Google Docs is an immensely popular service, and there’s little doubt as to why. Beyond the simple advantage of offering document editing, spreadsheets, presentation, and even massive file storage for the cost of $0.00, Google Docs gives plenty of useful services that extend beyond the norm. For one, the fact that all these tools and all documents created with them are stored in the cloud means that users can continue to access data from any computer, and that Google takes care of all your file backup (so that spilled cup of coffee, rowdy child, or accidentally smashing your computer out of frustration won’t drop the data). More importantly, though, Google continues to be an innovator in online document creation and collaboration.
This month saw the release of one particularly special new feature in Google Docs (Spreadsheets): “pivot tables.” Pivot table reports, one of the more advanced and useful features available in Microsoft Excel, has been a popular feature for a long time, but it’s never been available online until now. Google’s pivot report feature allows users to do most of the things an Excel report can do, and then some: users can load data, organize it by column name, examine field data in summary, display the information on graphical charts, and reorganize the data with simple drag-and-drop mechanics.
Users who want to use this great feature can find it in the “Data” menu (it’s labeled “Pivot Table Report”). It started rolling out on the 17th of May and should be available no later than the end of May for all standard Docs and Google Apps users. At this time, Google is unable to import veteran Excel pivot reports, but that option may be in the works, and re-constructing pivots in Google Docs should be a cinch.