Google is not the leader in Ajax applications

by Hari K. Gottipati

InformationWeek reviewed online Ajax applications in 6 different categories: Calendar, Email, Info Manager, Spreadsheets, Webtops, Word processors. In their definite perception, it is evident that Google is the emergent conqueror in 4 out of 6 categories. Google lost the race in Webtops category and it is behind Zoho writer in Word processor category. Some of these outcomes won't make sense for me as the way I looked at the applications. In my decisive point of view, Google is only winner in two categories: Mail, Info Manager and Zoho is also the winner in two categories: Spreadsheet, Writer. Anyway take a look at the results+my pick:

FeatureWinnerRunnerAlso AvailableAlso AvailableMy Pick
CalendarGoogle Calendar30 BoxesCalendarHubKiko30 Boxes
E-MailGMailYahoo MailAOL MailWindows Live MailGMail
Info ManagerGoogle NotebookBackpackVoo2doTimeTrackerGoogle Notebook
SpreadsheetGoogle SpreadsheetsZoho SheetNum SumiRowsZoho Sheet
WebtopPageflakes and YouOSGoowyProtopageWindows LivePageflakes
Word ProcessorZoho WriterWritelyajaxWriteWriteboardZoho Writer leads in Ajax versions, but ThinkFree(Java Applet version) is the best


Let me explain why I picked(some of those) differently:

Calendar: I like Google calendar, 30 Boxes along with Kiko. But 30 Boxes is the emergent winner in my opinion. I like the RSS feed feature in 30 Boxes(it supports many more feature such as Flickr, Google search etc) where you can add that to calendar. Google calendar doesn't provide these features. What surprised me about Kiko is, it was on sale on eBay and the makers are no longer interested in taking Kiko further.

E-Mail: I am not a big fan of thread approach in GMail as it always combine received mails and sent mails together in single thread which some times confuses me. But the GMail's greatness is simple look & feel and text ads which never bothers me. Also the GTalk integration with GMail is impressive. I like Yahoo mail interface better than GMail because of its drag & drop feature and I am more relaxed with folders than labels. But the major drawback in Yahoo mail is annoying ads which always bothers me and each time ad changes it distracts my concentration from e-mail. Same with Windows live mail. So my vote is for GMail, but I have to admit that at the moment it has lot of problems. At times it says "loading" and never loads unless you refresh the browser. Also GTalk in GMail tries to reconnect frequently and never works over proxy.

SpreadSheet: I like Zoho Sheet as it supports Charts. Since charts are involved with most of my spread sheets, I have to say Zoho Sheet is the winner. I oppose that Google Spreadsheet is the winner as there is no charting feature.

Info Manager: I agree with the InformationWeek results. I like Google Notebook as it is so convenient to store from any web page with the help of browser plug-in that sits as small, discrete icon in the browser. It also lets you store it directly when you highlight a section of a Web page by right-clicking on it and selecting the option to store to notebook. With the other applications in this category one has to visit their site to store the information.

Webtop: I enjoy pageflakes as it is simple, convenient and it has number of applications to choose. Pageflakes is developed by using Microsoft's Atlas. I like YouOS, but it is more of a browser based desktop to manage Webtops and an IDE to develop Webtops. YouOS is developed by using Dojo toolkit. I will say Windows live gadgets are not upto the mark and I like Yahoo widgets than Live gadgets, but Yahoo widgets are desktop based.

Word Processor: I am surprised that ThinkFree could not make in the list. I assume InformationWeek did not even consider the ThinkFree online office as their Ajax version is not good, but their Java(Applet based) version has much advanced features which you cannot find with other online Ajax based processors. Since this is a Ajax applications comparison, they must have subsequently disregarded it. But its a worth to try it. It also proves that what cannot be done with Ajax can be done with Java(if you think initial loading of the Applet and forcing the browser to have Java is not a concern) . In Ajax applications, I accept that Zoho Writer is better than Writely as it has cool features such as word to HTML conversion.

Maps: Even though InformationWeek discarded this category, let me touch this too. If you consider the look and feel, again Google steals the show. But as a developer I worry about the features, not the look and feel. Compared to Google, Yahoo has number of APIs(not only Java Script APIs, it has Flash/Flex APIs) to mash up with maps. You can mash up maps with their Traffic API, Flickr API, Local Search API, Upcoming.org API, RSS feeds API. On the other hand, Microsoft has Brid's eye images which is missing in Google maps. As per the reliable sources Google is currently(secretively) working on Bird's eye maps.

What's your pick among these applications? Google or you also say "Na!". Share your thoughts in comments.

8 Comments

Brian
2006-08-24 05:43:01
My favorite start page is pageflakes.com - I totally agree with your analysis.


Regards
Brian

Lutfar Rahman
2006-08-24 06:48:48
I am using Pageflakes too. I read news from its RSS reader. And its application is superb. I love its Mail Flake. And I have customized Pageflakes for my own business using its sharing and publishing features. Which I never seen to other Startpage like live.com or protopage or netvibes. So I think www.pageflakes.com is unparallel. No compromize with it.
Alan
2006-08-25 14:33:39
I would recommend you to try out EditGrid .
Although they don't support charts now, they have promised to release it in a week.
Apart from that, they offer many exciting features that other web spreadsheets don't have, like remote data, comprehensive API, post to blog, etc.
me
2006-08-25 17:58:12
Pageflakes doesn't work at all here. I can't even tell what it exactly is supposed to do...
Actually gmail is the only app I actually use. So to me, they're all losers.
Graeme Williams
2006-08-27 18:46:02
In my opinion, Microsoft's Live Local (= Live maps) is clearly better than Google Maps. Live Local makes it easy to build up a map with multiple pushpins. I use it when I'm visiting a new city to indicate the airport, my hotel and the nearby restaurants on a single map.


You don't have to log in to use this feature, but if you do, you can save the collection of pushpins you've made.

Hari K Gottipati
2006-08-27 23:40:08
Graeme,
You are absolutely right. With live maps you can have multiple searches and can view them at once. On left hand side it stores all the search queries and each query is marked by a different color. Map shows all the results(results of multiple queries) as push pins which are easily identified by the color to map the pushpin with the corespondent query.
Jason
2007-03-04 01:13:47
Google is finally moving to Ajax in a big way it seems. Since dec,2006 it has moved most of its search API to Ajax.
Sugar
2007-05-11 16:36:20
That bookmark tag reminds me... what about bookmarks? And photos and video... can't have enough of those.