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Forbes Reviews AJAX Apps for Small Businesses 62

prostoalex writes "Forbes magazine evaluates the variety of AJAX-powered Internet-based applications and their suitability for small businesses. The office suite replacements Forbes magazine chose are Google-centric: Google Calendar, Spreadsheets, Notebook and Gmail are the winners of their respective categories. Pageflakes and YouOS are tied for the leader's spot in 'Webtops' category."
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Forbes Reviews AJAX Apps for Small Businesses

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  • Thanks, Forbes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by generic-man ( 33649 ) on Friday September 08, 2006 @03:29PM (#16068387) Homepage Journal
    "But don't throw away your desktop applications just yet. As a general rule, Ajax sites simply aren't as powerful or as useful as their desktop counterparts. Spreadsheet jockeys, for example, will want to stick with Excel for the foreseeable future."

    I also enjoy how many of the "recommended" apps are only available for use on outside servers, so no company-confidential data should ever be placed on them.
    • Re:Thanks, Forbes (Score:4, Informative)

      by nursegirl ( 914509 ) on Friday September 08, 2006 @03:53PM (#16068557) Journal
      Forbes looked at such a small number of Ajax apps and put them into arbitrary categories. Google Notebook vs Backpack is apples and oranges. Yes, they're both ways of storing "stuff" perhaps even "information." But, the type of information stored in Google Notebook (collect information and quotes from around the www and then save them with citations), is very different than the information stored in Backpack (ToDo lists, Calendar, SMS/Email reminders).

      Why don't I write an article comparing my day planner with my filing cabinet, while we're at it?
    • Re:Thanks, Forbes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by XorNand ( 517466 ) * on Friday September 08, 2006 @04:23PM (#16068767)
      To the IT-inclined, yeah, hosting data vital your business on someone's server can make you cringe. However, to 99% of the small businesses out there, they think nothing of it. All you have to do is look to the success of to see that. Or even more common: How many small businesses use IMAP (either through a client or a webmail interface)? If their webhost suddenly closed their doors, they could potentially lose years of critical correspondence.

      As an IT guy myself, I stuggle to explain this sort of stuff to small business owners. But them again, these are the same people who balk at the cost of DAT or DLT drive yet wouldn't even consider canceling their business owner's insurance policy. Go figure.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CastrTroy ( 595695 )
        The difference is, is that you're paying, and there's probably some kind of confidentiality agreement that goes along with it. The free services on the other hand seem to have lots of issues that I wouldn't want to get involved with.
      • Because, other than IT people, businessmen believe tha "IT Doesn't Matter". The destructive influence of offshore outsourcing combined with the dotcom bust has reduced the influence of IT and IT ideas to noise. Consequently businessmen treat IT as noise.

        Maybe businessmen are correct - perhaps IT is no longer important. Will that remain so? My suspicion is "yes".

        If not, then when will IT recover?

      • Personally I cant think of a better place to store our CRM data than

        Think about it, how manay security specialists do I have on staff securing my data? (less than 0 so I'm sure SF has more).

        How many staff do I have making sure our network is up and accessible (1 but I'm sure SF has more).

        As for what happens if they shut their doors, well thats an educated risk I'm prepared to take.

    • Re:Thanks, Forbes (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jrockway ( 229604 ) * <> on Friday September 08, 2006 @04:45PM (#16068913) Homepage Journal
      Also, they forgot about EditGrid [], which is based on Gnumeric and web-ified with Catalyst [].
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by kolme ( 981304 )
      Not to say... AJAX is an overhyped new name for JavaScript. Do you wanna know AJAX? Well, this is it:

      xmlHttp = new XMLHttpRequest();

      Those are the four lines you need to know to do AJAX. It's nothing more that JavaScript. If you already know HTML, JavaScript and CSS, you can show off your AJAX leet skills.

      If you think JavaScript is going to replace C/C++/
      • The best part about AJAX and the hype is that MS "invented" it or at least was the first to have support for it way back in 1999; but it wasn't until 5 years later that somebody came up with a fancy name for it and google started using it that the real hype began.
  • 1. Noone can "win" because the true beauty of web applications is you have most all the code on the client side, for anyone to copy freely. So this is really a matter of who has a new feature this week, that everyone else will also have next week. That's why it rocks.

    2. Security, as in none of, nuff said.

    • by jpardey ( 569633 )
      Yeah, the client side scripts, encrypted, and useless without the proper server and database, all under copyright, are on the user's computer. Not at all like a self reliant program. Decompilers never get anything right, and cloning features without source code? Impossible.

      But yeah, security is a bit of a problem.
  • Zimbra or Roundcube? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    What, no mention of Zimbra or Roundcube (although that's beta)? At least those can be run locally.
  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Friday September 08, 2006 @03:49PM (#16068530)
    Unless I can host the application on my internal server, it makes no sense to store data on external servers that I have no control over. Besides, if I'm going to cook the books, I want a search warrant for my place instead of a warrant telling the application provider to hand over the data.
    • "... instead of a warrant telling the application provider to hand over the data"

