×

Announcing: Slashdot Deals - Explore geek apps, games, gadgets and more. (what is this?)

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!

In-Depth ajaxWrite Review

samzenpus posted more than 8 years ago | from the web-words dept.

112

mikemuch writes "ajaxWrite is the first offspring of ajax13, Michael Robertson's (of Lindows and SIPphone fame) latest startup that aims to deliver a brave new line of web-delivered, AJAX-based apps. ExtremeTech today has an in-depth review of just how apt a replacement ajaxWrite is for the big installed word processors. It's a neat idea, but let's just say the web-based word processor has some catching up to do."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Interesting (3, Interesting)

Iron (III) Chloride (922186) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089315)

I find these new AJAX applications to be very interesting. While I don't think they can overcome the market share of MS Office in the near future, they're very portable on that library computer without a word processor installed.

Re:Interesting (4, Informative)

mikemuch (870535) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089336)

In truth, though, there are better lightweight solutions, like Zoho writer: http://www.zohowriter.com/ [zohowriter.com] and ThinkFree Office: http://www.thinkfree.com/ [thinkfree.com]

Re:Interesting (1)

Iron (III) Chloride (922186) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089343)

I haven't tried ThinkFree Office, but I have tried Zoho and I agree. However, this new online "concept," rather than any individual application, is what mainly is interesting.

Re:Interesting (1)

fishdan (569872) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089447)

I concider writely [writely.com] the cream of the crop -- which is probably why Google snatched them up.

Re:Interesting (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 8 years ago | (#15090082)

Given that I can use ajaxWrite without signing up to an exclusive (now closed) "social" club, I'd have to disagree.

Re:Interesting (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089362)

I find these new AJAX applications to be very interesting. While I don't think they can overcome the market share of MS Office in the near future, they're very portable on that library computer without a word processor installed.

About ten years ago: "I find these new Java applications, or `applets', to be very interesting."

Didn't we already go down this road and decide that it sucked?

Re:Interesting (5, Informative)

LO0G (606364) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089578)

Except, of course this isn't an AJAX application. It's an XUL application, which has nothing to do with ajax.

Sort-of like the relationship between "javascript" and "java", only more tenuous (at least both of those were programming languages).
 

Re:Interesting (2, Interesting)

smallfries (601545) | more than 8 years ago | (#15090427)

You've hit the nail on the head when you say application*s*. Given that this article is a dupe, and we all bashed ajaxWrite last time it was up, I'm suprised that nobodies mentioned the other apps. This guys plan was to realise a new app every week. So far he's got a sketch program, and a something for videoediting. The sketch program (like the ajaxWrite) is exactly the kind of simple programing assignment that you would get somebody to do to learn a new language. Its not drowning in features, although of course he compares it to Inkscape. I didn't look at the videoediting as thats not really my thing.

One amusing thing about his hype machine is that he has a claim that the idea for the word processor came from another guy, and that he injected $50000 as VC to get it off the ground. Odd thing is three weeks ago he made that claim about the word processor. It seems that this claim shifts through the applications as they are written. That is some impressive use of 200,000 quarters on a piece of string trick.

Can they possibly fit more ads on that page? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15089326)

Nothing better than 4 paragraphs per page loaded with 4 different advertisements. The ads actually consume more real estate than the article did.

Re:Can they possibly fit more ads on that page? (0, Offtopic)

mnemonic_ (164550) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089479)

IT'S YOUR FAULT.

Said it before, and I'll say it again (5, Interesting)

WedgeTalon (823522) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089335)

I said this back when /. ran the first story about ajaxWrite, and I'll say it now - ajaxWrite isn't near OO.o's or Abiword's league; its competition is Wordpad... and Wordpad is winning. This article is just reaffirming what was so plain to see when looking at the app for 5 minutes.

Re:Said it before, and I'll say it again (1)

mikemuch (870535) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089480)

True, but Abiword is a 5MB download that some internet cafe you go to in a pinch might not let you install.

Re:Said it before, and I'll say it again (2, Informative)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089816)

Sure, but Wordpad comes by default.

Re:Said it before, and I'll say it again (1)

Adam9 (93947) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089944)

Wordpad doesn't open ODTs, Ajaxwrite does.

