The wicked weakest App in Google Apps

Post date: Sep 11, 2013 4:03:58 PM

Even though I keep a current list of "What I dislike about Google Apps (GApps)?", I would like to put together a few ideas about the #1 in my list: Shared Contacts across the Domain.

Well, we are Google Apps reseller and I am always promoting and showing the benefits and features of Cloud Computing using Google Apps for your Business, however when it comes to this topic - Shared Contacts - I choke a bit and have to look around for alternatives on something that should be part of Google Apps fabric.

Current Google approach to Shared Contacts under Directory looks to me an incomplete, inconsistent and cumbersome solution for sharing contacts. Mostly because there is no actual contacts address books for sharing with different access levels across domain users and groups.

Shared Contacts "App" current limitations:

  1. No contacts books (like contacts lists for grouping and organization, ex. Partners, Customers, Vendors)
  2. No access levels by user groups, differentiating none, view and edit permissions.
  3. Read only access for every user from Contacts User interface (Ui) under Directory folder - even though you can edit the contact's info, it won't be saved (this glitch brings some hope though).
  4. Adding / editing Shared Contacts is only possible through a separate Script or App from your own Organization or from a third party provider

How could Google fix Shared Contacts App:

  1. Adding Contacts App new functionality to the Admin console, allowing for definition of contacts books and sharing them for view or edit with users and groups within the Domain.
  2. Showing these contacts books as folders hanging from the Directory folder on Contacts, allowing for view or edit as per user's permission.

Current workaround choices in the meantime:

  1. For very small organizations Delegated Contacts might be a choice although with serious limitations.
  2. Third party Apps usually running outside your domain and mostly using Shared Contacts, what brings all its shortcomings.
  3. We are currently working in a Directory App (still in beta) running and keeping the data within the domain, showing contacts books as labels (contacts groups) hanging from My Contacts on each user with access.

Backup notes for this post:

Contacts is about personas or in other words persons, roles, uses and visibility

Currently on different levels and mostly disconnected:

- administration: domain users, organizational units,

- domain: shared contacts (domain directory), domain groups,

- user: user's contacts, contact's groups,

- social: g+ circles, g+ communities

What are these groups good for?

- domain groups: sharing, forum, scripting

- contact's groups: visual organization (labels), scripting

- g+ circles/communities: social interactions