I’ve been playing around with Google’s new spreadsheet webapp. My default browser continues to be Camino, which coped with the empty Google Spreadsheets interface, but crashed once I tried to use a medium-size table o’ figures.
But Firefox worked OK - indeed, the whole thing looked much better, much smarter and clearer, in Firefox.
So what did I make of the service? Most of the basic spreadsheet functions are there, but to me it feels not quite as exciting as some of Google’s other webapp products.
Why? Because Gmail and Writely feel like software built for the web, while Google Spreadsheets (they need a shorter name for it, don’t they?) feels like a desktop app that’s been squeezed into a browser window. It’s not the same.
The controls are jumbled around the top of your browser window. The File menu goes right at the top. Format stuff gets a tab of controls of its own. Cut, Copy and Paste are pulled out from everything else and stuck over on the right side. Sure, it’s all perfectly usable, but it lacks the polish, the degree of forethought that’s been put into Gmail, Writely and other products.
It was also slow, at least on my machine. Another great aspect of Gmail is that in many circumstances, it’s just as fast, if not faster, than using a desktop mail client. In my (albeit brief) experience so far, Google Spreadsheets can’t make the same claim.
Still, you have to admire Google for so much. This is another product of its Labs, another piece in the much-rumored Google Office jigsaw, another means for people to do useful cool stuff in their web browser without having to spend a lot of money on software. As it improves, it will doubtless become an invaluable tool for a lot of people.