Re:Said it before, and I'll say it again (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 8 years ago | (#15090056)

It loads DOCs and RTFs. All open source feel-good vibe aside, what is more likely to be needed, DOC, or ODT?

Wordpad (1)

loudmax (243935) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089591)

The thing is, Wordpad might be good enough for a lot of people. It isn't just about being able to do away with a piece of software on your desktop: what makes this interesting is the potential for several people to collaborate on a single document. As an interface for a word processor it isn't much, but as an interface for a comments forum (like this one) or a wiki, it's pretty slick. I don't know ajaxWrite has much potential as a business model, but as a proof-of-concept for future web interfaces, it's quite promising.

Re:Said it before, and I'll say it again (2, Interesting)

b17bmbr (608864) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089851)

its competition is Wordpad... and Wordpad is winning. This article is just reaffirming what was so plain to see when looking at the app for 5 minutes.

I went to the site and played with it for 5 minutes. Nothing special. But what realy is a word procesor anyways. We confuse page layout with word processing. You want tables, graphs, pictures, mail merge, fine, but is theally a WP? For the features presented, I found them rather impressive. Okay, I use vim for most my coding. I have been using Pages for about a year now, and it is really slick. I of course use 1/10th of what it does. I like it's simplicity and apple's print to pdf more than anything. I think you're missig the point.

Could I do my fly fishing club's newsletter on it? No. Could I have done my Master's thesis on it? Yes. That's the difference.

Re:Said it before, and I'll say it again (1)

b17bmbr (608864) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089867)

OMG, I need a spell checker. Holy crap.

Re:Said it before, and I'll say it again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15090232)

Could I have done my Master's thesis on it? Yes.

Except.. who in their right mind would trust their Master's thesis to an Ajax app?!

Re:Said it before, and I'll say it again (2, Insightful)

b17bmbr (608864) | more than 8 years ago | (#15090795)

I wouldn't. But, what if you deployed something like that on a campus wide server? Or what about countries that have older computers and want to use them in schools. Or perhaps use them in a thin client mode?

I see some really good uses for it actually. I simply used the thesis example not to say I'd trust doing it, but that as for the stylistic needs, it could be done.

Re:Said it before, and I'll say it again (1)

dodobh (65811) | more than 8 years ago | (#15090370)

A word processor provides simplified text processing and page layout capabilities. This makes it bad for both tasks for real use, and popular amongst people who need to do such things occasionally, or as part of other work but don't have the time to learn to do things right.

Re:Said it before, and I'll say it again (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15091650)

A word processor provides simplified text processing and page layout capabilities. This makes it bad for both tasks for real use, and popular amongst people who need to do such things occasionally, or as part of other work but don't have the time to learn to do things right.

Precisely. Just as cars are extremely useful, even though they aren't as tough as tanks and can't carry as many people as a bus.

Word processors are designed primarily for correspondence and business use. They don't do complex page layouts, because you don't need complex page layouts if you're writing a business letter or report. Similarly, word processors aren't very good for editing code or processing multi-gigabyte log files - but who cares? That's not what they're for.

Re:Said it before, and I'll say it again (2, Informative)

PietjeJantje (917584) | more than 8 years ago | (#15090119)

Did you expect it to have the same functionality right away?

I think that is invalid argumentation. You dislike AJAX apps, for some reason (why not state it), and then you use this argument. It seems kinda silly.

Even richest-off-all Microsoft, with their follow-don't-lead attitude, do it in versions. We all know how they do it since Word 1.0, Windows 3.0, Internet Explorer 3.0 (breaking-point versions) and need I go on? Would you like to judge the inherent potential of their next phased product line based on the initial versions limitated functionality, and not beyond? How strange. It is a starting point, man!

I'd say if you use this line of argumentation for New Stuff (tm), you're unfit for the field, and Slashdot. Imagine where we'd be if this cynical approach would have been leading the last decades. For starters we'd still be staring at monochrome monitors because VGA will lead nowhere.

Re:Said it before, and I'll say it again (1)

WedgeTalon (823522) | more than 8 years ago | (#15091403)

Considering the claim to be a MS Word killer, yes, I do expect this functionality right away. How about I claim to have built a Linux that is a sure-fire Windows killer because it natively runs any application from any os... except all it can do right now is boot to a console. The other features are coming later.