      Warrant? No, must likely a subpoena would do.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Warrant... subpoena... whatever! I'm too busy cooking the books to hire an attorney to tell me the difference. :P
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CastrTroy ( 595695 )
      On the other hand, a lot of businesses like to look at the bottom line. If using exchange server costs you $5000 for server and server software, plus $50,000 a year for a sysadmin, plus $100 a seat for outlook, then the offsite, no admin, no server, no software $50 per seat solution starts to look really nice. It starts to look even nicer if it's $0 per seat.
    • by EsJay ( 879629 )
      No reason Ajax apps couldn't be hosted locally. For example, imagine Google selling something like the The Google Search Appliance [] to host Google applications on an intranet.
  • I wonder why (Score:2, Informative)

    by ClaraBow ( 212734 )
    ThinkFree Office wasn't even mentioned?
  • by Falesh ( 1000255 ) on Friday September 08, 2006 @04:09PM (#16068662) Homepage
    Is why OpenOffice [] is rarely mentioned when talking about free alternatives to MS Office. OpenOffice if free to download and I have never found it wanting when compared with MS Office. Is it just not "cool" enough when compared to snazzy AJAX apps?
    • by n4t3 ( 266019 )
      I have been attempting to use Open Office (since Star Office days) for years, and though I would love to grasp every opportunity to bash M$, I have to admit that printing envelopes in OO recently was a massive letdown. We could never get the thing to print on the envelope in a consistent manner (even after figuring out how to print the correct direction which took a while). The text would never print in the same place on the envelope twice in a row! Other than that though, OO has been an exceedingly well
  • I don't know who ripped off who, but both sites seem to be the same thing....
  • pageflakes ==
  • by cwgmpls ( 853876 ) on Friday September 08, 2006 @04:31PM (#16068810) Journal

    The MS Office app that is in dire need of replacement, and the app that seems most obvious to run on the web is PowerPoint. Why not build your presentation on the web and instantly share it will all of your participants, rather than having to jump through PowerPoint's terrible web publishing procedures?

    So why doesn't the article mention presentation tools, and why have none of the big players (Google, Yahoo!) put out a web2.0 presentation application yet?

    I know there are a many options out there -- Zoho Show, Thumbstack, S5, Empressr, Wimpypoint, PmWiki SlideShow, TiddlyWiki SlideShow, Slidy, OperaShow, TeamSlide, Carbonmade.

    I don't have the time to compare them and sort them all out. Where is the big article reviewing and comparing these badly-needed tools? And why aren't the big web guys giving this essential application any attention?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Poster has stated Powerpoint is an "essential application." The Slashdot core has been breached. Make for the exits. The marketing droids have entered the premises! We're DOOMED.
    • by Gorimek ( 61128 )
      That was actually done quite well by a San Francisco startup called iAmaze [] back in 1999. They got acquired by Netscape/AOL and the product was never heard from again...
  • Google (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SteveTheRed ( 244567 )
    I don't usually wear a tin-foil hat and I believe that most conspiracy theories are bullshit. That being said, does anyone else wonder what would happen if Google, as a publicly traded company, decided to set aside their "Don't be evil" values? The primary fiduciary duty of the leaders of a company are not to be "not evil", they are to create wealth for the shareholders. Right now it is to Google's advantage to be good just as it is to ExxonMobil's advantage to be bad, because both actions are creating w
    • I agree with you, but I think their "Don't be evil" mantra is working and will continue to work. When they provide everything they make for free, it attracts users. The more users they have, the more people they have to click on AdWords ads. They're doing exactly what they need to be doing to keep users.. besides good search results of course.
  • Please tell me "Webtop" isn't a word now. I've almost gotten to the point where I can hear "Webinar" without audibly gagging.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by cheezit ( 133765 )
      Well, it was repeated at least 5 times in that yes, it is automatically now a word. Luckily, you quickly moved it straight to the sneered-at so-stoopid category with your post. It should be completely gone in 2 hours or so.
  • What the hell would Forbes know about AJAX. I've not RTFA but would not be the least surprised if they confused it with a cleaning powder.
  • by Javaman59 ( 524434 )
    OK, I've had a look at some of these Google web apps, and they look great, and probably will, in short time, meet the claim of doing what most users need most of the time.

    Hwever, every place I've ever worked in has used some feature of MS Office, or the MS Windows OS, which isn't likely to see it's way into Web 2.0 for a long time. eg. large documents, with multiple views (outline, page layout, etc...), databases with pivot tables, a COM based plugin, a Windows only accounting package. However, I work in
  • The Google Calendar doesn't let you embed your event calendar in your own website. I like the WebPasties Calendar [] better because I can embed it in my own website and use colors for the calendar that complement my site's color scheme.
  • Forbes is the lowest of the low. Like everybody else, they pick something that's "hot" and write articles about it, but unlike everybody else they do not consider expertise to be an important part of their job.

    A friend of mine from college called me around 2002 and asked me what Linux was because Forbes' tech section writers were supposed to mention Linux in their articles if at all possible.

    Now AJAX is hot, and they need to tell their idiotic PHB readers about the "hot" new thing without rocking the boat t
  • I just opened both Ajax desktop things in the summary, and Firefox not only took over all my RAM, it actually connected to Best Buy and used my Visa number to order another two sticks of Corsair.
  • Their "tops" -- PageFlakes and YouOS -- are just like any other portal site. I can understand the appeal of replacing desktop apps, to a point, but I really, really don't see the point of replacing functionality that's already there in a web browser.
  • No mention of @Mail [] which offers Ajax email, and is a download product rather then online service like the ones listed in the Forbes article. I think the Forbes article is pretty light/fluffy, but it is for their target audience anyway ....
  • there is a need for a distributed information system/operating environment.

    All the solutions so far are ineffective solutions to the same problem:

    -terminal services
    -remote login
    -the X-window system

    I wonder when the big companies will realize this; it is a gold mine, and whoever gets there first will have the others cornered.

The rich get rich, and the poor get poorer. The haves get more, the have-nots die.