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Workplace Software and Skills

3.9 Versions and Version History

Workplace Software and Skills3.9 Versions and Version History

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Access and use versioning features in Google Docs
  • Access and use versioning features in Microsoft Word

This section delves into a feature of Microsoft Word and Google Docs called versioning. Versioning refers to the technology where programs store multiple iterations of files until they are approved and saved. Essentially, several edited versions of the file are maintained on an online server, as well as the original document. Versioning technology can give you some peace of mind that your original document is saved somewhere, and that any changes will need to be accepted (approved) before the final document is saved.

There are many user-friendly options in Docs’s versioning, as you can clearly see all of the changes created within each version, as well as the time stamps for when each version was made. With this versioning technology, your team can edit a document simultaneously, and everyone will see the changes happening and what changes were made before you started working with the document. You will also see when other collaborators add or edit the text. This sharing of the views of the document adds accountability to the work on the final version of the document. It can be used to enhance communication about the rationale for suggestions when comments are used. In Word, there are fewer options for accessing and using version history features, but they do exist if you keep your documents stored on Microsoft’s cloud service, OneDrive, or on a SharePoint server.

When you are creating the market trends report, you will be sending the draft to key personnel in various departments to contribute to the report. Using these collaboration features will help as the document moves through each stage toward a final, accurate report.

Versioning in Docs

With versioning, you no longer have to worry about losing your files if your laptop battery dies. You do not have to be concerned if your program suddenly shuts down before you had a chance to save that last paragraph you typed. Docs has a feature that, as long as you are connected to the internet, autosaves every change you make to the file. There is no Save or Save As command because Docs is constantly saving in Google Drive, which creates version histories. This version history can be accessed by going to the File menu, then hovering over Version history, then selecting See version history. A sidebar will spring up to the right, as shown in Figure 3.64, listing many versions of the file, each with a time stamp and the name of the person or people using it at the time it was saved. With this Docs feature, it is not necessary to save multiple drafts of the same document. An alternative way to access the version history is by clicking on the title bar that says, Last edit was . . ..

Version History is selected, then See version history. Version history pane lists all versions. Next to the Help button a link for Last edit was 57 minutes ago Opens version history.
Figure 3.64 You can see the last edit of the document from version history. You can also access version history by clicking above the action bar. Version history is a Docs’s feature that lets you see all your little changes in a document writing process. (Google Docs is a trademark of Google LLC.)

To quickly see new changes in a file, Docs has a See New Changes alert. It appears where the date normally appears, next to the Help menu. If you select that, you’ll be able to see the recent changes from other editors—specifically, you will see all the changes that you haven’t seen since the last time you opened the file. This functionality is useful for quickly and easily seeing changes from collaborators without having to access the version history.

Real-World Application

Is Transparency Always the Right Choice?

Suggesting mode in Docs and Track Changes in Word serve the same purpose: Both help teams collaborate and share documents. These functions also help teams maintain accountability on the document’s grammar, usage, style, guidelines, and subject matter inaccuracies or faults. Google automatically logs the chain of events of the addition or editing of text by time and collaborator, tracking who made each change and when they did it. Between the Suggesting mode tool and Docs’s version history, the person in charge of the document or team can monitor the progression of the document and increase the efficiency and speed of its completion.

When sharing documents between a client and a vendor, there could be concerns about access to all the information in the document or the version history. Similarly, a supervisor might not want an employee to see the comments and edits in a document summarizing their job performance and proposed salary increase until they are ready to present it to the employee. That information might be important for the human resources department to keep but does not need to be shared with the employee. So, although Suggesting mode and Track Changes can assist with transparency and accountability, it can also be problematic if information is shared to the wrong audience or before the document is ready to be shared with others.

Now think about different circumstances in your life in which tracking changes and version history could be helpful, harmful, or both. How would you store your different versions?

Browsing Versions

In Docs, all these versions of the same file are organized by date, with the newest on top (Figure 3.65). The top version in the history is the most current and is open by default. You can check the date of the current version on the title bar, right beside the name of the file. You can check the name of the collaborator who made the edits by their name on the bottom of the time stamp, but also by the color of the circle next to the name, as each collaborator will have a different color circle. If multiple people worked on the file, their usernames will be listed below the time stamp, along with their color circle on the side.