Please Just Stop (4, Insightful)

aldheorte (162967) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089356)

Let's just say that writing client-side applications in JavaScript is a really bad idea. Why would anyone choose to write their application this way? It's an attempt to take something that was originally intended for linking together scientific documents, force fitting a layout language on top of it, which is still really beholden to the underlying document structure, then overlaying that with a scripting language, which is to say, various scripting language interpreters (one for every browser) to try and change the layout and the document on the fly.

That's what AJAX is - scientific papers posing as layouts posing as interactive applications. It's bad software practice, a misuse of technology, and an excuse for people to attempt to use limited skills to try to hack a simulated client side application, but one that is fundamentally asynchronous, difficult to debug, never provably functional (what browser are you using?) and just plain, well, bad.

Alright, enough ranting. Mod me down if you want, but when AJAX and "Web 2.0" crashes and burns, you heard it here, well, not first because I'm not the only one to say it, but, well, you heard it, okay? You are, of course, free to do whatever you wish with your time, but please just stop architecting applications like this. I want real applications, not browser-junior app... let... things.

Re:Please Just Stop (2, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089395)

when AJAX and "Web 2.0" crashes and burns, you heard it here, well, not first because I'm not the only one to say it, but, well, you heard it, okay?

Its funny because this was the idea with java all along and it crashed and burned 10 years ago. Of course Java was killed by Microsoft introducing a non-standard implementation on IE. Maybe the will do it again with javascript. OTH maybe Firefox will undercut microsoft and introduce a standard client. Perhaps it is time for people to consider (mostly) firefox specific java apps.

Re:Please Just Stop (2, Interesting)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089746)

Of course Java was killed by Microsoft introducing a non-standard implementation on IE.

Oh, please. You could write a standard Java app for IE if you wanted to. The problem was that Java-in-the-browser SUCKED. It was slow, it was an UNBELIEVABLE memory hog, and the widgets looked absolutely amateurish and awful. In fact, computers are faster, but the widgets STILL look awful (and it's still arguably a memory pig, though the proportion is smaller since we have more memory to throw around).

The other problem was that Java apps tended to be quite big, which made them a bear to download on slow connections. Not as much of a problem these days with broadband, but there are still a lot of modems out there.

There's a reason that Google maps with AJAX is good (instant loading), and a similar thing with Java would be bad.

Re:Please Just Stop (1)

grizzlo (962041) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089417)

I think this is just how evolution works -- for example, humans weren't really designed for upright walking, but here we are, and there isn't much point in complaining about it.

I do agree, though, that it's a bit silly to have all these fancy multi-gigahertz dual-core processors, with gigs of RAM and even more gigs of HD space, and all they do is fire up web browsers. (Also silly is hearing these Web 2.0 people go bonkers when they finally manage to -- almost! as long as you're using Browser X or Y! and you don't mind waiting! -- reinvent UI widgets that have been around for ages in conventional apps.)

But I'm old...

Re:Please Just Stop (3, Funny)

baadger (764884) | more than 8 years ago | (#15090062)

humans weren't really designed for upright walking


Strange, I thought walking upright was one of the things that made us 'human', they didn't call our ancestors homo erectus for nothing...atleast I hope it was the upright walking they were referring too.

Re:Please Just Stop - I agree (1)

Tetravus (79831) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089421)

Javascript is a terrible language to develop this type of stuff with. Would anyone conside using the Yahoo Widget Engine to create a text editing application (oh no, now someone's going to beat me to the VC's for WidgetWord funding)?
AJAX is a hack of a hack... but in this world without standards, innovation must find a way. If anything, the current infatuation with client side scripting should be a great signals to our standards bodies to get off their duffs and work to approve new protocols in a timely fashion.

Re:Please Just Stop - I agree (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15089536)


Mozilla and Firefox are both written with massive amounts of javascript/xul
if its good enough for them.....

XUL (1)

wysiwia (932559) | more than 8 years ago | (#15090351)

Mozilla and Firefox are both written with massive amounts of javascript/xul if its good enough for them.....

So are Thunderbird extensions but after I've written my first and probably last extension (http://wyoguide.sf.net/test/folderselect.xpi [sf.net] ), I'm happy to go back to C++.

