Web-Based Office Suites Need Some Jujitsu


I know several people who use Google Mail, Yahoo! Calendar, web-based feed readers and the like in an effort to free themselves from any one operating system or any single machine. You'll see them with their Mac one day at a conference and their tablet the next--just because they can.

This works OK for them, but they're die-hards--intent on doing it for the sake of know how it works. The big fly in the ointment is the so-called office suite: word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation applications.

Oliver Rist decided to spend a week using nothing but a browser and see how things went. His story appeared in InfoWorld last week. His conclusion: the applications are mostly not worth the trouble, but ZoHo was the best of the bunch.

Writely (Google) and ZoHo's Writer are both pretty good and you'll find the feature sets adequate for most of what you do (go try Writer, it's kind of fun). The problems are, as you'd expect, to be found in the interoperability with Word--something you probably can't live without.

Oliver makes an important observation:

Google’s Writely and Spreadsheets are impressive examples of Web 2.0 technology, but neither can compete with a desktop app on its own. And neither takes enough advantage of the Web’s particular technologies as yet.
From Can Web-based applications outwit, outplay, outlast the desktop? | By Oliver Rist
Referenced Tue Oct 10 2006 08:41:23 GMT-0600 (MDT)

That's really the key point, I think. For various reasons, Web-based application will fall short of their local-app cousins for a long time to come. They win and offer value by taking advantage of the Web, not making excuses for it. A little Web jujitsu, if you will.