Google Spreadsheets?

by M. David Peterson

Just getting my day started, and in doing so noticed a new "Spreadsheets" link on the top left hand side "Menu Bar" contained inside the Gmail interface. Out of curiosity I clicked and found what seems to be a pretty slick little personal spreadsheet tool,

[Access 1024x768 view]

I have a tendency to discredit folks who make attempt at building hosted applications intended for use within web browsers, and this hasn't changed. But when it comes to Google, I have to keep reminding myself that,


David Van Couvering
2006-08-11 13:49:19
Hi, David. I wrote a blog on this a while back, and it engendered some interesting discussion...

M. David Peterson
2006-08-11 15:43:45
Hi David,

Thanks for taking the time to comment! I am downloading JavaDB as we speak.

I agree 100% with your point regarding the need for the data to reside locally. In fact, even beyond the privacy issue (which is obviously of SIGNIFICANT concern), I feel that hosted applications and related data is a recipe for disaster like none other. See for more details.

Directly related to your point regarding data residing locally, see [1,2]



BTW... I see several mentions of Ajax-enabled apps that use JavaDB -- If you happen to read this follow-up would you mind pointing me to one or two of them that you feel best represent some of potential uses for this combination?

Thanks in advance!

2006-08-11 17:26:36
Then read this article about AOL data and start to think about online services.
M. David Peterson
2006-08-11 19:34:49

Isn't that just NUTTS! While I recognize this as a mistake that was obviously just that -- a mistake -- it helps re-emphasize the idea that the data that we generate, collect, and in many cases, create, should never be stored (from a *PRIMARY* storage provider standpoint) ANYWHERE other than our own devices in which we maintain control FULL control over. For sake of convenience, projects such as GDrive, LiveDrive, or any of the extensive number of backup services make sense. But in cases such as this, this data needs to be encrypted with a public/private keypair that we generate, and we keep control over -- this would ensure that the benefits that would come with services such as those mentioned above could be just that -- benefits, but without the risk of these benefits running risk of *ANY* level of privacy "leaks".

There are absolutely no advantages that are gained by potential suitors such as these same mentioned folks that would provide them any level of competitive advantage by acting as the primary hosting facilitator for our data. The benefits come from the ability to be able to share our data with folks that *WE CHOOSE* to share this data with, without running the risks involved with hosting this same data via a publicly accessible folder on our own machines, even if that same folder invoked security measures to ensure that we could control who had access, and who doesn't.

The larger companies such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Yahoo have the ability to invest heavily into systems in which are MUCH MORE secure than opening up our own machines to serve up this same data -- This is the value they provide, while also providing MUCH LARGER pipes that are able to handle the loads placed on them, while at the same time dealing with things such as DOS attacks in a way that would make such attacks, for all intents and purposes, useless.

Theres a TON of value in this type of scenario, without the need to maintain control over the data itself -- we can do that; maintain a local copy, rsync (or equivalent) the encrypted data to their system, and then provide access to this data via sharing our public keys with those in whom we are desires to share these keys with, which, of course, would include sharing these keys with our various devices in which we would like to access this data from.

In fact, this very topic needs a new post to bring a lot of this to the surface, as their is simply too much at stake here for this information not to be propogated, and discussed, such that the potential suitors to the mentioned services will understand just what it is in which we have interest in them providing for us, and just what it is that we do not.

My day is quickly coming to a close, and I have a project I need to finish and get posted, but I will add this post to the top of my list for this weekend -- would make a nice discussion to begin next week with :D

Thanks for taking the time to comment!

James Hales
2006-08-12 21:10:25
The main purpose I think about Google Spreadsheets is to be able to share your work and collaborate with others, or to be able to access your work anywhere. Why would you want to use Google Spreadsheets if not for those benefits? It would be the same as Microsoft Excel, or Calc, except that its browser-based, and inferior in comparison.

If you merely want a portable spreadsheet application, I suggest looking into Portable, which you can run from a 256MB USB flash drive.

Simon Hibbs
2006-08-18 09:51:05
I agree with James Hales. I've set myself up with Google Spreadsheets, and I intend to use it, but not as my main spreadsheet app. The main advantage for me is the ability to publish directly to the web. No other spreadsheet app offers that capability - uploading spreadsheet files just doesn't come close.

I'm going to be very interested to see what mashups people come up with that use Google Spreadsheets. I don't even know if this is possible without an API, but it's all javascript isn't it? Surely it must be possible to automate access to the sheets.

Simon Hibbs

2006-08-20 02:45:10
When I first saw the spreads a couple of months ago I thought Google were crazy - why replicate fat client functionality on a browser. Then I found I was using it all the time instead of Excel.
The other day I saw a support request at work - how do you make your changes in a shared workbook automatically get updated to other users - I realised this is basic Google Spreadsheets functionality that Excel doesn't have. I'll be interested to see whether they try to extend it to bring in macros etc.