The changes on the versions themselves are shown in highlighted font, similar to the Track Changes feature in Word. But unlike Track Changes, each editor’s changes will not be identified with a different color. Just the changes overall will be highlighted. If you want to find out who made the changes, hover the mouse above the text you want to query, and the name of the collaborator will appear. If you don’t want to look at this highlight, as it may be distracting, go to the bottom of the sidebar and uncheck Show changes.

A sentence is highlighted. At right, a Version History pane is open. All versions is selected and all edits made are listed with date, time, and person who made the edits.
Figure 3.65 You can check the date of the current version and the collaborator who made the edits. The changes are highlighted and show who made them. (Google Docs is a trademark of Google LLC.)
As you hover over the highlighted text, the writer’s name is displayed. A box is checked for Show changes.
Figure 3.66 If you want to find out who made the changes, make sure Show changes option is checked so you can hover the mouse above the text you want to query. (Google Docs is a trademark of Google LLC.)

Naming Versions

In Docs, the versions do not have a name; they simply just show a time stamp. If you like a certain version and want to keep it for future reference, or if you want to save it because it shows the progress of the file, select that particular version and give it a specific name so that it’s easy to find. Select the three dots next to the time stamp and a context menu will appear, from which you can choose to Name this version, as shown in Figure 3.67. As you finish typing the name, the time stamp will still appear, yet above it will be the name of that version. This will keep track of the important changes in a collaboration.

(a) Versions of a document are displayed. One is highlighted and an option for Name this version is selected. (b) The selected version has been renamed to: Marketing Four Ps.
Figure 3.67 (a) Naming the version can be useful, as there are many steps and processes in completing a business report. (b) Here, the business report happens to be on marketing what are known as “the four Ps:” product, price, place, and promotion. You may learn about these in the workplace. (Google Docs is a trademark of Google LLC.)

To name the current version, go to the File menu, then Version history, then Name current version. Next, type the name of this version in the dialog box and click Save.

After you finish your document, you might have named some of the versions, and you might just want to see only the named versions on the Version History sidebar. You can toggle the unidentified versions on and off, on the top of the sidebar with the option Only show named versions, as you can see in Figure 3.68.

Version history displays and Only show named versions is selected. A Version 2 May 6, 10:38pm Rick Arguello and Marketing Four Ps May 6, 7:37pm Rick Arguello is displayed.
Figure 3.68 The named versions might be the most important or relevant ones. (Google Docs is a trademark of Google LLC.)

Making a Copy of a Version

To make a copy of a version, you will also use the context menu for the specific version. The menu has the option to make a copy, in which you can make a new separate file from this document. (It is like Save As in Word, in which you can save a version with a different file name.) If you use the Name this version command, you will not create a separate file; it will still be the same document. However, it may be better in some situations to have separate files with descriptive names to them, as you would with different saved Word versions of a document. Many companies have file naming conventions to help them keep track of versions, such as “project#_document_name, ver#”, followed by the initials of the collaborators who made the changes (e.g., “WC05_Market_Trends_Report_ver1_AC”).

Having copies of the same file, but as different versions, is an option if you want to download these versions to your business’s computer desktop or hard drive, instead of keeping them online. Having a different version can also be useful if you want to send this version to a client or any third party. When a copy is made of any version of a document, it is saved as a new Doc, without the version history attached to it. The comments and suggestions are also not copied.

You might find that at some point, you would like to preserve some content from an older version, but not the whole document. In this case, you can go to the older version and look for the information that you want to keep, then right-click to show the context menu, and select Copy. Then, go to the newest version and place the cursor where you want the recovered paragraphs to be, and right-click to the context menu Paste. This will keep your newest version, while adding the older paragraphs.

In addition to saving a copy by the context menu of the three dots, there are other commands available in the list of versions. Right on top of the window of each version there are two different commands you can choose from, zoom in and print, as shown in Figure 3.69. Some people like to have hard copies of versions of documents for archiving purposes.

A date and time and Restore this version button are visible. Print is located on the toolbar. A label states: You can zoom, or print any version. Total: 8 edits is visible.
Figure 3.69 When browsing versions, you can always print a version you want save. (Google Docs is a trademark of Google LLC.)

