Editor’s note: Today’s guest blogger is Mark Nichoson, Product Manager at Adobe Community Help.

Back in 2008, Adobe began to use the power of Google Site Search to “plug the whole community brain trust right into the Creative Suite,” as we liked to say.

Now with the launch of Adobe® Creative Suite 5, we’ve taken that brain trust to a whole new level with the introduction of our new Community Help application. It’s an Adobe AIR®-based companion that’s automatically installed as part of any new Adobe CS5 product.

Launched directly from the Help menu of any CS5 product, the Community Help application enables customers to:
  • find fast answers with powerful new search options that let them focus results to just Adobe content, community content, developer resources, or even code samples
  • download core Adobe Help and language reference content for offline viewing (thanks to the Adobe AIR runtime)
  • see what the community thinks is the best, most valuable content via ratings and comments
  • share their expertise with others and find out what experts have to say about using their favorite Adobe product
Google Site Search: integration and innovation
Under the hood of the Community Help app lies our Google Site Search engine. This search engine searches across about 3000 sites – content such as product Help, language references, Tech Notes, Developer Connection articles, and Adobe TV videos as well as the best online content from the Adobe community. Content is chosen by experts at Adobe and in the design and developer communities, meaning customers find the answers they need faster.

Thanks to the robust Google Site Search APIs, the development team was not only able to easily integrate search results but also create unique innovations such as our new Code Search functionality. Formerly known as Blueprint, this new search option allows Adobe Flash® and Flex developers to search for relevant code samples so that they can write better code, faster.

A new definition of Help
By combining the best community content with the definitive reference that customers traditionally expect from Adobe, Community Help allows us to expand the definition what help means. Now users can tap into an entire ecosystem of content — one that can dynamically adjust to changing user needs and provide a much richer set of resources over the lifetime of the product.

Community Help can also be used as a standalone application. To give it a try, you can download it from

Mark Nichoson, Product Manager at Adobe Community Help


If you’d like to learn more about what Google Site Search can do for your website, join us for this upcoming webinar:

Thursday, May 13, 2010
11:00 a.m. PDT, 2:00 p.m. EDT, GMT 07:00

The data that powers API features like the map tiles, geocoding, and driving directions has been updated in Canada! The new base map in Canada will have expanded features such as more detailed water bodies, university campuses, postal code coverage, and a shorter feedback cycle for Maps updates – all leading to better, more accurate maps for employees and customers.

Along with this update we've launched the popular "Report a Problem" feature that's used in the United States to our Canadian users, too. It's recommended that you re-geocode all of your data to take advantage of the update.

Learn more about the Google Maps API Premier at

Posted by Dan Chu, Product Manager, Google Enterprise team

Editor's note: Updated the post to say postal codes instead of zip codes. Thanks to our sharp-eyed readers for catching that!

Editor's Note: Tom Hippensteel is the Vice President for LiquidConcrete, a medium-sized Seattle-based manufacturer of high-performance concrete coatings and flooring systems for industrial and transportation markets. LiquidConcrete relies on Google Apps for email, calendar, and document collaboration, and on Smartsheet, an integrated app from the Google Apps Marketplace, for online project management, general work management, and team collaboration.

Smartsheet's integration with Google Apps enables businesses to transform the work they routinely track in spreadsheets into a complete solution for managing business operations. Smartsheet currently offers three versions in the Google Apps Marketplace: online project management, sales pipeline management, and crowdsourcing.

Below, Tom explains a bit about LiquidConcrete and the steps they took to get the entire business – from the front office to the warehouse – to operate in the cloud.

To learn more about LiquidConcrete's success with Google Apps and Smartsheet, please join us for a webinar on Tuesday, May 11 at 11:00 a.m. PDT.

We win business because we have great products, and because we run a lean operation that differentiates on quick turnaround of custom jobs with high levels of customer service. Everything about our operation is focused on efficiency, so we’re always looking for software solutions that fit that model. We’ve had successes and setbacks in getting our operations into the cloud in a way that works for all of our employees. We needed tools that "just work the way that we work."

We use Quickbooks for accounting and have had great success with Google Apps for email and calendar, but had trouble finding a tool that combined the ease of use, power and flexibility we needed to manage the rest of our operations. We tried various CRM, ERP and manufacturing solutions but they made us work in a certain way and were difficult to use – people just went back to how they were doing it before.

Then we found Smartsheet, a cloud-based project management tool. It was already integrated with Google Apps, and as we began deploying it more broadly, made Google Docs much more useful. Smartsheet and Google Apps are the only tools that have been readily adopted across our whole company, all the way out to the guys on the warehouse floor.

Here’s how we use them:

Project & task management We started tracking various projects and shared task lists in Smartsheet. User adoption was not a problem and the ability to launch Smartsheet from Gmail (the first app we open every morning) might sound simple, but it was a big win. Most of us check into Smartsheet dozens of times per day and we all have it added to the first screen on our iPhones.

