Online Office Suites

Web-based offices suites are emerging in addition to the traditional desktop office suites and their respective file formats. Prominent examples of such applications include the Zoho Office Suite ( and Google Docs and Spreadsheets ( There are others, of course. You can see a list of online spreadsheets, for instance, here:

I will focus on using a programmable online spreadsheet, specifically Google Spreadsheets, in this section. Google Spreadsheets has an API (which we will use in a mashup later in the chapter):

Usage Scenarios for Programmable Online Spreadsheets

What might one want to do with an online spreadsheet? Here are a few examples I brainstormed:

  • Tracking one’s weight, finances, or time and sharing that information with your family and friends—or not.

  • Having bots calculate data that they put into your spreadsheets that you can then analyze. For instance, if you wanted to track your stock portfolio, you could use the StrikeIron ­fee-­based ­real-­time stock quote service to calculate the value of your portfolio. (You might think twice before storing that portfolio information online, but this is feasible in principle.)

  • Build an application to track and disseminate grades.

  • Manage a wedding database.

  • Build a project management tool that you can update and read with the API.

  • Back up a list of your bookmarks in a spreadsheet form.

  • Track your library books.

  • Build online charts (see

There are many other applications. Consider StrikeIron SOA Express for Excel (http://?www. as a source of hints about what people might do with the Google Spreadsheets API; that is, start to think of Google Spreadsheets as Excel in the cloud, but account for its lack of some of Excel’s current internal extensibility such as macros. (There is no equivalent to Google Mapplets for the spreadsheets or VBA macros—yet.)

The application I will demonstrate in detail is copying my wishlist and prices to a spreadsheet to more easily take that information with me (say to a ­real-­life bookstore or library).