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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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  • api (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 13, 2006 @04:39PM (#16430611)
    what the heck is an api for the non-nerds out there?
  • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Friday October 13, 2006 @04:46PM (#16430695) Homepage
    It'd be nice if someone could make something that will sync your Google documents into a folder on your hard drive, maybe in .odt and ods format? It seems like the first thing I'd want from Google Docs&Spreadsheet.
  • The API I want is (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LeDopore (898286) on Friday October 13, 2006 @05:04PM (#16430947) Homepage Journal
    direct hooks between Google Office and my word processor of choice. As soon as Google Office respects .odt enough so that it can keep track of all changes people make (even if the web interface isn't yet able to let you use all of .odt), you should be able to get the collaborative benefits of Google Office along with all the benefits of having a local office app.

    Think: all open standard word procesors could instantly have the best collaboration system on the planet (i.e. real time co-editing, with backups and rollbacks possible) with minimal coding effort.
  • by X43B (577258) on Friday October 13, 2006 @05:20PM (#16431121) Journal
    "Eating their own dogfood: Rochelle said that "Everybody in [Google] is using the tool" already."

    I'm just an aerospace engineer and not a programmer/scientist....but I thought Google hired the best of the best brightest minds in the country. True I use Matlab for most analysis and Fortran and C for most simulations, but when I want to "play" with a snippet of data a bit and do some simple plots, Excel kicks butt. I feel sorry for them if all those PhDs can't even graph with their spreadsheets anymore. I can understand them not wanting to pay Microsoft but geeze, at least throw them oocalc.
  • by LaRoach (968977) on Friday October 13, 2006 @05:31PM (#16431247)
    ...getting sick of the term "mashup"?
  • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Friday October 13, 2006 @05:56PM (#16431493) Homepage

    think you wouldn't see a story about a no-name application for various reasons. First, mass audiences might be hesitant to upload files to random companies they aren't familiar with and don't trust. For better or worse, people do trust Google well enough.

    I know my big concern with no-named companies making web apps is that, even if they're kind of cool, little companies trying something innovative often fizzle out. You spend some time uploading your documents and playing with things. You tell people that they can access your documents there. Next thing you know, right when you're coming to depend on it-- the site is gone. Or sometimes you might think, "This has potential, but they still need to work on it," but the company doesn't really have the money to work on it.

    So I think that's part of the reason why this is getting hype: people expect that Google will make it work. Google isn't running out of money anytime soon, and they aren't going out of business. These apps are pretty snappy, and we all know that Google has the servers and bandwidth to run it, so there isn't a big fear of things being overloaded.

    I'm not a huge fan of this stuff. Word processors and spreadsheets in web browsers? I take my laptop with me most everywhere, and I'd rather work locally. Still, maybe if Google works on it and other people can find clever things to do with the API, maybe there will be some use for it. I guess it'd be nice to send a simple spreadsheet to someone, and trust that they'll be able to view it with only a web browser, so it's not all useless. But I think the real thing is the promise that Google will figure out how to make it work.

  • by Onan (25162) on Friday October 13, 2006 @06:48PM (#16432035)

    How do you know? You seem to be under the impression that you have total control over what you store in Gmail.

    Well, among other things, I work at Google. And everything about Google's culture of data-handling is that privacy is taken very seriously, even internally. Even as an employee here, I couldn't just go and read your gmail (or search logs, or writely docs, or anything else) myself; I don't have access to it, and would need to make a very strong case for a legitimate need in order to get access to it. Selling it to an outside party would be completely antithetical to the entire way I've seen the company behave.

    But let's focus on the "among other things", so you don't have to take my word for it. I think that even if you assume Google to be evil, the logistics of them being malicious here wouldn't really work out.

    It's pretty hard to both 1) try to sell a product to outside entities and 2) keep the availability of that product secret. How exactly would Google go about offering your data up for sale without disclosing that it's doing so? And if such deals were somehow arranged, for how long exactly do you think that every advertiser would keep it secret? As with most conspiracy theories, I think this just involves too many moving parts to really be stable.

    And even if we assume that Google has both the willingness and the means to make such sales in secret, I don't really see the motive for doing so. Why would advertisers want your email? To extract relevant information to run ads against it... the way that Google already does for them, to the best of their considerable ability, without any human eyes being involved? And why would Google risk the damage to their reputation associated with doing this? They're not exactly hurting for above-board income, you know.

    I'm fairly paranoid about the privacy of my own data, so I can see why you'd have hesitation about handing yours over to anyone else. But I don't think that the particular threat being described is especially realistic.

    (If it wasn't obvious, I'm not speaking for Google in any official capacity, I'm just talking about how their culture looks from the inside. The "do no evil" thing is not just marketing schtick, it really is something that people talk about and take seriously all the time.)

  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Friday October 13, 2006 @06:53PM (#16432085)
    Sell me the platform, not the service.


    While I wouldn't be surprised if Google eventually sells the platform, at substantial cost, for enterprise clients, right now they aren't selling you anything, their offering to give you the service.
  • by AxelBoldt (1490) on Saturday October 14, 2006 @01:14AM (#16434071) Homepage
    Last time I checked, you could set up your Google spreadsheets for collaboration, but there was no version control, no way to find out who changed what when, and to revert changes. Has that since been added? Without it, I find collaboration impossible.

"If that makes any sense to you, you have a big problem." -- C. Durance, Computer Science 234

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