Order-to-ship process We then realized that Smartsheet and Gmail could help with our order entry and shipping process. It was easy to set up and quickly adopted by reps on the phones with customers as well as people in the factory and at the warehouse. Here's our new streamlined process:

1. New orders are entered in a Smartsheet with the packing slip attached to the order and special instructions added as discussion notes

2. The people at the warehouse are automatically notified by Smartsheet (via Gmail on their iPhone) that a new order needs to be shipped

3. They access Smartsheet from their email, download the packing slip and prep the order

4. Once the order is shipped, they fill out the "tracking number" field for that order in Smartsheet and change the dropdown status from "waiting" to "shipped"

5. The right people receive a Smartsheet notification that a new order has been shipped with the tracking number available

Inventory tracking We also track raw and finished goods inventory in Smartsheet, giving salespeople instant access to the latest information online or via their iPhone.

Sales pipeline We have recently started using Smartsheet to manage the sales pipeline. It's been great to have all of our client projects and potential leads tracked in one place with their relevant documents attached to their record. We have instant status updates, forecast amounts and recent call notes at our fingertips and use reminders to make sure follow up happens.

Specification document management Since we are able to easily attach Google Docs to our Smartsheets, we decided to go forward with converting hundreds of specification documents into Google Docs. Google Docs gives us collaborative writing and review to get the specifications right, and Smartsheet organizes them conveniently right inside the project workflow. Accessing files directly from our sales, inventory and order processing sheets has been a big productivity win.

Smartsheet and Google Apps are changing the way our company communicates. Our CEO loves it because he gets an update on order status or a key customer in real time. Our reps love it because they can quickly pull up an order while on the phone with a customer and give an instant answer without waiting for someone at the warehouse to call them back. This saves us a tremendous amount of time.

The two keys for us are ease of use and the flexibility, and we've yet to come across a type of work that can't be managed in Smartsheet and Google Apps. We also love that it's a fraction of the cost of many of the other solutions we've looked at and we don't have to hire expensive consultants to customize it.

Bottom line is that we serve our customers better than bigger competitors because we're nimble and agile, and we feel the same way about Smartsheet and Google Apps.

Tom Hippensteel, VP, LiquidConcrete

Join Tom and the Smartsheet team for a webinar to learn more about this customer success story. This online discussion will include a question and answer session.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010
11:00 a.m. PDT / 2:00 p.m. EDT / 6:00 p.m. GMT

You can watch it at work here:

To learn more about Smartsheet's experience selling their app in the Google Apps Marketplace, please read their post on the Google Apps Developer Blog. To learn even more about Smartsheet, check out their Google Apps Marketplace listing.

Posted by Chris Kelly, Google Apps Marketplace team

If you're a Google Apps user, you're already running part of your business in the cloud, and realizing the benefits around speed, efficiency and collaboration it brings. The Google Apps Marketplace enables those same cloud benefits for your entire business, beyond messaging and collaboration.

Since our launch last month, we’ve been pleased by the great success our customers have seen with Marketplace apps, and by the constant stream of innovation coming from our Marketplace vendors.

Next Wednesday, April 28, we're hosting a webinar about extending Google Apps with web-based applications from the Google Apps Marketplace. You’ll get a general overview of the marketplace, see a demo of how to find and install apps, and learn about applications – many of which are free – that you can start using right now for your business. Please join us!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010
11:00 a.m. PDT / 2:00 p.m. EDT / 7:00 p.m. GMT

Posted by Chris Kelly, the Google Apps Marketplace team

Editor's note: This is the first in a series of posts on new apps in the Google Apps Marketplace that have caught our eye here at Google. We’ll do this every couple weeks or so. Look for the label "marketplace highlights" and subscribe to the series.

Businesses that use Google Apps not only get access to Google's applications, they also get easy access to some of the best business apps on the web through the Google Apps Marketplace.  These Marketplace apps are easy to try and buy, and integrate with Google Apps "out of the box", making it even easier for businesses to run more of their systems in the cloud.

Today’s update includes apps for creating diagrams and charts, CRM and project management, accounting, and personal scheduling. Google Apps admins can easily deploy these apps to users in their domain via the Google Apps Marketplace. Many of the apps below are free or offer free trials. You can learn more about the Marketplace and watch a short video on how it works here.

Creately - Online Diagramming and Design

Creately is an online diagramming application built for project teams. Create wireframes, flowcharts, UML diagrams, Network Diagrams, mind maps and more diagram types with ease.
  • Create ANY diagram: flowcharts, UI Mockups to UML
  • Powerful project based collaboration
  • Full featured, intuitive interface
Insightly - CRM and Project Management

Insightly is a CRM and Project Management package designed specially for Google Apps. Track leads, proposals, opportunities, projects and manage files, all through an easy to use interface.
  • Track leads, proposals, opportunities and projects
  • Full history of customer interaction
  • Central shared contact list
Rhino Accounting - Accounting

Rhino Accounting is online accounting software for small businesses. It is totally integrated with Google Apps so you don't need to duplicate your contacts or have yet another login.
  • Always free
  • Full double-entry bookkeeping
  • Easily email invoices
Teambox - Project Collaboration

Collaborate seamlessly with your team Teambox is the better way of managing projects and getting things done. Its Twitter-like approach needs no training Take back control of your projects now
  • Manage tasks, files and conversations
  • Easy to use and fun interface
  • Inbox-driven collaboration - Personal Scheduling is a personal scheduling application, which lets businesspeople publish availability, accept appointment requests, and plan meetings - making scheduling meetings easy.
  • Easily schedule meetings with anyone, anytime
  • No more double bookings, or time zone mishaps
  • End the back and forth of finding a time to meet
There are lots of other apps for Google Apps in the Marketplace that can help your business and users become more productive. If you're an Apps user, let your admin know about these great tools for your organization. If you'd like to learn more about the Marketplace, please come to our webinar next week, 11:00am PDT on April 28.

