Google Spreadsheets – Unexpected Surprises

March 2, 2007

Well, I’ve been skeptical about what Google is trying to do. I love Gmail but I’ve held off really trying out their other products. But recently I was running a beta of Excel 2007 and it expired so I was left without a spreadsheet program. I decided to give Google spreadsheets a try.

At first I got what I expected – much of Excel’s basic functionality while feeling a little less responsive than a desktop app. I mean, for a web app they’ve done a remarkably good job, but it’s still not the same as a rich desktop application. But then I discovered two excellent features that I didn’t expect.

The first came after I had been working on a spreadsheet for a while and realized that I had it so screwed up I wanted to go back to the beginning. I was just about to close and re-open the spreadsheet when I noticed the “Revisions” tab at the top. I clicked on this and – hey what do you know – just about every change I made was automatically saved as a revision. I flipped through the revisions, found the place I wanted, and overwrote my f’d up version with a clean version. Now that’s something you don’t get in Excel.

The next thing that happened (which prompted me to write this blog post) is that I was making a change when all of a sudden I lost my internet connection (damn netgear wireless crap). Now I’m thinking “ugh – lots of rework” but all of a sudden Google pops up a little box that says “uh hey – you don’t have connection. you want to work offline or try and reconnect?”. Wow – ok, let’s see how this works. I reboot my router, get my connection back, click the “try and reconnect” option, and I’m back and running. No lost data – nothing. Everything is exactly as if I had never lost connection in the first place. Now that’s slick!

So I’m not sure if I’m completely sold on giving up Excel but I have to say that if Google keeps going the way they are going with innovative features and solid design, I might just be tempted.

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One Response to “Google Spreadsheets – Unexpected Surprises”

  1. Pete Says:

    If you’re looking for an alternative to Excel (or MS Office, in general) try http://www.openoffice.org/ Their office suite is completely free.


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