Google Spreadsheets - for the enterprise?

by Shashank Tiwari

There is one thing certainly real about Google Spreadsheets and that is "hype" !

Recently, a fellow blogger claimed the end of server side java was possible with the emergence of Google spreadsheets. Do Google Spreadsheets mean the end of Java?. Praises of Google Spreadsheets like everything else Google is commonplace, but this took me by surprise and makes me ask a more fundamental question - Is Google Spreadsheets even a spreadsheet that an enterprise could use? MS Excel, the most widely adopted of Spreadsheets in the enterprise today, not only provides the nifty functions and data management features (sorting and filtering type of capabilities) - some of which Google has replicated - but also provides a rich VB Macro based programming possibility and an easy integration with all the other MS Office applications. Excel spreadsheets can be easily dropped into the Outlook mail client and embedded into MS Word. Business users love MS Excel, not only because of its built-in features but the fact that plug-ins exist for functionality ranging from budgeting to exchange connectivity to software life cycle management to rules definition. Even if Google Spreadsheets API was so simple that it took a developer a couple of days to build a useful plug-in - its still a few years before it reaches anywhere close to what is available with MS Excel. How about Google letting us import the spreadsheets into Gmail for starters?

Is Google Spreadsheets an online collaboration extension to spreadsheets like MS Excel or is it anything more? (Microsoft already has an initiative to bring the spreadsheet to the web).

Remember, that I like Google and I am a Java evangelist but should that make me blind?


2007-01-20 05:40:33
Yes, VBA is one of the most important values for M$. Maybe they don't even know about this fact, because they remove support for it in Office 2007 for Mac.
Paul Browne - Technology in plain English
2007-01-20 13:42:46
Thanks for the reference to the blogpost, and the considered reply even if you don't agree with me :-)

My point (and I'll do a follow up post as the previous one has succeeded only in annoying people , and not getting the message across) is as follows:

- The way IT solves problems is changing: now we have the option of using online services via an API (of which Google is one). The services are just beginning, but will get more and more sophisticated over time.

- Sooner or later these services are going to become a viable part of the enterprise culture (and a large part of this is Google building trust on behalf of customers).

- Once this happens , the emphasis in building IT solutions will change from 'run it on our own (Java) server' to 'Glue together a solution hosted partly by others'

- Is Java the language best suited for the 'Glue togther solution'? That is the question posed in the article title!


2007-01-20 15:37:13

You're trying to backpedal furiously, but it's not working. Go back and reread your post. Every single bit of it was laughably stupid. In five or ten years when your bold prediction has failed to come to pass (and I predict Google spreadsheet won't even kill Excel, let alone Java) you'll probably cringe with embarassment and hope no one doing a Google search (ha!) on your name stumbles upon it.

Like all these other Java doomsayers, however, you don't give a timeframe. It's like when the Ruby cultists persist in saying that Ruby is going to catch fire any time now, and wipe Java off the map. Well, they've been saying it for years now. When's it going to happen?

Simon Hibbs
2007-01-21 04:33:16
No enterprise is going to rely on an external freebie application hosted by another company, with no contractual framework, for managing essential financial personnel data. Not even engineering data. The security and accountability implications are huge, and dwarf any technical issues.

Google Spreadsheets is a nice toy, but even using a fast DSL connection the responsiveness is awful and it lacks many basic features, let alone scriptability. Also consider change management. If a feature you use changes or dissapears in Excel, just don't upgrade, but with Google Spreadsheets you have no control over that whatsoever.

I'm sorry, but all the hype about Google Spreadsheets as an enterprise solution are hugely naive and ill informed. There are so many issues far beyond the technical merits of the application that make it a non-starter.

P.S. Why would you want to embed an on-line application into an email message? That's what links are for, and actually you can already do that - email a link using gmail directly from spreadsheets

JT Wenting
2007-01-22 00:02:29
Google Spreadsheet, like GMail, just isn't an appropriate tool for anyone who values the security and privacy of his data.
This is true for individuals as well as (and even more so for) companies.
If a company were to use Google Spreadsheet for its financial systems they'd be giving their entire financial history and planning to Google to sell to the highest bidder, just as they would do with their internal communications if they used GMail for that.

So even if you were to agree with the assertion that all a company needs to succeed and flourish is a spreadsheet (I don't), Google spreadsheet would be the wrong one.

If anything this will reduce sales of MS Office to individuals and maybe small businesses (who are often less well informed about the risks to their data security of using tools like Google spreadsheet) and the proliferation of free office suits like OpenOffice.
But the effect there will be marginal unless Google also releases a spreadsheet and presentation package and bundles it all so you can pull data from one document format into another seemlessly like you can with integrated office suits.

Paul's post to me was just the daily "Java is dead" post, really old and highly tiring.

2007-01-22 11:05:51

I am struggling to understand you, but I am only getting more confused trying to unify your comments. In the thread related to your original article, you said to me the following...

- JCN: You've correctly identified one of Java's remaining Niches as system integration. But is that the only Niche?

And now you're saying this...

Is Java the language best suited for the 'Glue togther solution'? That is the question posed in the article title!

So please, what are we talking about here?

Do me : please
2007-01-22 20:42:26

I tried to understand your point, but not sure if it works.

Did your meaning of
"if google spreadsheets' ideas (sharable, free, secure etc), it will kill j2ee"
can be implied as
"if SAP (which mostly can do every major business functionalities) is free, it will kill VB or other languages (VB will have a little job less, little customizations) " ?

If your answer is "yes". I still not agree with you, is that just un-real-able or may-be-real-but-50-years-later imagination? which every can say. For example, does a smart robot mean the end of housewife? Prediction in very long period in computer world is very easy, but prediction in short period is very hard.

How long was "no silver bullet" written? have any applications that can completely replace programmers?

and the last ...
are ever users' requirements finish?
If you involve with software developments, you would understand that "no end of human's needs".

PS:Another thing, why you have to focus insist-ly only j2ee? because it's posted on

Guy Mac
2007-01-23 08:11:29
Ironically, applications written using the Google Web Toolkit are written in Java!
JT Wenting
2007-01-24 22:50:13
I think Paul's writing a book about Google spreadsheets and scripting languages, how they're making Java obsolete, and is trying to do some pre-publication marketing.

Pretty similar to Bruce Tate who went from a longterm Java advocate to the greatest adversary of Java in the space of a few days when he signed a nice contract and book deal with a Ruby consultancy firm...

Fred W
2007-01-26 07:07:48
Google may succeed in this venture if they do one simple (in theory, simple) thing: Fix the common math mistakes and eliminate the extra, hack-ish tasks that you have to do to get Excel to do what you want. I'm in graduate school and two classes that I have taken so far - Stats and Engineering economy - they give you two solutions to each problem - Don't use Excel or Use Excel and here are the 10 steps you need to do to fix Excel's mistakes.

In addition, I agree with the poster's comments about enterprise critical applications depending on free ware - not gonna happen.

Fred W
2007-01-26 07:13:13
Let me clarify my earlier post about free ware - I'm not talking about open source, I was referring to online delivered free ware, such as Google spreadsheets. Heck, I can't even get our company to allow us to set up google group listservs for all of our outside customers. They don't want any company information out there.
2007-04-11 05:55:32
Ich erklare meinen Freunden uber diese Seite. Interessieren!
2007-04-14 23:38:37
Interesting comments.. :D