Posted by Scott McMullan, Google Apps Partner Lead, Google Enterprise

Editor's note: This post is the last in a three-part series on the benefits of Google Apps’ cloud-computing architecture. - Ed.

The first post in this series focused on faster access to innovation and last week’s entry described how Google Apps can drive higher reliability and security. This final installment explains advantages achieved from the scale at which the Google Apps infrastructure operates.

Maximum Economies of Scale
An Internet-scale cloud infrastructure achieves economies of scale that can produce tremendous cost savings. Rather than buying off-the-shelf completed servers, Google buys raw computer parts in massive quantities, and assembles custom servers with few unnecessary components. Not only do we save costs on hardware, we also minimize overhead by consolidating on a very small number of server configurations that can be managed in bulk globally at an extremely efficient ratio of staff to machines. On a per-user basis, these economies of scale allow Google Apps to operate at higher levels of efficiency than can be achieved by customers themselves.

Further cost savings are also made possible by applications that run in the browser. Not only can customers forgo licensing expensive client software, but browser-based applications also require much less administrative overhead than traditional software or “software plus services”. IT departments don’t need to deploy patches or upgrades for web-based applications, and since improvements roll out gradually and continuously instead of in large disruptive batches every several years, companies can also save on change management costs.

Cloud computing – hosted, web-based applications built on shared infrastructure – can achieve breakthroughs in the pace of innovation, reliability, security and economies of scale. As you consider alternatives to address your organization’s messaging and collaboration needs, it pays to understand how different technologies are actually delivered. Over two million businesses considered their own options and have truly moved to the cloud with Google Apps.

If you’re interested in going a level deeper, we invite you to geek out with us on Thursday, when we’ll be holding a webcast to explore the advantages of Google’s cloud. Hope you can join us!

Geek out on the Cloud-Based Infrastructure of Google Apps
Thursday, April 22, 2010
2:00 PM ET / 11:00 AM PT / 6:00 PM GMT

Editor’s note: Every now and then we like to showcase innovative uses of Google Maps and Earth. Today we’re excited to welcome Don Rescigno, who is the Director of Marketing for NYSTROM Herff Jones Education, which has implemented the Google Earth and Maps API into educational software to make learning more interactive.

School Maps & Globes 2.0
NYSTROM Herff Jones Education Division & Roundarch use the Google Earth API to reinvent the classroom map and globe

Technology is changing the face of what today’s classrooms look like. In the United States alone, roughly one out of every five classrooms has an interactive whiteboard, like this:

These are steadily replacing the chalkboard and leave little to no room for traditional wall maps and charts.

As the leading producer of maps and globes for schools, NYSTROM Herff Jones Education Division saw an opportunity to deliver geographic information to educators – a market we’ve served more more than 100 years – through innovative technology. We partnered with Roundarch, a leader in digital design and technology, to help. Ultimately, we chose to use the Google Earth API to power our educational content and reinvent our products in ways never before possible. The result of our work is StrataLogica(TM).

Released late September 2009, StrataLogica is a revolutionary web-based product that delivers layers of age-appropriate, curriculum-based content for use in the classroom, school library, or at home. To meet grade-level curriculum standards, Nystrom mapped the world in many ways to illustrate various themes including physical features, political divisions, land cover, elevation, and U.S. and World history.

StrataLogica geo-references the content and presents it wrapped on the 3-D Earth allowing users to navigate and interact with our multi-layered world beyond the scope of traditional maps and globes.

Using the StrataLogica dual-map viewer, teachers and students can compare and contrast a variety of topics side by side. They can examine “then and now” by comparing, say, a World War II history map with a current political view (see image) of the same place.

Students can consider why people live where they do by creating side-by-side mash-ups of population, rainfall, and land use. They can also take advantage of Google Earth’s 3-D imagery by zooming down to satellite view to explore terrain or cities and communities around the world while keeping one globe view locked to provide context.

With the intuitive tool bar built on top of the API teachers and students can interact in numerous ways with content. They can add their own placemark pop-ups and include explanatory text, videos, or photos. They can use a ruler tool to measure distance. They can add their own text labels or drop in symbols to highlight land use, transportation, weather, and more. Each user can save this information to his or her account.

