Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Ben Dilts, CTO & Co-founder of Lucidchart. -- Steve Bazyl
The release of Drive SDK allowing deep integration with Google Drive shows how serious Google is about making Drive a great platform for third parties to develop.
There are a handful of obvious ways to use the SDK, such as allowing your users to open files from Drive in your application, edit them, and save them back. Today, I'd like to quickly cover some less-obvious uses of the Drive API that we’re using at Lucidchart.
Applications have the ability to create new files on Google Drive. This is typically used for content created by applications. For example, an online painting application may save a new PNG or JPG to a user's Drive account for later editing.
One feature that Lucidchart has long provided to its users is the ability to download their entire account's content in a ZIP file, in case they (or we!) later mess up that data in some way. These backups can be restored quickly into a new folder by uploading the ZIP file back to our servers. (Note: we’ve never yet had to restore a user account this way, but we provided it because customers said it was important to them.)
The problem with this arrangement is that users have to remember to do regular backups, since there's no way for us to automatically force them to download a backup frequently and put it in a safe place. With Google Drive, we now have access to a reliable, redundant storage mechanism that we can push data to as often as we would like.
Lucidchart now provides automated backups of these ZIP files to Google Drive on a daily or weekly basis, using the API for creating new files on Drive.
Another use for the files.create call is to publish finished content. Lucidchart, like most applications, stores its editable files in a custom format. When a user completes a diagram or drawing, they often download it as a vector PDF, image, or Microsoft Visio file to share with others.
Lucidchart is now using the create file API to export content in any supported format directly to a user's Google Drive account, making it easy to sync to multiple devices and later share those files.
Google Drive can't automatically index content created by Lucidchart, or any other application that saves data in a custom format, for full-text search. However, applications now have the ability to explicitly provide HTML content to Google Drive that it can then index.
Indexable text provided to the Drive API is always interpreted as HTML, so it is important to escape HTML entities. And if your text is separated into distinct pieces (like the text in each shape in Lucidchart), you can improve full-text phrase searching by dividing your indexable text into one div or paragraph element per piece. Both the files.create and files.update calls provide the ability to set indexable text.
We hope that this overview helps other developers implement better integrations into the Google Drive environment. Integrating with Drive lets us provide and improve a lot of functionality that users have asked for, and makes accessing and using Lucidchart easier overall. We think this is a great result both for users and web application developers and urge you to check it out.