Web 2.0 online spreadsheets

When we talk about Web 2.0, a lot of people would think of Web-based software as services, such as the suite of software provided by Google - Gmail, Calendar, and Docs & Spreadsheets.

When we talk about Web 2.0, a lot of people would think of Web-based software as services, such as the suite of software provided by Google - Gmail, Calendar, and Docs & Spreadsheets. Delivering software as a service is of course not new. During the dot-com bubble of 1997-2001 there were scores of application service providers or ASPs. What differentiates this current wave of services is that Web 2.0 provides a new architecture, namely AJAX, that makes Web-based applications more interactive and desktop-like. This together with Javascript-dominated Rich Internet Applications (RIA) makes Web 2.0 style application services very attractive alternatives to traditional desktop applications.

Speaking of alternatives to desktop applications, this week I would like to highlight Web 2.0 online spreadsheet services. There are actually quite a few free spreadsheet services to select from - Google, EditGrid, iRows, Numbler, Num Sum and Zoho Sheet. (BTW, iRows will cease operations soon. A couple of weeks ago, iRows founders joined Google.)

Although Google Spreadsheet is probably more well-known, feature wise, EditGrid is definitely much more advanced. In fact, many bloggers consider EditGrid to be the best online spreadsheet around. Since so many people have already done very detailed feature-by-feature comparison of EditGrid, I will not repeat them here. However, you can read EditGrid's own comparison between EditGrid, Google, and Microsoft Excel. There is also a simple comparison radar chart of EditGrid with other packages done using EditGrid.

A little known fact is that this really cool Web 2.0 software package is actually developed locally right here in Hong Kong! The company behind EditGrid is Team and Concepts, which was established only a few years ago in 2003 by a group of students from the University of Hong Kong. The company started out as a company focusing on event management software; their Professional Event Management (PEM) platform won a HK IT Excellence Award (the most prestigious ICT award in HK) in 2004. Since then, they have diversified into the Web 2.0 online spreadsheet arena with the first public beta release of EditGrid in April of this year. EditGrid is built on top of the open source projects such as Gnumeric, Open Office, and Catalyst and is integrated with Netvibes, Pageflakes, and Google Personal Homepages.