Archives: July 2006

31/07 Web 2.0 spreadsheets

There's been a lot of brouhaha about Google Spreadsheets recently - the service is now out of its limited trial, and anyone with a Google account can sign up and have a play. I've also taken a brief look at one of its competitors: the slightly laterally-named EditGrid.

Both offer rich AJAX interfaces and support for up- and downloading spreadsheet files from your computer. Given that both applications intend you to store your data on their servers, however, the Google offering will probably inspire more confidence in data integrity, but more privacy concerns.

Of the two, EditGrid makes the most concerted effort to look like Excel, complete with a menu bar at the top of the page. Google have gone for more of a website look, with just a couple of menus at the very top, and with most functions accessed by a tabbed toolbar above the sheet.

Both implementations allow you to share spreadsheets with your friends (either read-only or read/write) - without making them sign up, unless they want to. (EditGrid have the least intrusive sign-up policy atm - literally you just need to enter a user-name and password. Google want more details, such as an email address for confirmation.) Both handle multiple concurrent access similarly: editing is at the cell level; if two people edit the same cell simultaneously, the last to hit Enter wins. EditGrid has some extra bells and whistles however: if you make a change, the cell flashes red in other people's browser as it updates. Unless they're editing it, for some reason. EditGrid also allows explicit locking of parts of the spreadsheet.

Which is better? Based on my highly-detailed 5-minutes of experience with both, I'd say Google for the brand and probable longevity; EditGrid for features and probable user-interface familiarity.