Google Spreadsheet Preview

Got an invitation to Google Spreadsheet this morning, so I quickly logged in, played around, and do up a quick spreadsheet. Here's a screenshot:

Aussie Tax Calculator in Google Spreadsheet
Aussie personal tax calculator in Google Spreadsheet

Yeah it is a very simple spreadsheet that calculates how much you need to pay the government from your annual taxable income. It has both rates for 2005-2006 and 2006+, and calculates how much Costello saves you each month from his last federal budget.

Functionality wise Google Spreadsheet is quite limited. No charting. Limited formatting. It does have quite a number of functions implemented, but no where close to other desktop counterparts have to offer. If you are working in finance sector, Google Spreadsheet is probably not something for you. Actually, if you are in finance/accounting, I cannot see anything that can challenge Excel at the moment.

Speed wise it is terrible. Moving between cells, waiting for them to calculate, etc -- you can definitely feel the lag imposed by the web based application. It fires up slower than Excel, and it even shuts down slower than Excel -- my Firefox literally hangs for a few seconds when the spreadsheet tries to clean up itself.

And why there isn't options to save/load Open Document Format? I thought Google and Sun had a partnership on OpenOffice.org?

So, what is "good" about Google Spreadsheet?

  • It is on-line! It is Web 2.0! All you need is a decent browser to access all your spreadsheets stored on Google's database. Look at all those cool Ajax and DHTML effects that try to emulate desktop applications! Oh wait, I have already had that desktop application and it is even free.
  • Sharing. You can grant edit or view permissions to other users, and you can even see other people editing. This is a much useful feature -- if Google Spreadsheet is not that slow.

I actually like the idea that you can basically share your Google-data with others. Earlier this year I have been thinking of building a multi-user church administration app for the growing ministry here. We now can do almost everything with Google branded products. Calendar? Got it. Roster? Maybe not here (lack sharing options), but maybe here? Or even as rows on a Google Spreadsheet (most fellowship rosters I have seen are on spreadsheets anyway).

All our base are belong to ... Google?

Update: Yet another "All your base are belong to Google" announcement -- Google Browser Sync! Yes. When Google says "All", that includes your Firefox bookmarks as well. That's right. Now handle over your bookmarks.html. C'mon!