Nystrom and Roundarch have recently announced the addition of new StrataLogica features and functions that include collaboration, sharing, projects, and presentations. With these new capabilities students and teachers can work together to map curriculum content—exploration routes, famous battles, immigration patterns—in this online environment so learning to continue outside the confines of the classroom.

It’s our belief that with the release of StrataLogica, Nystrom is redefining the way schools will think about and provide this fundamental, relevant content. Today’s students are so technically savvy – they deserve resources that will feed their appetite for information while improving their educational lives. Though it was introduced only months ago, StrataLogica is already being adopted by schools and districts around the country. The overwhelming response has been that it inspires teachers and students in an entirely new way.

We invite you to see videos of StrataLogica in action and encourage educators to get a free trial at You can also follow Nystrom’s StrataLogica on Twitter at

Don Rescigno, Director of Marketing
NYSTROM Herff Jones Education Division

Representatives from both Nystrom and Roundarch will be participating at the annual Google I/O Conference this May in San Francisco, California.

Posted by Natasha Wyatt, Google Earth and Maps team

When our users add Google Site Search to their website, they expect the same relevance, intuitiveness, and response time that’s delivered with search. As a website owner, you want to leverage the power of Google search while still staying within the unique look and feel of your site’s design, and Google Site Search Themes allow you to modify the appearance of search results to more closely match the overall styling of your website.

Google Site Search users can easily set up their themes through the admin control panel, which also manages everything from refinement labels to On-Demand Indexing. By clicking on the "Look and Feel" tab, you can choose between three primary layouts and six styles for your Google Site Search. Each style has a unique color scheme, text format, and search box appearance to fit in with the rest of your site.

If you love a style, but need to tweak it, you can customize it further by changing fonts, colors, backgrounds, promotion settings, as well as interactive features such as tabbing and mouse-overs. The preview function instantly shows you the effects of your changes, so you can keep iterating until your search results look just right.

What’s more, Google Site Search allows for further customization through a number of different features and capabilities such as the XML results feed, JSON, or our brand new custom data rendering features – tools that web developers with programming experience can use for more advanced results. With Themes, however, you can make major layout and formatting changes to your search experience right through your control panel, without having HTML, CSS, or JavaScript editing.

Google Site Search is constantly adding new features. We recently added mobile support for Custom and Site Search as well as support for rich snippets and easier synonym management, among many other enhancements made in 2009. Needless to say, we have ongoing new features and enhancements planned for 2010.

See how easy it is to put the power of Google search to work for your website.

Posted by Clay Maffett, Google Site Search team

Editor's note: This post is the second in a three-part series on the benefits of Google Apps’ cloud-computing architecture. - Ed.

Last week’s post kicked off our series on the advantages of Google’s cloud, and described how our infrastructure gives customers faster access to innovation than on-premises technology, single-tenant hosted applications, and “software plus services”. Here, part two focuses on how Google Apps is designed from the ground up to provide higher reliability and better security.

Improved Reliability and Security
Through synchronous replication, data and user actions in Google Apps are mirrored in nearly real-time across multiple data centers. If one data center becomes unavailable for any reason, the system is designed to instantly fall back to a secondary data center with no user-visible interruption in service. For Google Apps customers, our recovery point objective (RPO) design target is zero, and our recovery time objective (RTO) design target is instant failover. Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, Google Groups, Google Docs and Google Sites have a 99.9% uptime guarantee, and our actual reliability has been significantly higher than this commitment. Attempting to replicate this level of reliability with on-premises or hosted technology is tremendously costly and complex. Even very large enterprises with state-of-the-art disaster recovery systems typically target a recovery time of one hour and accept the loss of one hour’s worth of data.

On the security front, Google’s large investments in physical and process-based security are passed on to customers. First, Google is able to hire many of the worlds leading security experts to protect our systems and conduct cutting-edge security research. Our data centers are hardened with many of the latest measures in security precautions, including biometric access controls and multi-tiered security perimeters. Furthermore, Google has implemented a multi-layered security process protocol designed to help keep customer data safe. Our processes have been independently verified in a successful third-party SAS 70 Type II audit to verify our confidentiality, integrity and availability of customer data. Finally, Google is able to efficiently manage security updates across our nearly homogeneous global cloud computing infrastructure, so customers aren’t exposed to known vulnerabilities until they install security patches themselves.

Browser-based applications also help keep sensitive data more secure. Unlike traditional software, when a user is finished using a web-based application, minimal data is left on the machine that could be compromised. Also, when employees can securely access their data from any browser, they’re less likely to store data locally on unsecured end-points like thumb drives. In a world where one out of ten laptops go missing in the first year1 and 66% of workers report having lost a thumb drive2, making data securely available from the browser and minimizing the amount of sensitive data stored on devices is an effective security strategy.

Next week I’ll conclude this series by sharing how Google’s economies of scale can help companies reduce costs and free up technology resources for higher value initiatives that can make businesses more competitive.

If you’re interested in going a level deeper, we invite you to geek out with us on Thursday, April 22nd, when we’ll be holding a webcast to explore the advantages of Google’s cloud. Hope you can join us!

