Google Apps: The Missing Manual
Publisher: O'Reilly Media / Pogue Press
Released: May 2008
Pages: 752

Among its many amazing applications, Google now has web-based alternatives to many of the applications in Microsoft Office. This comprehensive and easy-to-follow new book enables you to explore Google's new office applications in detail. Once you do, you'll be in good company -- more than 100,000 small businesses and some corporations are already looking to take advantage of these free Google offerings.

Google Apps: The Missing Manual teaches you how to use three relatively new applications from Google: "Docs and Spreadsheets", which provide many of the same core tools that you find in Word and Excel; and Google Calendar and Gmail, the applications that offer an alternative to Outlook. This book demonstrates how these applications together can ease your ability to collaborate with others, and allow you access to your documents, mail and appointments from any computer at any location.

Of course, as remarkable as these applications are, Google's office suite is definitely a work-in-progress. Navigating what you can and can't do and -- more importantly -- understanding how to do it isn't always easy. And good luck finding enough help online. Google Apps: The Missing Manual is the one book you need to get the most out of this increasingly useful part of the Google empire. This book:

  • Explains how to create, save and share each of Google's web-based office applications
  • Offers separate sections for Docs and Spreadsheets, Google Calendar, and Gmail
  • Demonstrates how to use these applications in conjunction with one another
  • Gives you crystal-clear and jargon-free explanations that will satisfy users of all technical levels
Many of you already use Gmail, but do you know its full potential? Do you know how you can increase its power by using Gmail with Doc and Spreadsheets and Google Calendar? You'll find out with Google Apps: The Missing Manual. You'll also come to understand why large corporations such as General Electric and Proctor & Gamble are taking a long, hard look at these applications.
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oreillyGoogle Apps: The Missing Manual
 
4.0

(based on 3 reviews)

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(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

 
4.0

Excellent intro to Google Apps

By Abbott

from Bend, OR

About Me Collaborative worker, Developer, Sys Admin

Verified Reviewer

Pros

  • Accurate
  • Concise
  • Easy to understand
  • Well-written

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Intermediate
    • Novice
    • Student

    Comments about oreilly Google Apps: The Missing Manual:

    Having heard a lot about Google Apps and Google Docs lately, I decided to learn more about them and how they might fit into the individual and collaborative endeavors of my life. Google Apps: The Missing Manual looked like a good place to start my research.

    This book will do an excellent job of quickly bringing you up to a reasonable knowledge level on Google Docs, Google Calendar, Gmail and other Google Apps. I'm a big fan of "The Missing Manual" series, and this volume is every bit as informative and readable as the other dozen or so missing manuals I've read.

    I was primarily interested in Google Docs, and this book had copious information that was more than adequate to get me up and running. There are a lot of subtleties hidden in Google Apps and how you can collaborate with them. Ms. Conner describes quite a few of these in her numerous "tips" inserts. In fact, I found the tips to be some of the most valuable parts of the book.

    As a long-time desktop apps user who's worked collaboratively for huge corporations, the idea of using cloud-based apps is new and interesting to me. This book did a great job of describing where Google Apps would be appropriate and how they fit with desktop apps. For example, Ms. Conner made it clear to me that while Google Apps might be adequate for many routine uses, it may often be desirable to "polish" Google Docs with more capable desktop applications. Her clear descriptions and neutral presentation of capabilities, strengths, and limitations were very helpful here.

    This book is extremely complete and should be useful to beginning and intermediate users. In addition, it includes several chapters that should help administrators set Google Apps up in a shared corporate environment.

    I was a little confused by the Google Sites chapter, but I'm not really interested in web design. Overall the book is extremely informative and readable, and the information is presented concisely. I highly recommend it.

    (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

     
    4.0

    A look into the nooks and crannies of Google Apps

    By Allen Stenger

    from Undisclosed

    Comments about oreilly Google Apps: The Missing Manual:

    This is a good overview of a number of useful free web-based applications put out by Google. It is especially helpful for alerting you to some non-obvious features of the apps. Google Apps are an exciting development not only because they are a free way to perform most common computer tasks, but because they permit a high degree of collaborative work. They are also pleasing to those of us who prize simplicity in computing (I like the phrase "hyperlink carnival" used on p. 411 to describe the typical dotcom home page, contrasted to Google's simplicity).

