free online service (with limited functionality or ad-supported) or an
open source equivalent that I could easily plug on top of a LAMP stack.
Pretty quickly I had about 5 candidates lined up, and the evaluation
able to complete a relatively simple set of tasks would not be met.
This need for simplicity in software – espoused with almost religious
fervour by design houses like 37Signals – DOES make huge sense to any
user that has a day in-day out work process which currently resides in
a) their head b) on a post-it note stuck to the bottom of their coffee
cup or c) in <generic> desktop productivity suite – but which they wish
could be solved in a simple application.
later I gave up; the solutions were too complex; Even with some of the
configuration potential offered by the open source options, the effort
involved was not worth the effort involved. I needed to reconsider my
that I swore must not use a spreadsheet.
Then last night, I listened to some of the recently described "crazy uncles" over on the Gillmor Gang – an old podcast from
february 2007, with Dan Bricklin* the creator of the first spreadsheet – Visicalc.
This seminal moment for the PC was chronicled nicely in Cringelys book
The more I listened to him in this podcast (the conversation about
spreadsheets starts about 30 mins in) the more it realised the view
that the spreadsheet, along with email, is a fundamental tool that any
office worker must use; terms like "swiss army knife" and "multi
purpose tool" were used.
Even better was his comment on the fact that
probably any office worker can use a spreadsheet, but what about any
office worker editing a web page; I gather this is a key argument for
WikiCalc – empower appropriate web publication though the tools that
the office masses are familiar with.
*Dan Bricklin is not a crazy uncle.
[Update] : There is another Cringely interview with Bricklin at NerdTV – though audio quality is really poor.