Geek out on the Cloud-Based Infrastructure of Google Apps
Thursday, April 22, 2010
2:00 PM ET / 11:00 AM PT / 6:00 PM GMT

1. The Federal Bureau of Investigation & The Computer Security Institute’s annual Computer Crime and Security Survey, 2005.
2. “Thumb Drives? The New Portable and Convenient Way to Lose Data”, 2007.

Editor's note: The spam data cited in this post is drawn from the network of Google email security and archiving services, powered by Postini, which processes more than 3 billion email connections per day in the course of providing email security to more than 50,000 businesses and 18 million business users.

In 2009, the security community started seeing diminishing returns from the takedown of malicious ISPs. After the ISP 3FN was taken down, spam levels rebounded in less than a month, and after Real Host went down, spam volumes recovered after only two days. In response, the anti-spam community turned its attention toward taking botnets offline instead.

Toward the end of 2009, Mega-D, a top-10 botnet – responsible for infecting more than 250,000 computers worldwide – was severely crippled through a carefully orchestrated campaign designed to isolate the command-and-control servers spammers were using to support the botnet. In early 2010, security professionals, along with government agencies, successfully mounted a campaign against several more targets: major botnets such as Waledac, Mariposa, and Zeus were either shut down or had their operations significantly curtailed.

However, this recent spate of botnet takedowns has not had a dramatic impact on spam levels. Although spam and virus levels did fall below Q4’09 highs, reports from Google’s global analytics show that spam levels held relatively steady over the course of Q1’10.

This suggests that there’s no shortage of botnets out there for spammers to use. If one botnet goes offline, spammers simply buy, rent, or deploy another, making it difficult for the anti-spam community to make significant inroads in the fight against spam with individual botnet takedowns.

Spam by the numbers
Overall, spam volume fell 12% from Q4’09 to Q1’10, which follows a trend of quarterly decreases in overall spam levels that started after the surge in Q2’09. This may be attributed to some of the recent takedowns, but spam volume was still 6% higher this quarter than it was during the same period in 2009, and spam volume as a percentage of total email messages is holding steady.

Recently, our data centers showed a 30% increase in the size of individual spam messages (measured in bytes) that occurred toward the end of March, as shown below.

This spike points to a resurgence of image spam, similar to what we reported in Q2’09. This is likely due to the fact that reusing image templates makes it easier and faster for spammers to start new campaigns.

As always, spammers tend to make use of predictable topics – cheap pharmaceuticals, celebrity gossip, breaking news – to encourage user clicks. In January, spammers hastened to exploit the Haiti earthquake crisis, sending pleas for donations that appeared to have been sent by reputable charitable organizations, politicians, and celebrities.

The frequency and variety of post-earthquake spam illustrates an unpleasant reality: spammers will exploit any means – even tragedies – to accomplish their objectives.

Virus levels fall after Q4’09 surge
During 2009, spam with attached viruses increased tenfold, with levels rising from 0.3% of total spam in the first half of the year to 3.7% in the second. Postini filters blocked more than 100 million virus-bearing messages per day during the worst of the attack.

Since then, spam with attached viruses leveled off to around 1.1% in Q1’10, and dropped as low as 0.7% in March. It’s good news that virus levels are currently trending down – but Q1’10 levels are still 12-fold higher than they were in Q1’09.

In fact, this virus surge may be part of the reason that there hasn’t been a significant impact on spam volume after the recent takedown of major botnets. With a host of new machines now infected and part of a botnet, it is unlikely that there would be a dip in spam proliferation.

Benefits of security in the cloud
Although the botnets that distribute spam are mindless drones, the spammers that take advantage of these botnets are a highly active and adaptable group. This is evidenced by the varied techniques and tactics that they employ in an ongoing effort to evade spam filters and deliver messages to their targets.

2010 is likely to see more botnets taken offline, but the question remains – will that have a long-term impact on spam volumes overall? So far in 2010, the effect has been limited, and the security community may begin to turn to other tactics that yield a more substantial impact on global spam volumes.

As long as the threat is there, however, Google is committed to using the power of the cloud to protect your enterprise from spam and viruses. Outsourcing message security to Google enables you to leverage our technical expertise and massive infrastructure to keep spammers from your inbox.

For more information on how Google’s security and archiving services can help your business stay safe and compliant, please visit

Posted by Gopal Shah, Google Postini Services team

Over the last year, we’ve been hard at work rewriting the infrastructure underlying Google Docs to take advantage of the latest advances in modern browsers. Our updated codebase will help us deliver richer functionality more quickly, and over the next few days, we’ll be rolling out a preview of the new editors.

New document and spreadsheet features
You shouldn’t have to give up any routine features when you switch to web-based applications, and we’re addressing many longstanding requests across Google Docs with this release that were not feasible with older browser technology. Documents support better formatting options like a margin ruler, better numbering and bullets, and more flexible image placement. Spreadsheets now have a familiar formula editing bar, cell auto-complete, drag-and-drop columns and more.

Higher fidelity document import
It should be easy to move files saved on your computer to the cloud, so we made our document upload feature much stronger. Imported documents keep their original structure more accurately, so you can spend less time adjusting files you move to the cloud.

