Comments and Discussions for Drive Apps

Thursday, November 15, 2012 | 10:00 AM

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"No file is an island." John Donne said something a bit like this in 1620 A. D., hundreds of years before the internet was ever invented, and it just gets more and more true as time goes on. In our online world of information, entertainment, and socializing, everyone is connected -- and everyone wants to collaborate.

Would you like to open a collaborative space in your Drive app by injecting comments and discussion threads in your users' files? This is now easily done with the Drive API. Using the new comments and replies resources together with a simple anchoring scheme to nail down the location of comments in your document, you can provide discussion threads much like the ones found in Google Docs.

Our new commenting model has two layers:

  • A comment starts a discussion thread. It is anchored to some location in the file -- for instance, a line or lines in a text document, or a rectangular area in an image file.
  • A reply is (as you might guess) a reply to a comment. Replies are tied to the status of the parent comment, so that deleting a comment also means deleting all of its replies.

In a typical scenario, an app gets the head revision of a file, lists the existing discussions, and inserts or deletes comments and replies as needed. It’s recommended that apps should also perform user permission checks and make sure commenters are authorized. These best practices, along with a complete reference for anchoring comments in files, are detailed in Managing Comment and Discussions in the Drive SDK.

For a great example of commenting best practices, you won’t need to look any further than the Google docs in your Drive. The features you see in our own implementation -- highlighted anchoring, UI options to reply, resolve, edit and delete -- are all available for you to add to your own app.

We look forward to seeing how you integrate comments and discussions in to your Drive app! Do a better job than Google docs, and we promise to be more pleased than surprised. If you have questions or feedback about comments and discussions, don’t hesitate to let us know on our Stack Overflow tag, google-drive-sdk.

Eric Gilmore

Eric is a technical writer working with the Developer Relations group. Previously dedicated to Google Apps APIs, he is now busy writing about all aspects of the Google Drive SDK.

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