Restoring Versions

There may be instances when you want to revert to a previous version of the document. This is called version restore. This could occur for a variety of reasons. For example, you might realize some key information that is now needed was in a previous iteration of the document. Your team could also agree that a previous version might be preferred after additional edits are made. This feature of versioning in Docs can offer you some assurance that even if a document has gone through several stages, the previous work on the document is not lost and can be accessed through Restore.

On the main window, where the versions are being read, there is a notification on the top right corner displaying the number of edits of that particular session, as Figure 3.70 shows. Next to the number of edits are two arrows; these are toggles for viewing the session changes. The first change of the May 6, 6:19pm session was to change the date of the marketing report.

You can also restore a version without having it on the main window display by selecting the three dots beside the version and selecting Restore this version. The newer version will not be the current version anymore, as the older version now supersedes it.

(a) Total: 8 edits displays. (b) Edit 1 of 8 displays next to up/down arrows labeled: Toggle from one change to the next. In the document, a cursor with a name displays.
Figure 3.70 (a) Google keeps track of the number of edits in the document, as you can see on the top right. (b) You can use the arrows to move through the edits to determine if you want to keep the changes. (Google Docs is a trademark of Google LLC.)

If, after reviewing each change, you decide that one of the older versions is better than the current one, you can select the large Restore this version button at the top of the window (Figure 3.71).

A Restore this version button displays with label: After rechecking changes, you can restore this version using this button. An editor’s name is highlighted and labeled: Final change in this session.
Figure 3.71 Google gives you the option also to restore the document to a previous version. (Google Docs is a trademark of Google LLC.)

Keep in mind that the number of versions displayed on the sidebar does not show all the versions available. If you go to the sidebar, you’ll see that the time stamps are typically a certain length of time apart, as you can see in Figure 3.72. That means that there are hidden versions from when the editing was taking place. Each version has many changes that were happening seconds or minutes apart. You can access these micro changes in each session by clicking on the triangle on the left of the version.

(a) A document version is highlighted and Restore this version is selected. (b) A version list displays one version highlighted and a Show changes button selected.
Figure 3.72 (a) The versions are both time and date stamped. (b) You can restore to a particular version, make a copy of the version, or rename the version. (Google Docs is a trademark of Google LLC.)

To quickly see new changes in a file, Docs has a See New Changes alert. It appears where the date normally appears, next to the Help menu. If you select that, you’ll be able to see the recent changes from other editors—specifically, you will see all the changes that you haven’t seen since the last time you opened the file. This functionality is useful for quickly and easily seeing changes from collaborators without having to access the version history.

Versioning in Microsoft Word

Microsoft Office has many options for accessing version histories but can be done only if the file is stored in OneDrive or SharePoint Figure 3.73.

An Info screen displays a document with categories for: Protect Document, Inspect Document, Version History, and Manage Document. Properties of the document are listed such as size, pages, etc.
Figure 3.73 The version history in Microsoft Word desktop is activated if the document is located in OneDrive. (Used with permission from Microsoft)

If you have a desktop version of Word, you have to sign in to your Microsoft account. You will be able to access the last 25 versions of your file on OneDrive (that is, if your file is stored on OneDrive), as you can see in Figure 3.74.

A Word Doc is shown. An open pane displays the Version History, listing dates, time, and editors. If the version is open, Open version is listed in blue font.
Figure 3.74 When you choose Version History from Info, you will see a pane open on the right side of the document with the versions that are saved. (Used with permission from Microsoft)

You can access your version histories in Word by going to the File tab and selecting History. If you have a Microsoft 365 Word subscription, you can access the version history by going to the File tab, then Info, followed by Version History. There you can see the versions available and browse through them. You can also choose to restore a previous version, as Figure 3.75 shows. Moreover, if you have SharePoint Server or SharePoint365, the possibilities of versioning are much more powerful, allowing as many as 500 versions to be retained, as you can track a version’s history, view multiple earlier iterations, determine who can edit or write on the files, control the number of versions stored, and more.

(a) Info window selects: Open in Desktop App. (b) A blank screen displays: Select a version from the Version History pane. Version History pane highlights a Just now/Current version.
Figure 3.75 (a) Microsoft 365 also has Version History that is also accessed through the File tab. (b) Select a version from the pane on the right to see that version of the document. (Used with permission from Microsoft)

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