Speed and responsiveness
Browser-based applications shouldn’t force you to compromise on performance either, and our new architecture is much faster than before. Working with very large spreadsheets is even snappy now. Web apps really can feel just as fluid as traditional software.
Faster collaboration
Collaboration has always been Google Docs’ forte, and the new codebase is letting us leap forward here, too. The applications support up to 50 simultaneous editors, and documents let you see other people’s changes character-by-character as they type. Finally, we’ve added multi-user editing to drawings too, so now you can build flow charts, schematics, and other kinds of diagrams collaboratively.

The new Google Docs editors will take advantage of faster rendering engines in modern browsers as well as new web standards like HTML5. As a result, we need to temporarily remove offline support for Docs starting May 3rd, 2010. We know that this is an important feature for some of you, and we are working hard to bring a new and improved HTML5-based offline option back to Google Docs. Please note that this change only concerns Google Docs. We will continue to support offline access for Gmail and Google Calendar. To learn more, please see our Help Center.

Over the next few days, users will be able to start creating collaborative drawings from the Docs list. For Google Apps customers with the control panel option set to “enable new pre-release features,” users will have the option to enable the new document editor in the ‘Document settings’ page, and activate the new spreadsheet editor with the “New version” link at the top of any spreadsheet.

These improvements to Google Docs are designed to help businesses like yours move to the cloud faster and be more productive than ever before. We look forward to hearing what you think.

To learn more about these new features, check out our on-demand webinar.

Posted by Anil Sabharwal, Product Manager, Google Apps

Editor's note: To learn more, check out the Google Docs blog for deep dives on the new editors for Documents, Spreadsheets, and Drawings. Original links to webinar registration removed on 04/23/2010.

Update (05/05/2010): We’ve received a lot of great questions about the new Google Docs editors in our forums, blog comments, and webinars. Check out this post on the Google Docs blog for answers to the most frequent questions.

Editor's Note: This post is the first in a three-part series on the benefits of Google Apps’ cloud-computing architecture.

“Cloud computing” has become a trendy buzzword, and some traditional technology vendors are even using the term though their solutions are still rooted in legacy architectures. In this three-part series, I’ll share how Google’s multi-tenant, Internet-scale architecture and browser-based applications produce three key advantages: the fastest innovation, improved reliability and security, and maximum economies of scale. Today I’ll focus on how Google’s innovation exceeds what’s possible with on-premises technology, single-tenant hosted applications, and “software plus services”.

Faster access to innovation for higher productivity
The web is the epicenter of innovation, and Google’s multi-tenant infrastructure is designed so we can push improvements to our entire customer base on short iteration cycles. We can deliver new functionality on a weekly basis, or faster, because our systems are able to distribute updates so efficiently. In 2009 alone, we launched over 100 improvements, and customers didn’t need to manage any upgrades or patches. In contrast, businesses tend to update traditional server software every five to seven years due to long release cycles from vendors and the cost and complexity businesses face implementing upgrades, especially when more powerful servers are required, like 64-bit hardware.

Browser-based applications are another key ingredient in our recipe for rapid innovation. When we launch new features to our web applications, users automatically get these improvements just by refreshing their browsers. Our mobile browser applications also get new features without software updates. With traditional technology and “software plus services”, client software is an innovation bottleneck. Even after back-end systems can support new features, users don’t get new functionality in those environments until the software on their computers and mobile phones have been upgraded, which can be an expensive and labor-intensive project.

Feedback and anonymous usage statistics from hundreds of millions of users in the real world also help us bring stress-tested innovation to business customers at an unprecedented pace. From our consumer user base, we quickly learn which new features would be useful in the business context, refine those features, and make them available to Google Apps customers with minimal delay.

Continuous innovation powered by the cloud has another advantage over traditional technology cycles: employees adapt to a continuous stream of manageable improvements better than they tolerate large, disruptive batches of change. Gradual iterations in bite-sized chunks substantially reduce change-management challenges. Conversely, employees are subjected to a painful re-learning cycle each time companies upgrade traditional software.

Dramatically faster innovation helps employees be more productive, but that’s not all Google’s cloud has to offer. In part two of this series, next week I’ll focus on how Google Apps can offer better security and higher reliability than on-premises technology, single-tenant hosted applications and “software plus services”.

If you’re interested in going a level deeper, we invite you to geek out with us on Thursday, April 22nd, when we’ll be holding a webcast to explore the advantages of Google’s cloud. Hope you can join us!

Geek Out on the Cloud-Based Infrastructure of Google Apps
Thursday, April 22, 2010
2:00 PM ET / 11:00 AM PT / 6:00 PM GMT

As more and more people switch to smart phones as their primary entry point for browsing the web, businesses are looking for ways to help mobile visitors find the right information, fast.

That’s why the Google Site Search team has made it easy to enable users to search your website from devices like Android-powered phones, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and Palm Pre.

As a Google Site Search customer, you can repurpose your content to mobilize your web site. You can use the Site Search home page that we create for you as the preferred mobile entry point for your website. All the Google Site Search features - themes, result biasing, promotions, refinement labels, rich snippets, synonym enhancements, etc. – are available on the mobile version as well.

