Wednesday, January 25th 2006 | Ismael Ghalimi
In defining the Office 2.0 setup I am using, the following rules are applied:
No client application other than a web browser
This is the essence of Office 2.0: one should be able to perform most office productivity tasks without having to use any client application other than a web browser. That means no email client, no word processor, no spreadsheet, no presentation tool. Nothing but a web browser. Of course, special needs create exceptions to this rule. For example, I am still using iTunes to listen to my music and Adobe Photoshop to work on pictures, but other than that, all my productivity applications are online now.
No files on personal computer
Once all your applications are online, it makes sense to leave your files there too. I am using a combination of services to manage the different types of files I consume and produce, as described in this past article. The ‘Documents’ folder on my personal hard drive has been empty for the past three weeks and I do not expect this to change anytime soon.
Compatibility with the most popular web browsers
Because I want to be able to do my work using virtually any personal computer I can get access to, the services I use have to work with the most popular web browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari. Opera is a nice-to-have, but I do not make it a requirement. Also, I assume that the personal computers I use have been properly upgraded with the last versions of the different pieces of software they host, therefore I do not require support for older versions of web browsers. And who cares about Internet Explorer 4.0 anyway?
No browser extension or plugin
For reasons explained in a previous article, browser extensions and other plugins should be avoided at all cost. If two services offer the same functionality, but one requires an extension and the other does not, I will always go for the later one, even if that means that I have to lose a couple of features along the way.
Collaboration features are good
Part of the value of storing your data online is that it enables collaboration with other people, as described in this article. For that reason, services that support document sharing and publishing will always get my preference over services that keep data to myself only, as long as they do it in a secure manner. In that respect, support for both public and private bookmarks was one of the primary reasons why I upgraded from del.icio.us to Simpy.
Syndication is the way to go
Beyond peer-to-peer collaboration, syndication opens the door to social cooperation. This really is the essence of Web 2.0, and Office 2.0 should benefit from it as much as possible. Syndication also provides the mechanisms that are required for integrating multiple services with each other, as described in this recent article. As a result, services that offer RSS feeds and REST APIs always get my vote over ones that do not. Hint to LinkedIn: this is where I believe the most significant improvements could be made to your exceptional service.
AJAX is better
Competition brings alternatives
When your applications are installed on your personal computer, you’re pretty much in charge of your own destiny, that is until you lose the previously mentioned computer. But when all your applications are served by online service providers, they better keep serving it without too much disruption, or you’re at risk of losing the productivity gains that you managed to achieve by going online. For this reason, I never use any service for which there is no good-enough alternative offered by some competitor. If Salesforce.com goes out of business, I could always switch to NetSuite. If Google becomes evil, I can move from Gmail to Yahoo! Mail. In the past two months, I have migrated from TypePad to WordPress and from del.icio.us to Simpy, and in both instances, migration was a relatively easy process, even though TypePad’s lack of RSS syndication for comments made it harder than it should have been.
Data import/export is mandatory
Migrating from one service to an other is possible only if all data can be exported from the first and imported into the second. This is why I never use any service where I cannot get data in and out easily. One problem I faced with this rule was related to Gmail and the fact that one cannot export email archives out of it, but I found a way to work around this limitation by automatically forwarding all incoming emails to a separate email account managed by Yahoo! Mail, as described in this article. Similarly, the .csv export feature offered by LinkedIn does not include unique user IDs, therefore manual synchronization with contacts stored into Salesforce.com is required, and that’s a total waste of time. Hopefully, the good LinkedIn folks will get the hint and add this little field into their .csv export. Patience is the mother of all virtues!
Entry filed under: Office 2.0