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Google Office To Get an API 118

Posted by kdawson
from the don't-say-the-O-word dept.
Orange Crush writes, "Google's new office applications, Docs & Spreadsheets, will provide APIs for custom apps. Johnathan Rochelle, project manager: 'We definitely want to build out APIs, especially for the spreadsheets side, as spreadsheets are more data-oriented, but maybe also for the word processor. People will be able to do mashups with our tools for other things, and not be stuck behind our dev cycle for everything they want. If I've already got data somewhere you can't really rely on manual cut-and-paste to make it collaborative. Imagine pulling data from any application you've already got in use... you get that data over to the hosted app, make it collaborative, then bring it back... that's what we'd like to enable at some point.'" Eating their own dogfood: Rochelle said that "Everybody in [Google] is using the tool" already.
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Google Office To Get an API

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  • I did a quicky review [slashdot.org] of Google's Spreadsheet when they released it six months ago. Since then, it would appear that Google has fixed some of my complaints. In particular:

    1. Cell borders have been added.

    Umm... that's all I've got. :(

    Everything else still appears to be an issue, including the calculation errors I spotted. And while Cell Borders have been added, there is no way to apply different styles. I'm pleased to see that Google is adding a new API for their "Office Suite", but they really need to fix some of these issues before they can be taken seriously.

    Also, the continuing lack of charting is really sticking out. Data visualization is an important feature in a spreadsheet, whether you're preparing a market analysis or just balancing your household budget. The fact that plenty of web technologies exist to accomplish charting (SVG, round trip images, Flash, Java, etc.) only makes it stick out that much more. Now the API might allow external coders to help in this area, but so far I'm still not impressed.
  • by biendamon (723952) on Friday October 13, 2006 @05:43PM (#16430655)
    As I mentioned on an earlier Google Office thread, the word processor doesn't permit the kind of page formatting options that are an absolute necessity for a professional writer. Specifically, you can't define front-page headers, subsequent headers, or 8.5x11 inch page sizes with 1 inch margins.

    Without those features, it's still OK, but no writer will use it as their word processor of choice.
  • Re:api (Score:5, Informative)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <<akaimbatman> <at> <gmail.com>> on Friday October 13, 2006 @05:45PM (#16430691) Homepage Journal
    what the heck is an api for the non-nerds out there?


    Application Programmer Interface [wikipedia.org]

    Basically, a programatic way of accessing the functionality of Google's software.
  • As I mentioned on an earlier Google Office thread

    (blah blah blah karma whoring blah blah blah)

    As people have been mentioning off and on since this thing was announced, it's not for everyone, and it never will be. Even after all the features everyone wants have been implemented it'll still store your data someplace else.

  • by Onan (25162) on Friday October 13, 2006 @06:10PM (#16431009)
    Your phrasing suggests that Google does currently sell advertisers access to gmail content. That's not the case; you may wish to be more clear about your accusations.

  • by zcsteele (924719) <zcsteele@noSPAm.gmail.com> on Friday October 13, 2006 @07:21PM (#16431739)
    There is an export feature. I'm not sure if it's new, but I just tried it out (Google Spreasheet -> OpenOffice *.ods) and it works fine.
  • by SimplexO (537908) on Friday October 13, 2006 @08:53PM (#16432571) Homepage
    Let's take a look at that list from someone who uses the Spreadsheet app daily (personal finances):

    1. Formulas are edited in the cell rather than having a text field on top. This is REALLY annoying to anyone who uses a spreadsheet program regularly. There is an uneditable text field at the top (doesn't work right in Mozilla 1.7.12), but it's not useful for anything other than ogleing at.

    Let's not mock Google for trying something different. Because they use "ribbons," that bar up top is only visible when the formatting ribon is selected. I know that you've got Excel muscle memory and you want to go up to that function bar, but why should you have to click on a cell and then click up on the formatting bar when you can just edit by double clicking a cell and staying there. Open your mind and try something different. It might be better.

    2. Auto-resizing by double-clicking doesn't work. This is a core feature that I should think that everyone uses.

    You're right, double-clicking a column header's edge doesn't auto resize, but since cells auto word wrap based on their contents, you can just resize a column until rows no longer wrap. This feature should be added -- it would be nice. It should also be easier to grab the column header's edge.

    3. No size indicator when changing cell sizes.

    This is a nice luxury feature I'd like to have (when resizing similar sheets to have the same column widths). Regardless, I don't really NEED it to do my work. That's just me though.

    4. You're limited to 100 x T cells. If you're one of those people with a lot of data, good luck. It doesn't look like Google will let you store it without manually inserting enough rows or columns to hold it all.

    If you highlight all the rows and then go to insert, you'll see that you can insert however many rows you have selected. For instance, if you select 100 rows, you'll get an option to add 100 rows up or 100 rows down. You can also right click on the row headers to get this option. Works the same for columns, too.

    5. The formatting menu is useless. It's got a few data types, and that is IT. If you need a custom style, or a date in one of the billion other formats, you're SOL.

    You're not SOL, but you do have to do some work: You need to use the TEXT() function. Check this out [google.com] to see what you can do with that function.

    6. No cell borders. Raise your hand if you tend to mark headers with a cell border. (/Me raises hand.)

    It's simple, but it works. Frustratingly, it seems that the common solution to most problems are to download, and open it in excel then update online. Maybe that'll change as the project matures.

    7. The "Freeze Rows" command makes no sense. Why are you choosing the number of rows from a menu, when a multiple row-select exists?

    I don't know if you don't understand what it's supposed to be doing, but it emulates the pane feature in excel, where you can keep one or more header rows frozen as you scroll down. This works well for my financial stuff that I do. It'd be nice if they had the first couple of columns freezable too.

    There are some downpoints, noticably the speed, especially when you've got lots of data and you do lots of calculations on it, or when slashdot covers it on the front page. When typing things, they stay up on the page while the server gets updated and that works for random text being added, but if the data you are changing changes other data, you'll have to wait for the server to catch up. Like I said, the column dividers could be easier to select. And the autofill feature could be smarter. That really hurts my productivity.

    In excel, you could have two cells with values of 2 and 4 and then autofill the next couple of cells and you'd get 6 and 8. In Google, you'll get 3 and 5, then 4 and 6, and so on.

    Tho
  • by sydneyfong (410107) on Friday October 13, 2006 @10:47PM (#16433115) Homepage Journal
    EditGrid Sync [editgrid.com]

    (Plug: I wrote that...)

    At the moment it's more like a backup tool than a fully operational sync tool (it doesn't automatically upload locally modified files). But it's open source, so if you find it somewhat useful but not powerful enough, feel free to check out the code and change things.

    And it runs Linux too. (wxPython)

Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some damn fool discovers something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.

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