(Caution: This is a venting-rage post… there is some technical merit to this, but it’s mostly me going insane using Google Docs sharing facility)
For the last 3 days I’ve been trying to un-share a large set (About 100) Google Docs that are shared with me that I no longer need access to.
For 3 days…
I’ve come to the conclusion that Google writes good software in theory, but in reality has produced a wonderfully buggy piece of sh…oftware and has been put on this earth to drive me absolutely insane.
Google doesn’t seem to believe in “error messages” in their software, so what you get are messages like “Folder XYZ has been hidden” while you are sitting there staring at it. Here are the types of problems I’ve been running into:
- One At a Time: You cannot manage access to multiple docs at once – just one at a time.
- Cannot Unshare Yourself: You cannot easily say “I no longer want access to these docs” when selecting a group of docs that are shared with you.
- ‘Remove’ Does not Work: Hypothetically you can, by selecting multiple files and pressing “Delete”, Google Docs will ask you “These 17 items cannot be erased because you do not own them, but they can be removed. Do you want to do that?” Go ahead and say “Yes” and see what happens — the docs disappear, and 5 secs later after the next refresh cycle, they re-appear in your account.
- ‘Shared’ is Defined Multiple Ways: Sharing all the contents of a folder causes the FOLDER to be shared. This sounds minor, but it’s resulted in a frustrating cycle of bullshit for me. I made another person at the company the owner of all these docs — MANUALLY, 1 doc at a time — when I was done, suddenly the folder *I* had created to organize these docs into was shared with him and I no longer could delete it. Now suddenly this folder that *I* created is linked between our accounts even though I never wanted it to be.
- Sharing a Folder Ads you to Doc-Access List: I manually walked through all 100 docs removing myself from the share list, setting my permissions to “none”, after an hour and a half I was finally rid of all those docs. When my co-worker made me the owner of the containing folders again so I could remove them so I didn’t have empty, un-removable folders sitting in my account — I was sudden re-added to all the mother-loving document access-lists again… the ones I had JUST removed myself from one-at-a-time.
To summarize this another way: There appears to be no way to cleanly unshare documents from Google Docs.
As of right now, every single document that I unshared with myself yesterday was re-shared with me today because Google Docs had placed my own personal folders into a locked-state shared between my account and my co-workers account that required them to live… I was unable to erase them even when they were no longer shared.
Keep in mind, I never shared my folders with him, this was something Google Docs decided to do.
I’m seething with frustration and rage at the moment trying to figure out how to get these goddamn docs out of my account without needing to do Google’s job for them and write a utility that does it using the GDocs API.
This would be solved via the Google Docs interface with any of the following:
- Don’t assume that sharing folder contents should share the folder itself and adjust folder-ownership accordingly.
- Allow the “See who has access” dialog to be smart enough to display a differential of all selected docs (not just 1 at a time) and allow you do a check/uncheck all. Your “Move to Folder” dialog ALREADY does this with the partial-state of docs displayed with a slash.
- Provide a “I no longer want access” functionality to the user that material is shared WITH so they can remove themselves from shared material they don’t want.
- Make the “Remove” operation ACTUALLY work and not show a successful tooltip just to have all the god-blessed items just show up on the next refresh.