    A book about Google Apps is bound to be awkward, because they are not a single subject and are aimed at several different audiences. In general this book assumes the reader is already familiar with the type of application being discussed, and just needs to learn how to use the Google version. In particular the presentation focuses on individual features and doesn't say much about workflow. For example, although Google's spreadsheets are simple, and well-described here, I don't believe anyone who was unfamiliar with spreadsheets would be able to figure out how to use Google Doc Spreadsheets from this book.

    The section on Google Docs (word processing, spreadsheet, slideshows) goes fairly quickly through the available editing functions. It goes into more detail on the collaboration functions (since documents are stored on the web, you can collaborate with anyone else who can get on Google), version history, and reconciling online and offline edits. This section of the book works well.

    The section on Communications (email, talk, calendar) really does start at the beginning and assumes you've never done this before. This also works well, although it is a little overwhelming for Gmail because there are so many features.

    The web design section is confusing, not least because it combines two very dissimilar apps without telling you what they are for, or what the difference is. iGoogle, which has a very complex discussion, merely creates a custom start page. Page Creator, although it does create pages, is in fact a complete web publishing system, but you don't find this out until late in the chapter (Google lets you have a limited amount of web space and bandwidth for free on googlepages.com). These two chapters are basically OK, but they need more extensive introductions to orient the reader.

    The last section deals with Google Apps for organizations. Google offers an enterprise-level version of the same apps discussed earlier in the book. These are basically the same as the individual versions, but they provide a way to control the sharing and customization for the whole enterprise. This section of the book deals with the system administrator's job in managing all this. The book admits on p. 482 that the remainder of the book is "aimed at techie types". It assumes the reader is already administering the enterprise's computers, and describes all the admin steps for Google apps. These chapters look plausible to me, but I don't know enough about that kind of operation to evaluate them in depth.

    (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

     
    4.0

    Many Useful Apps

    By Irv Haas

    from Undisclosed

    Comments about oreilly Google Apps: The Missing Manual:

    At our June meeting, Bob Van Lier's topic was a demo of Google Apps. Little did he know that O'Reilly would be publishing a book in a few months on this very topic! Nancy Conner describes many of these apps (applications to the unfamiliar) in Google Apps: The Missing Manual ($39.99, O'Reilly, May, 2008, 711 pp.).

    For many of us, Google is our favorite browser. It's easy to navigate and search for topics. But for many others, Google offers many free apps to make our lives easier. Most of these are unfamiliar to the uninitiated. But Conner offers an inside look into many of these and how they can enrich our lives (and our pocketbooks!).

    One of the most popular programs, for example, is Gmail (for Google, of course!). This is a free mail program that is extremely user friendly. Want to quickly create word processing files, spreadsheets and slideshow presentations? No, you don't need to run out and buy Microsoft¬ Office for several hundred dollars. Just use Google apps and break free of Office.

    Typical Apps

    Here is just a sampling of Google apps that can work for you:

    Google Docs _ Word processing

    Google Docs Spreadsheets - Spreadsheets

    Google Docs Presentations _ Presentations

    Gmail _ Mail app

    Google Talk _ Chat program

    Google Calendar _ Calendar (Look out iCal!)

    iGoogle _ Organize your Google apps on your own web page

    What do all these programs have in common (besides being from Google) ? They all are web-based apps. In Conner's easy to understand description:

    "Simply put, they're programs you access over the Internet. You point your Web browser to the place where the application lives online, and then work with it in the same way you'd work with program that lives on your computer." How hard is that to understand?

    She goes on to explain that Google's online offerings can be fired up by your Web browser. Just point it to http://docs.google.com and sign up for a free account. It's really that easy. This book, of course, will help you through the rough spots.

    Web Based Apps

    Why be Web-based? Conner has several reasons:

    ' Portability _ You can use the app on any computer, not just your own

    Mobility _ Easy to use with mobile devices

    ' Collaboration Simple to share with other users

    ' Integration _ Communicate with other apps such as Office

    ' Updates and bug fixes _ No more updates since the version you're on is the latest

    Gadgets

    One of the most unique Google apps is Gadgets. According to Conner, gadgets are "a mini-program that displays information and interacts with you." Since they are small in size, they are easily configurable.

    Conner shows you how to add them to your Web page and tweak them to your liking.

    Although the price of the book is $39.99, ApplePickers members can get up to a 35% discount by using discount code DSUG when ordering directly from O'Reilly.

    Ordering one book will get you 30% off, buy 2 or more will get you 35% off and any order over $29.99 will qualify for free shipping.

    Conclusion

    Although this book is not for everyone, users who want to actively take advantage of Google's many apps will find this book immensely helpful. Where else would you learn how to create a wiki?

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