Phil Sim

Web, media, PR and… footy

AJAX Challenge: Online Suite Spot

I’m getting well used to using Writely now. Really the only thing its missing for my day-to-day use is an automatic spellcheck. Having become used to Word’s automated red squiggleys I now seldom remember to click on the red squiggleys. So if Squash typos are annoying you, blame Writely.šŸ˜‰

I now post directly from Writely to my WordPress.com blog. That’s really kind of neat. As a journalist I’ve never had a production system where you could sent text straight out of your text editor into a production system. This is a functionality shared by Zoho Writer too.

Speaking of Zoho, I was well pleased to hear that the Zoho spreadsheet is on its way. It was due for any day now but is running a couple of weeks behind schedule. However, I’m already ruminating over what having all my Word documents in Writely and all my spreadsheets in Zoho Sheet will mean.

Zoho has gone on record as to the fact that they’re also working on a Powerpoint tool, so effectively they look like being the first and probably only provider of a full online suite. I’ll be interested to see how they bring this all together.

As I’ve said in the past, the primary reason I’m using Writely is I don’t like how Zoho manages your documents store. It’s fine if you have a half dozen, but as that mounts up, Writer really falls down and Writely with its ability to both tag and archive documents is far superior.

When Zoho pull together their suite, though, they’ll probably be able to leap across any stand-alone applications on this front because really I want to see all my documents, spreadsheets, powerpoint presentations, etc that relate to a single subject aggregated together.

That said, the nirvana is really to pull together my Writely documents, Zoho spreadsheets plus my Trumba calendar appointments, Gmail emails, etc. To all you AJAX desktop companies, take a tip. This is where you need to be focused because at the moment you’re just building gloried RSS readers. What I really want is to be able to tag something in Writely, Zoho Sheet, GMail, Calendar, tagged news articles, images, etc and them be able to click a tag on my Webtop and pull up everything under that tag regardless of what online app it exists in. Think del.icio.us meets Backpack. But where the aggregation all takes place automatically.

Of course, the challenge here is to be able to pull all of this data out of your various online applications so that you can aggregate it together. In particular, you’ll need to tap into GMail, Yahoo Mail or Hotmail because that’s where most people spend most of their day, these days, and that’s where your most valuable data lies.

So while an Office suite provider like Zoho is aiming to become, has a distinct advantage and could pull its application together in a way that makes life easier than using best of breed standalone online apps, eventually, it’s really only someone like Yahoo, Google or Microsoft that could pull the whole thing together.

Of those, Yahoo could do this most easily. Imagine if Yahoo bought Zoho. It could use del.icio.us as a central tag store, with tags from Yahoo Mail, Flickr, Yahoo Writer, Yahoo Sheet, etc all automatically populated. Give My.Yahoo a much needed overhaul built around pulling all this together.

Filed under: AJAX Challenge, Online Applications, Online Spreadsheets, Online Wordprocessing, Webtops

One Response

  1. […] Now that the Googleplex owns my favorite web word-processor, it’s time to give this online software some real power.[http://writely.com] Here’s my to-do list for the new Writely-Google development team: Negatives that need to be fixed – Get Safari to comply with java script standards and be compatible with Writely, this will make widespread adoption by many schools using Macs that much easier- Make configuring and publishing to blogs (especially Blogger) easier; I’m a “web guy” and the controls are difficult for me to understand- Make the editing smoother; Google needs to get on all of the annoying formatting bugs in Writely. Don’t think there are any? Try striking out a chunk of text and then changing it back. Sure everything can be fixed with a few deletions in the HTML, but that kinda defeats the purpose of having a “worry free” collaboration tool available to individuals and small businesses- Image inclusion needs to be a one-button function. As Writely currently exists the only way to add outside images (those not uploaded directly to Writely’s limited servers) is too manually type the code in via HTML. Again, not the solution that most people are looking for.- easily editable tags; if people are going to be expected to use Writely as a Word replacement and a constant collaboration tool, it is absolutely essentially that Writely docs are as easy to organize as emails in Gmail.- better RSS integration – currently there are a lot of threads involved in the creation of Writely feeds, mostly relating to privacy issues. The issue of authenticated feeds will have to be arranged so that knowing when a document has been updated, and how, is no longer a hassle.- easier link sharing; this goes back to the concept of simplified use, Writely docs need the ability to have short, easily read URLs for the easiest public sharing- make the icons and layout more visually appealing and do some serious UI research to figure out the best layout- an automatic spell-check that would really make Squash’s day Positives that could bring Writely to the next level + a Writely module for the Google Personalized Home, similar to the one developed by Netvibes ;)+ more storage; this request is almost a given, luckily Writely docs don’t take up too much space+ a detailed “privacy hierarchy” beyond the simple “share with any combination of emails A,B,C”; what I mean by this is that advanced users should have the option of enabling auto-share of documents to select collaborators, based upon a specific tag(s). In this way one Writely account could more efficiently be managed for the needs of home, school, work, and friends+ text-wrapping around images+ search integration between Writely and other Google Account services and software; I mentioned this in my last post, and I really hope that Google figures something like this out+ instant feed-creation; just skip the “post to blog” and publish your rss feed on anything from family to-dos to Flying Spaghetti Monster meeting notes–straight from Writely. Think Publi.sh , but with style and image functionality. […]

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