Phil Sim

Web, media, PR and… footy

I’ve flipped already

I’ve previously noted that I’ve been doing the bulk of my writing in an online word processor of late, Zoho Writer. However, since I’ve been storing more than a half dozen or so documents I’ve become a bit frustrated with the way it handles your document archive and so I had another crack at Writely.

This time round, I didn’t have any problems at all with Writely. I’d previously had all sorts of issues with the spellcheck. I’m not sure if they’ve fixed it or if its related to the fact I’m now using Firefox but I’ve not had any issues lately and I do much prefer the way it manages documents.

So for the moment I’ve flipped word processors. And it’s been all too easy. I haven’t forked out a cent for the service, so I have no financial qualms about changing, I don’t have to install any new software or worry about file incompatibilities. That’s great for me, not so great for Writely or Zoho though, which have to keep competing to maintain me as a user.

The one thing neither have is automatic spellcheck. For both I have to click the spellcheck button to get my little red squiggly lines, that Word inserts automatically. I’ve left feedback with both camps requesting the feature and whichever one delivers the functionality will win me until there’s a new feature I find myself needing.

It’s a similiar situation with my homepage/webtop. I’ve switched between My Yahoo, Google, Netvibes and about a dozen times. They’re all set up similarly with my favourite feeds and then when one of them upgrades I give it a go and then decide whether I go back to my original choice. Even switching calendars is a breeze as most services allow you to export and import.
Now this is the kind of flipping I’m into.

Email tends to be a bit tougher because even if you forward or download your mail to multiple services, you can’t take your sent messages with you. I think that’s why, in the end, people’s portal of choice will be most related to the flavour of email they prefer. After all, there’s absolutely nothing to tie you to search and I think in the end all of the search engines are going to get beter and will eventually have less differentiation between them. Email, as the application most people spend the most amount of time in, remains the killer app IMHO.

Filed under: Webtops, Word Processing

I’m dumping Word but I can’t dump Domino

While I’m fond of bagging out the hype and crap that I see associated with ‘Web 2.0’, I am very much a passionate advocate of hosted applications and where possible I have been moving off desktop applications whenever I find an active web app that does the job properly.
I’ve always thought it would be neat to use an online word processor, but after not finding Writely to my liking, I didn’t think I’d be moving away from Word anytime soon. However, I’ve found myself punching out almost all of my writing of late using ZohoWriter.

The early feedback I saw on ZohoWriter was that it was very much a poor-man’s Writely, but I certainly don’t think that’s the case any more and I find it’s use of screen real estate and so forth makes it work much better for me. (I keep trying to dig Writely because of its tie-in with NetVibes but I seem to always run into issues).
One other Zoho product, I’m keen to try out is Zoho Creator. I’m not a programmer, but I’ve always been able to achieve 95 per cent on what I needed to create for any website I’ve needed building in Lotus Domino/Notes. I then bring in external programmers to do the tricky stuff in Java and what not. It’s always really peeved me that I’ve never found a web developement environment that enables amateur hackers like me to quickly punch out relatively complex web apps like I can do with Domino.

(I’ve yet to find a better development cycle than where the business stakeholder creates an initial prototype/interface and then hands over to a real coder to make work properly)

Zoho creator appears to be coming from this same perspective of enabling non-coders to build web applications and given their portfolio of web apps they’re developing, I’m interested to see how it works (I’ll let you know how I go, assuming I get a beta account!)

Personally, I’d like to see a lot more Web 2.0 developers, allow external parties to private label their technologies or better leverage them in external applications somehow. I keep thinking if I could just take the NetVibes desktop, combines it with Trumba, SugarCRM, ZohoWriter and GMail, customise it all a bit to fit my particular needs and whack my own front end on the front, I’d suddenly have every bit of functionality I’ve ever wanted to build into my MediaConnect sites. As it is, I’ve just spent hours speccing out my next phase of work for MediaConnect, explaining to the developer ‘now if you could make this work like it does on this site, and this do it the way it works on http://www.etc’

And you know what, if you could componentise all these cool web apps like NetVibes, Trumba, ZohoWriter, etc and them license them to other developers to use, then hey presto, a real revenue stream!

Filed under: Web Development, Word Processing

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