Additionally, if you customize Google Site Search on your website, those features will show up on your mobile home page. If you select or change the theme for your search engine, your mobile home page will automatically pick up those changes. Mobile results will also display thumbnails and actions if you have marked up your pages.

Learn more about these and other features at

Posted by Anna Bishop, Google Site Search team

Editor's Note: Today's guest blogger is Patti Butcher, Director of Statewide Resource Sharing for the State Library of Kansas in Topeka, Kansas. She received her MLS from Emporia State University in 1993. In addition to her current position she previously worked at the Central KS Library System, Northeast KS Library System, and has served as the State Librarian of South Carolina.

Last week, on April 1, the same day that Google re-named itself "Topeka," the State Library of Kansas (SLK) decided to "go Google" and switch our agency's email to Google Apps. But, unlike Google, we weren't fooling around!

The State Library of Kansas provides on-site and online information services for state government, the Legislature, all Kansas libraries and Kansas residents. We also work closely with seven regional library systems geographically distributed throughout our state. We have a large collection of print and audiobooks, plus state and federal documents. We manage a suite of online resources available 24/7 to all Kansans – from databases and digital books to online tutoring and services for the visually impaired.

Google Apps will provide the library’s staff with Gmail, calendar, video chat, real-time document and video sharing, backups, and additional services such as archiving powered by Postini. It will, for the first time, allow the agency’s multiple locations to have a staff intranet using Google Sites and join together teams that were previously separated by several firewalls.

The State Library relies heavily on technology so this chance to modernize our communications and collaboration systems is a welcome one. We switched to Google Apps for many reasons:
  • Substantial cost savings
  • Hosting by a trusted third party
  • Archiving and backups happening continuously in the cloud
  • 99.9% uptime, guaranteed
  • Strong recommendations from staff at the Northeast Kansas Library System, which made the switch last year
Now SLK’s IT staff will be able to focus on internal staff training needs and upgrading all of our technology systems – rather than on server maintenance. As we deploy Google Apps in the coming weeks, we will first be training our management team who will then work 1-on-1 with all staff to ensure that questions are answered and staff are comfortable with the new products and services. A number of State Library staff already have Gmail accounts and are familiar with its functionality.

Staff members are also interested in Google Apps capabilities beyond Gmail – like Google Groups and Google Docs. Our staff is eager to take advantage of the capabilities of Google Apps!

Staff from SLK will be at the Kansas Library Association conference in Wichita beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, April 7, and encourage anyone interested in Google Apps to seek us out.

Posted by Serena Satyasai, The Google Apps Team

Do you have an informative and fun Google Apps story to share? Please submit it here.

Editor’s Note: Today's guest author is A.J. Clark, President of Thermopylae Sciences and Technology, which helps developers build new applications with the Google Earth browser plug-in on Google Earth Enterprise through the iSpatial framework. A.J. works on the visualization, analysis, and dissemination of disaster/post-conflict data with a focus on emerging technologies that support participatory, collaborative approaches to spatial content creation and infrastructure development.

In the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, an urgent need for geospatial data sharing arose. As aid organizations and governments rushed to help, the collection and sharing of large amounts of geographic information among many sources and users presented a daunting challenge.

In response, the United States Southern Command (
USSOUTHCOM) made information and tools available through an interactive mapping website which they call a User Defined Operational Picture (UDOP), built on the Google Earth Enterprise platform to make visualizing the map and overlaid data easy and clear. Public sites are now available both for the Haiti earthquake and the Chile earthquake, where thousands of users can view, create, and edit spatial data (please note that you will be prompted to download the Google Earth plugin to view this data through these links.)

The system was rapidly deployed using an enterprise geospatial framework called iSpatial, which provides an open platform for the integration of dynamic data and the development of interactive applications. The data is displayed using the
Google Earth browser plug-in and API, which enables the visualization of geographic data layers in the rich, 3D Google Earth environment, on any web page.

The breadth of data sources and content producers contributing to and making use of the UDOP reflected the global community supporting the relief effort. The combination of participatory geospatial content, the collaborative nature of the UDOP and the ability to integrate mobile applications as direct content producers is available for ongoing relief efforts. This is an evolving capability within SOUTHCOM as we break new ground in providing collaborative tools for humanitarian aid and disaster relief efforts.

Note: to see imagery and maps in Google Earth, you can also download the Google Crisis Response KML files for Haiti and Chile.

Posted by Jeff Martin, Google Crisis Response team

Editor's Note: Today’s guest blogger is Jim McNelis, co-founder of Dito, a Google Apps Authorized Reseller and vendor in the Google Apps Marketplace.

Did you know that a little over 100 years ago, before the electrical grid existed, businesses had their own power plants to generate electricity?

As Nicolas Carr points out in his book, The Big Switch, factories used to produce their own electricity and manage those huge generators themselves, rather than outsource to a power company. So not only did companies need to be an expert at manufacturing thing-a-ma-jigs, they also needed to understand and manage their own power plant.

