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Technology

EditGrid betas Excel plugin

From a reader comes news that EditGrid has launched a private beta for an Excel plugin for offline work on spreadsheets. Pretty cool, as Mashable explains:

As there are several levels of integration, the whole of the integration is rather seamless — it takes no time to load sheets from EditGrid to Excel, and you can work offline if need be and update at a later time.

EditGrid made the announcement on their official blog:

When people think of compatibility across spreadsheet applications, people tend to think of fidelity — whether the spreadsheet file exported from one application can be imported into another application without loss of quality or detail. While EditGrid has been doing pretty well in this arena, we are not satisfied with this — exporting spreadsheet data from EditGrid into a file means that the data have become “offline”. It means that the user loses something — the ability to get real-time updated data and collaborate with each other online — that the user is entitled to on EditGrid.

It’s a huge step on the way to mainstream usage in industry. I didn’t see this coming, but now that I’m aware of it, it seems like such an obvious extension to the previously strictly online app.

Sign up for the private beta and give the future of spreadsheets a whirl.

Categories
Web

EditGrid User Survey response

EditGrid, the online spreadsheet app that mimics Excel in format and functionality, sent me a survey a week ago through email. The survey sought my thoughts on the following questions:

  1. Use Cases: What are you using EditGrid for?
  2. Features: What new features do you desire the most?
  3. Usability: How can we present our features better to you and help you work more efficiently? We welcome your suggestions, from small refinements to major improvements.

I wanted to keep my answers concise, since I figured they were going to get a lot of responses. I wrote back:

  1. I’m testing out EditGrid with personal spreadsheets and blogging about it (neilmcintyre.ca)
  2. Just make it more responsive and more like Excel
  3. Present the features as in Excel – I guess this entails copying their new format (Office 2007)

Responsiveness would be at the top of the list, as I found it to be lagging a bit compared to Google Spreadsheets. Some specific features I use in Excel (reflexively) are still missing and I do miss them when I notice, but it’s the lag that kills the experience.

Reading over my response now, a few days later, I’m wondering whether point #3 is really all that helpful. Office 2007 doesn’t have that ubiquity just yet that 2003 enjoys, and the difference in interface is shocking. Copying the ribbon at this point may not be the best plan.

That being said, they’re on the right track.

Sending out a survey to existing customers is a great way to solicit feedback. Smart, proactive accounting firms are probably already doing this with their client base, and using the comments and suggestions to adjust their service offerings accordingly.

Categories
Web

Spreadsheets: My thoughts on EditGrid

I recently tried out EditGrid, in response to a post by Dennis on recent enhancements. I had already been using Google Spreadsheets a little bit, but not too much, because, quite frankly, it just wasn’t all that intuitive. I consider myself a fairly advanced Excel user, and Google Spreadsheets just didn’t have the same level of ease of use.

EditGrid screenI blogged about Google’s spreadsheets app before, but never from a personal point of view. I barely used the thing. I had a few random sheets up which I’d authored in Excel, but never really did much editing of them.

(Google Gears may allow one to use the application offline in the future. I think we may see more business usage when this happens. Currently Google Gears is offered for Reader only.)

So, I was open to other options. I’d already decided that I was going to move all my personal documents online, since I didn’t have anything all that confidential personally to protect. My financial data isn’t stored in Excel and if it was, I might be hesitant to upload those files.

I work with Excel so much for work, I thought it would be hard for a web app to make a positive impression on me by comparison. But right away EditGrid presented me with an interface that looks and works reassuringly similar to Excel. The top menu even has those familiar options: File, Edit, View, Format, Insert and Data!

EditGrid looks so much like Excel it is really easy for someone familiar with Microsoft’s spreadsheet software to jump right in and be productive right away, which is something I couldn’t say about Google Spreadsheets. Google succeeds in simplifying every piece of software it releases, but I actually think EditGrid’s strategy works better for what is still a pretty geeky type of software.

And it can’t hurt having some information not firmly in the clutches of Google.

Right now I think EditGrid is a more complete spreadsheet app compared to Google’s, but both still trail Excel in features and ease of use. I’m hoping they can close the gap sooner rather than later.