O. Wyss

Re:Please Just Stop - I agree (1)

LordOfTheNoobs (949080) | more than 8 years ago | (#15090417)

While I will not say that javascript is perfect, it is much better than your snide comment makes it seem.

It has functions that are nothing more than a mutable datatype. The dot syntax is just a shorthand into an array of objects on the current object, which can seem peculiar, but works fantastically when you come across the odd need for it. And there are few languages that offer anything near the ease and flexibility of its lambda functions. They're sheer brilliant.

function getSubtractFromBaseValueFunction( baseValue )
{
return function(s){ return baseValue - s} ;
}

x = 4 ;
i = 0 ;
while( t = ( getSubtractFromBaseValueFunction(x) )( i++ ) )
{
document['write']( "Look at that first class custom returned lambda go! " + t + " " + x + " " + i + "<br/>" ) ;
document.write('Just Shorthand!<br/>')
}

gives:

Look at that first class custom returned lambda go! 4 4 1
Just Shorthand!
Look at that first class custom returned lambda go! 3 4 2
Just Shorthand!
Look at that first class custom returned lambda go! 2 4 3
Just Shorthand!
Look at that first class custom returned lambda go! 1 4 4
Just Shorthand!

The language is flexible in a way that makes it literally freeform. Which is scary to some, but means power to code the best way possible to the problem at hand for the rest of us.

and before anyone says anything, the above is meant to show the flexibility of the language, not to be useful in any immediate manner

Re:Please Just Stop (4, Insightful)

PhunkySchtuff (208108) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089438)

But, it's a hack.
This is a good thing. Where would we be today if people didn't get technology that was originally developed for one purpose and make it do things that the original creators never envisaged...

That burrito you just whacked in the microwave to heat up? We wouldn't have microwave ovens if it wasn't for someone hacking military radar technology to heat food.

This intraweb thing you're reading at the moment - tell me you're not really glad that it's not another boring scientific document you're reading. That's why you're here at /.

There's nothing wrong with taking one technology, or in the case of AJAX, a combination of technologies and taking them places that we never dreamed possible.

Re:Please Just Stop (2, Interesting)

kennygraham (894697) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089487)

But, it's a hack.
This is a good thing.
[snip]
or in the case of AJAX, a combination of technologies and taking them places that we never dreamed possible.

The problem is that it's not just taking existing technologies. It's taking a non-standard proprietary extention to javascript, and adding it to the existing technologies. If it used real javascript, it'd be great. Yes, I'm a standards nazi.

Re:Please Just Stop (1)

cthugha (185672) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089753)

If what you get at the end is stable, efficient technology that solves a problem and solves it well, then yes, it's a good thing. Otherwise, it's just a curiosity, which is all very well from an R&D viewpoint, but it doesn't help me get my everyday work done.

The grandparent's point seems to be that the industry is doing what it's done many times before: adopting a particular novel technology as a universal solution. To use your analogy, it would be as if somebody came along and said, "Well, you've got microwaves now, so there's no need to produce all those old ovens, grills, cooktops, etc anymore." The microwave might be an elegant solution to the problem of simply heating food, but as a universal cooking solution it's pretty poor. So it is with AJAX, and with web "applications" generally.

Re:Please Just Stop (1)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 8 years ago | (#15090060)

Hey man, whack your burrito on your own time.

Re:Please Just Stop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15089532)

The moderators must be on drugs because they marked that as interesting.

OK smart boy, if you're not going to write your web-based applications with JavaScript then what language are you going to use? That's right, you don't have an answer. You have no point. So until you force Microsoft and Netscape (that will never happen! The Mozilla guys hate technology) to include an interpreter or virtual machine for a different language, we're stuck with JavaScript. It's the only choice despite your useless rant.

Rather than a useless attack on those of us that accept reality and build things that work as well as they can, we would all be better off if that energy was spent on convincing Microsoft and Netscape to one day include a better programming language.

Re:Please Just Stop (1)

AaronLawrence (600990) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089834)

GP is saying that client side applications should be written native, NOT as web applications.

