I ran across this new feature of Google Docs on DownloadSquad.
I’m a big fan of Google Docs. The collaborative features are top-notch, and unless I’m doing some fancy document footwork, its features are more than adequate for my needs (OpenOffice easily covering the rest). A new option on the Share tab is “to fill out a form.” It’s a great way to make surveys and generally collect data from people.
To see it in action, open up an empty Google Docs Spreadsheet, and save the empty form with whatever name you fancy. Then go to Share and click on “to fill out a form”, and click on the “Start Editing Your Form” button.
Now you have a complete form editor, where you can customize the form title and description and start adding questions. The answers can be of type text, paragraph text, multiple choice, checkboxes, or list.
Once you’re done, you can send the form to particular email addresses, or you can simply put the link provided on your web site for a general audience. In email form, people can fill out the form directly in their email inbox, which gets high marks for ease of use.
As people fill out the form and hit submit, the results are added to your spreadheet, with each result as a new row with a date/time stamp.
This is a great, easy way to do simple data collection for things like surveys and feedback forms, and the format would make it relatively easy to pull the results directly into a database (you can export a Google Docs Spreadsheet as ODF, XLS, CVS, TXT, and a number of other formats).
Google Docs is ridiculously good already, and they are adding new features like this so quickly I can hardly keep up with them. If you haven’t given Google Docs a try, it’s definitely worth a look.