What Can You Do with the Drive Platform?
The Drive platform gives you a group of APIs along with client libraries, language-specific examples, and documentation to help you develop apps that integrate with Drive.
The core functionality of Drive apps is to download and upload files in Google Drive. However, the Drive platform provides a lot more than just storage. This page describes some of that functionality and points you to resources for building it into your app.
Create and open files directly from the Drive UI
Your app can appear directly in the Drive UI, letting users choose it to create or open documents.
After users have installed a Drive app and authorized its access to their files, the app is displayed in the Google Drive contextual Open with menu for files of the assigned MIME types. For example, if the Drive image editor Aviary is registered to open PNG files, users can select it from a menu option like the following:
Users can open certain file types with a certain Drive app by default, provided that the app has registered the correct MIME type or extension for default access. For more information, see Setting default and secondary MIME types and extensions.
Your app can also add a custom thumbnail when it creates or saves a file. Drive will then display the file using the custom thumbnail if it can't generate one. For more information, see Uploading thumbnails.
The Create menu in Google Drive lets users create a new file using any app that is installed and that supports UI integration. To create a new file using the application Floorplanner or Gantter, for example, a user can just click on the corresponding icon in the Create menu as shown:
Search for files
Drive automatically indexes the content of most common file types (e.g. .html, .xml, .txt ...) for search as soon as they are uploaded. Also, Drive uses OCR to find text in images or PDF files and "Google Goggles" to examine and index identifiable objects, people and places. For other resources such as drawings or unique file types, apps can provide their own indexable text when they save files to Drive.
As a developer you can also provide the text to be indexed when inserting or modifing a file in Google Drive. This text will be indexed for seach for files which Google Drive can't automatically index the content of.
Distribute and market through Google Drive
A presence in the Chrome web store gives a Drive app access to Chrome Web Store features for installing, distributing, and marketing web apps. In particular, Drive-enabled apps will be discoverable through the Connect apps to Drive dialog inside Google Drive:
Once your app is ready to distribute to the world, a listing in the Chrome Web Store will help it find the users that need and want it. See Create a listing and Help users find your app for more information.
Share and collaborate
Google Drive apps can manage permissions and sharing settings of files. Also, apps can provide commenting and discussions on files, allowing users to work collaboratively on the documents they share in Drive. For more details on these features, see Share files and Manage Comments and Discussions.
Create and open files using shortcuts and the Google picker
Drive files can be opened from an application independently of the Drive UI. An application can easily fetch and display a list of files with the Google Picker as described in Open files using the Google Picker.
Also, applications can create shortcuts to data stored outside of Drive, in a different data store or cloud storage system. If you need to store files or file-like resources outside of Drive for any reason, shortcuts allow you to still list them in Google Drive.
Shortcuts behave a lot like files. They can be opened and created, indexed in
search, and shared
with other users. Unlike regular files, shortcuts do not contain any content,
and when synced
to a desktop are opened as URLs in the user's browser. Synced shortcut files
are assigned the
For information and code samples for shortcuts, see Create a shortcut to a file.
Export and convert Google docs
The Drive platform allows developers to interact with native Google Docs types such as Google Spreadsheets, Presentations, Documents, and Drawings. For instance, if your application is configured to open PDF files, then because Google Documents are exportable to PDF, users will be able to use your application to open those documents.
For a map of the supported formats and more detail about exporting and converting Google docs, see Open and convert Google Docs in your app.