knowledge, developers can dig deeper and access a fully-working sample application (Python), or just skip it and go straight to its open source repo. We invite you to check out the Docs API documentation as well as the API overview page for more information including Quickstart samples in a variety of languages. We hope these resources enable you to develop your own custom mail merge solution in no time!

Collaborating to protect nearly anonymous animals

When you have a lot of people working in a Google Doc it can look like a zoo, with anonymous animals popping into your document to write (or howl, bark or moo) their feedback. Today, 13 new animals—like the african wild dog, grey reef shark and cheetah—are joining the pack. Though they may be excellent collaborators, they also need our help.

It’s Endangered Species Day, and we’re teaming up with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Netflix's “Our Planet” to raise awareness around animals that are at risk.

Google Cloud WWF Netflix.png

According to WWF, wildlife populations have dwindled by 60 percent in less than five decades. And with nearly 50 species threatened with extinction today, technology has a role to play in preventing endangerment.

With artificial intelligence (AI), advanced analytics and apps that speed up collaboration, Google is helping companies like WWF in their work to save our precious planets’ species. Here are some of the ways.

  • Curating wildlife data quickly. A big part of increasing conservation efforts is having access to reliable data about the animals that are threatened. To help, WWF and Google have joined a number of other partners to create the Wildlife Insights platform, a way for people to share wildlife camera trap images. Using AI, the species are automatically identified, so that conservationists can act quicker to help recover global wildlife populations.
  • Predicting wildlife trade trends. Using Google search queries and known web page content, Google can help organizations like WWF predict wildlife trade trends similar to how we can help see flu outbreaks coming. This way, we can help prevent a wildlife trafficking crisis quicker.
  • Collaborating globally with people who can help. Using G Suite, which includes productivity and collaboration apps like Docs and Slides, Google Cloud, WWF and Netflix partnered together to draft materials and share information quickly to help raise awareness for Endangered Species Day (not to mention, cut back on paper).

What you can do to help
Conservation can seem like a big, hairy problem that’s best left to the experts to solve. But there are small changes we can make right now in our everyday lives. When we all collaborate together to make these changes, they can make a big difference.

Check out this Slides presentation to find out more about how together, we can help our friends. You can also take direct action to help protect our planet on the “Our Planet” website.

Collaborating to protect nearly anonymous animals

When you have a lot of people working in a Google Doc it can look like a zoo, with anonymous animals popping into your document to write (or howl, bark or moo) their feedback. Today, 13 new animals—like the african wild dog, grey reef shark and cheetah—are joining the pack. Though they may be excellent collaborators, they also need our help.

It’s Endangered Species Day, and we’re teaming up with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Netflix's “Our Planet” to raise awareness around animals that are at risk.

Google Cloud WWF Netflix.png

According to WWF, wildlife populations have dwindled by 60 percent in less than five decades. And with nearly 50 species threatened with extinction today, technology has a role to play in preventing endangerment.

With artificial intelligence (AI), advanced analytics and apps that speed up collaboration, Google is helping companies like WWF in their work to save our precious planets’ species. Here are some of the ways.

  • Curating wildlife data quickly. A big part of increasing conservation efforts is having access to reliable data about the animals that are threatened. To help, WWF and Google have joined a number of other partners to create the Wildlife Insights platform, a way for people to share wildlife camera trap images. Using AI, the species are automatically identified, so that conservationists can act quicker to help recover global wildlife populations.
  • Predicting wildlife trade trends. Using Google search queries and known web page content, Google can help organizations like WWF predict wildlife trade trends similar to how we can help see flu outbreaks coming. This way, we can help prevent a wildlife trafficking crisis quicker.
  • Collaborating globally with people who can help. Using G Suite, which includes productivity and collaboration apps like Docs and Slides, Google Cloud, WWF and Netflix partnered together to draft materials and share information quickly to help raise awareness for Endangered Species Day (not to mention, cut back on paper).

What you can do to help
Conservation can seem like a big, hairy problem that’s best left to the experts to solve. But there are small changes we can make right now in our everyday lives. When we all collaborate together to make these changes, they can make a big difference.

Check out this Slides presentation to find out more about how together, we can help our friends. You can also take direct action to help protect our planet on the “Our Planet” website.