Can Web-based applications outwit, outplay, outlast the desktop?
We sentenced InfoWorld Senior Contributing Editor Oliver Rist to 7 days of using only Web-based productivity applications. Here's how he survivedFollow @infoworld
I hate spreadsheets. In our company, I’m the face guy, the talker, and the writer. My partner does the spreadsheets. I tried to enlist him for this piece, but he threw a stapler at my head, so I stopped asking. Instead, I pulled out my invoicing history spreadsheet -- the one I avoid like the Black Plague -- and determined to update the sucker.
I dug around and found a number of Websheet contenders, including Google Spreadsheets, iRows, JotSpot Tracker, Num Sum, and Zoho Sheet. JotSpot just isn’t my thing. It’s a spreadsheet integrated with a wiki. So first you’ve got to create a new wiki site for yourself, then there’s loads of support for calendars, file cabinets, and other stuff I didn’t associate with spreadsheets, and then the tool selection for working with a spreadsheet simply wasn’t as rich as in the other offerings. I’m not dissing it. JotSpot just seems intended for an interactive, collaborative “experience” more than ordinary spreadsheet work.
That left Google, iRows, Num Sum, and Zoho. All of these could take a paste from a desktop spreadsheet (but only using the Ctrl-V command), all can import spreadsheets from Excel (and others), but formulas are a bit different. The iRows toolbar and menu system had no support for creating formulas. And when I tried to import a spreadsheet containing them, I got a lot of “[something]VALUE#]” errors. iRows bought the farm.
That left Google, Num Sum, and Zoho. All had a similar, Office 97-style look and feel; all offered spreadsheeting capabilities that were more than capable of handling anything I wanted to do. Importing from my own library of spreadsheets was no problem, including formula support. When I timidly asked my partner for an even more advanced spreadsheet, he threw another stapler at me and then sent over an electronic form done entirely within Excel. Unfortunately, none of the three could handle that. Google and Num Sum just blinked a lot and claimed they’d loaded everything, but displayed a blank page. Zoho displayed a few dozen cells of one-letter gobbledygook and also claimed success.
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Thursday: Presentation graphics
I’m not a great salesman, but I am a desperate entrepreneur, and that’s the mother of all sales motivators. Presentations are near and dear to my livelihood. Fortunately for me, the choices were simple. For one, I found only two real contenders: S5 and Zoho. And S5 died the second I opened up the tutorial and saw that “based on XHTML standards” meant actually coding the presentation that way. Sorry, but I’m the face guy for a reason.