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AJAXOffice, the next big thing

Posted by johnreynolds on October 26, 2005 at 7:01 AM PDT

Contrary to Jonathan Schwartz's "common sense" views, rewriting OpenOffice in AJAX will revolutionize the software industry, reverse global warming, and promote good posture.

I'm kidding. Really.

Jonathan makes good points in his recent blog about OpenOffice and AJAX:

"The language in which a product is written has nothing to do with the value it conveys."

I cannot agree more... but I think the point of any OpenOffice/AJAX discussion has more to do with the product itself than with language concerns.

I like browser-based tools.

My primary email is now Google's Gmail. Other mail clients have more features, but with Gmail all my information is as close as the nearest public "kiosk" browser or WiFi hotspot... Gmail even works on the browser on my Dell Axim PocketPC.

Despite the availability of much better tools, my primary blog editor is browser-based. Java.net's Moveable Type is, to put it politely, somewhat minimalistic, but it serves my needs, and (once again) it's as close as the nearest (full screen) browser (doesn't work too well on the default PocketPC browser).

When GCalendar comes out, I will use it. GCalc and GBase might be quite nice too. Once again, it's about having the functionality as close as the nearest browser... perhaps degraded due to the limitations of the browser, but available.

I'm probably naive, but I also think of services provided by others as "safer" than those that are hosted on my own machine. Sure, somebody may hack Gmail and get access to my correspondence, but I think the likelihood is about the same as that of someone hacking into my home machine and doing the same thing. I hate to admit it, but if Gmail gets hacked, I am more likely to know than if someone hacks my home machine.

So does this mean I want an AJAX presentation layer for OpenOffice? I guess the answer is a definite "that would be nice, but it's only part of the solution".

What I want is a significant chunk of the OpenOffice functionality available from a trusted service provider, and delivered through a browser-based interface (that does not require me to install plugins).

Plugins to enhance the user-experience would be great, but I want to be able to use these tools from public kiosks (where they frown on users installing additional plugins).

Jonathan's comments about "giving services an opportunity to project multiple user experiences" is dead on target. Just don't discount the "public kiosk" browser as one of those experiences.

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