The Google team has certainly been busy lately, adding new features to their services and apps on what seems like a daily basis. This morning a new drawing tool became available on Google docs, allowing users to create images in any browser that supports VML and SVG. As mentioned in the Google Docs blog, the tool is based on technology acquired when they purchased Tonic Systems in 2007.
From any document, just click on the insert link and choose drawing. The canvas will appear, and you can then add one of the 100+ shapes (all vector-based), add lines and arrows, add text, or do some freehand drawing. Line color and weight can be changed, as can fill colors. Drawings also support z-order so that you can stack shapes in the order you want.
Shapes can also be rotated and flipped, and you can select multiple shapes to perform changes in bulk. Once you've clicked out of the canvas, your drawing is added to the document. From there, you can quickly scale its contents by clicking and dragging any corner.
While it's obviously not as powerful as a full-blown desktop "visual communication" tool like Visio, the new tool gives Google Docs some basic (but welcome) flow charting and diagramming abilities.