Well, my friends, the cloud is the electrical grid and your in-house server is your power plant.

The cloud has become a viable alternative to expensive, on-site hardware that needs constant tender love and care to stay current. Stop staffing IT to keep your systems from breaking. Instead, enable your IT staff to work on new and innovative initiatives that will drive your business forward by freeing them from the chains of the on-site server.

I've been excited about Google Apps since the day I discovered the service. I was an early Gmail beta tester, and, like many, have been faithful to the awesome service since 2004. When I saw there was such thing as Gmail for your business, I thought to myself, "This is innovative. This is going to change things." Three years later and Google Apps is changing things. It's a lot of fun to participate in a paradigm shift as a reseller, rather than standing by and watching it happen.

My brother Dan and I started Dito in 2007 in order to help small and medium businesses transition to the cloud. Even back then, before the Google Apps Authorized Reseller Program existed, we were providing services around Google Apps. When we were invited to take part in the reseller pilot program, accepting the offer was a logical progression for our business.

Joining the Google Apps Authorized Reseller Program has been a great experience for Dito all around. We've received extensive training, guidance and support from a variety of highly skilled and knowledgeable Google folks. Today, with a growing team of subject matter and Six Sigma experts, Google Apps trainers, and developers, we're able to perform to the high standard of service that our customers have come to expect. And the team is as passionate about Google Apps as I am. As users ourselves, we "dogfood" all new Google Apps features, growing our knowledge of the product and improving our own business processes.

Almost everyday, Dito helps a new customer move from a legacy system into Google Apps. Why are most of them moving? Businesses are moving to Google Apps Premier Edition for many different reasons, but there are a few that resonate across the board: cost, usability, and innovation. Put simply, businesses want to cut current costs while providing employees with a service that is easy to use and is constantly improving. Google Apps fits that bill.

When people ask where we see Dito in the future, I like to use the analogy that we are strapped to a rocket ship (Google Apps) that is taking off into the stratosphere, and we are screaming "yeeehaa" the whole way. We are just really excited about what we do. Dito is committed to providing the best services and solutions for businesses and organizations using Google Apps for years to come. We will continue to evolve with Google Apps and develop custom solutions, like Dito Directory that is available in the new Google Apps Marketplace, that fit the needs of the Google Apps user base.

Find reseller case studies and learn more about the Google Apps Authorized Reseller Program.

Posted by Jeff Ragusa, Google Apps Channel team

Editor's note: Today's guest blogger is Jeremy Lawrence, CIO of The Mind Research Network (MRN), an organization dedicated to the discovery and advancement of clinical solutions for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mental illness and other brain disorders. By switching from hosted Microsoft® Exchange to Google Apps, Lawrence spared his IT team from the grind of maintenance, upgrades and patches – all while providing users with a more advanced solution.

Beyond mail, Jeremy deployed Google's online documents, video, archiving, and encryption apps to help his 200+ research scientists and staff improve collaboration, boost productivity and enhance security.

Jeremy will be speaking this Thursday, April 8, on a live webcast. Register here.

Several years ago the situation at MRN could not have been more complex. The organization had grown with very little standardization and centralization. For email, we had a blend of email clients – Microsoft Outlook®, Outlook Express®, Apple® Mail, Pine, Elm, Semaphore, Morse – need I go on? There was such a proliferation of email accounts with varying reliability that people kept saying "Send it to my home account, because I never check this one." We also had growing needs in calendaring and document sharing.

We determined that we needed a single mail domain, mailing lists, a company directory, a shared calendar, as well as shared documents and project websites – something our employees weren't really aware of at the time. We thought about running Microsoft Exchange in-house, switching to another on-site platform, or a hosted model. Over a fair period of time, we calculated the costs of several solutions and analyzed all the reliability and collaboration factors.

Google won hands-down in a feature/cost comparison. We opted for a Big Bang conversion and got over the conversion hump in about a week's time. Import of email was flawless across 104 mailboxes – and we've now grown to nearly 300. We also did up-front preparation with weekly FAQ emails and bulk account creation in advance. We set up a hotline and printed instructions for users. We also conducted help sessions in the lobby. Post-migration, we provided "tip of the day" messages for 14 days.

Beyond mail, we deployed Google's online documents and video, as well as additional archiving and encryption features by Google Postini Services to help our 200+ research scientists and staff improve collaboration, boost productivity, and enhance security. Most of all, we learned that Google Apps provides capabilities far beyond our expectations and provides a platform for us to easily add on additional web apps. It's this additional extensibility and flexibility beyond just email that's a big value add for an organization of our size – and we're just scratching the surface.

We learned many tips and tricks for making users happy and we can share five (and more!) simple ways to get more out of Google Apps. Please join me for a live webcast to learn more.

Thursday, April 8, 2010
11:00 a.m. PDT / 2:00 p.m. EDT / 6:00 p.m. GMT
Posted by Serena Satyasai, Google Apps team

Find customer stories and research product information on our resource sites for current users of Microsoft® Exchange and Lotus Notes®/Domino®.