REVIEW: "Google Apps: The Missing Manual", Nancy Conner
- BKGOAPMM.RVW 20091126
"Google Apps: The Missing Manual", Nancy Conner, 2008,
%A Nancy Conner nancy_conner@... nancylconner@...
%C 103 Morris Street, Suite A, Sebastopol, CA 95472
%G 978-0-596-51579-9 0-596-51579-0
%I O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
%O U$39.99/C$39.99 800-998-9938 707-829-0515 nuts@...
%O Audience n+ Tech 2 Writing 1 (see revfaq.htm for explanation)
%P 711 p.
%T "Google Apps: The Missing Manual"
The introduction is very promotional of Google Apps. There is some
brief description, but most of the text is gushing in tone, to the
extent that those with some experience in online applications may be a
bit uncomfortable with the apparent carelessness of the work. For
example, Conner states that you don't need to worry about saving your
work, since it is updated automatically. And you don't need to worry
about security, since Google is really concerned about security, and
uses the cloud. Some of these factors are, in fact, eventually
addressed (later in the book), but it might have been more reassuring
to those who do understand the technology to have some simple forward
references demonstrating that the author was not simply basing her
assurances on Google press releases.
Part one deals with Docs, and covers four applications under that
title. Chapter one covers obtaining an account, with a number of
screenshots, and some mention of Calendar and Toolbar. Docs, the word
processor, itself, has basic functions described in chapter two. The
material on sharing and collaboration (one of the major reasons for
using Google Apps) sometimes lacks detail (as in the description of
publishing on the Web), but does have some technicalities and
suggestions in other aspects. Conner suggests having the team agree
that each one will use a specific text colour for entries, which can
even clarify issues of multiple simultaneous updates [the content
isn't clear about how Google handles that], but might not work well
with deletions and modifications.) The Docs spreadsheets application,
as explained in chapter three, uses colour for multiple collaborators,
but this means that some of the (black and white) screenshots are
unclear. Interestingly, collaboration on presentations is not
discussed in chapter four: does this mean that the function is not
available, or that the author has not tried it?
Part two reviews communication applications. Chapter five outlines
the Gmail email system, with lots of screenshots. There are some
useful tips, but these often get lost in the verbiage unless you are
reading the text carefully. It's odd to think that an instant
messaging tool is complex enough to require all of chapter six, but
the whole thing is spent on Google Talk. The Calendar program is
covered in chapter seven, but, oddly, sharing of calendar information
is not described, except for a mention that your system manager needs
to be involved.
Part three is involved with creating Web pages. Chapter eight tells
you various things that can be added to "your" personal (private)
Google page with iGoogle. Creating your own Web pages (which you can
then publish to the world) with Page Creator is described in chapter
Using Google Apps as a kind of groupware is examined in part four.
Domain names, colour schemes, and the like are noted in chapter ten.
There is some technical detail, but mostly not. Miscellaneous
management controls are listed in chapter eleven. Chapter twelve
deals with Google Sites, which appears to be a combination of iGoogle
and Page Creator. Commercial services and the Google API (Application
Programming Interface) are mentioned in chapter thirteen.
Conner has created an introduction for novices that still manages to
provide pointers to intermediate or possibly experienced users. This
is a considerable accomplishment, and is certainly superior to
Lenssen's "Google Apps Hacks" (cf. BKGOAPHA.RVW). The balance of
material, however, could use some work. The vast bulk of the text is
dedicated to extremely basic functions, with the occasional useful
gems buried in minor mentions, almost as asides. If you are
interested in using Google Apps this provides a good starting point,
but will be demanding to work through.
copyright Robert M. Slade, 2009 BKGOAPMM.RVW 20091126
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