Re:Please Just Stop (1)

MrNonchalant (767683) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089553)

Why do I use AJAX at work? Because it works in the browsers I know employees will be running (Firefox and Internet Explorer), isn't really all that hard to write or debug, and makes the user experience considerably better. Best of all, the way I implemented it (and the way it should be implemented) is so you can do the same things in a browser that doesn't support AJAX or even JavaScript. It's just less convenient that way. The use case is something like this: I'm writing an asset tracking solution for a medium-size organization. In this asset tracking solution I want people to check off things. The non-JavaScript version requires that after they check stuff off on a page they must click save in order to have those checks stick. The AJAX version is so much more intuitive and friendly, they check stuff off and then can just navigate to another page without having to worry about saving their data. The web is what you make it, not some definition set in stone for time imemorial.

Re:Please Just Stop (3, Informative)

danielk1982 (868580) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089683)

The AJAX version is so much more intuitive and friendly, they check stuff off and then can just navigate to another page without having to worry about saving their data. The web is what you make it, not some definition set in stone for time imemorial.

You used AJAX in the way it was 'meant' to be used - as a compliment to existing web functionality.

Now go write a spreadsheet program that competes with Excel, but do it in Javascript and we'll see what you'll make of Ajax then.

(BTW, ajaxWrite is really a XUL application, which means it is not portable across Browsers - heck, its not even portable across Firefox releases. The whole thing is pointless as a marketable app. As a proof of concept its interesting. As vacuum for VC money its perfect).

Re:Please Just Stop (2, Funny)

cballowe (318307) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089858)

oddly enough -- someone today told me something like "computer science is the art of solving problems by adding layers of indirection" or something like that

Re:Please Just Stop (1)

PietjeJantje (917584) | more than 8 years ago | (#15090098)

The Internet for consumers is a hack. Will you get off?

Re:Please Just Stop (1)

edumacator (910819) | more than 8 years ago | (#15090829)

Everytime I see a post about how Web 2.0 is going to flop primarily because of the bad architecture of AJAX, I think we might be missing the underlying issue.

What all these AJAX apps are showing us, is that people aren't willing to be tied to a particular computer, when they can access information from anywhere. What people want, and AJAX apps are providing, until a better, distributable, and multiplatform alternative arrives, is access anywhere anytime. AJAX is helping bridge the gap between the current architecture of the web, and consumers' needs.

I don't doubt that AJAX will prove bulky and ultimately untenable, but for now it serves a function.

For me, I like the idea of AJAX apps. I'm willing to suffer the glitches and less functionality as long as I have anywhere access. What I'd really like to see is a desktop app that is tied to a web-based app. Then I could use a more powerful tool, like OO, on my computer and save directly to an ftp account, so if I need to make a change on the fly from somewhere else, I can use a less functional synchronized web app.

My two cents anyway.

Re:Please Just Stop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15090853)

Maybe I'm old fashioned as far as Internet is concerned, but couldn't the same thing be accomplished with a Java applet - and that was 7 years ago or so. Oh but wait, it isn't called AJAX or Web 2.0.

Lately, I've put AJAX on my buzzword hype alert list. Frankly, I'm surprised that it hasn't appeared as a headline in the Star or National Enquirer.

On the other hand, using XUL to do user interfaces for web apps seems like a great idea. I'd like to see more of it - besides, the more XUL usage there is the more people will need to use Firefox unless Microsoft adds XUL support.
     

Re:Please Just Stop (1)

FKnight (521972) | more than 8 years ago | (#15092637)

On the other hand, using XUL to do user interfaces for web apps seems like a great idea. I'd like to see more of it - besides, the more XUL usage there is the more people will need to use Firefox unless Microsoft adds XUL support. Yeah. Forcing people to use Firefox is good. Forcing people to use IE is bad.

worst name ever (0, Troll)

eweaver (211016) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089357)

You know it's gonna be stupid when they're not creative enough to come up with a real name, but instead name it after a frickin' programming technique.

Agreed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15089394)

It's a worse name than "Windows," which at least has a semblance of meaning to users.

Re:worst name ever (1)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089823)

Especially when it doesn't really use that frickin' programming technique.

Not sure why you got a troll mod when you're spot on. Calling this AJAXwrite is like calling Linux JavaOS.

AJAX Apps Will Never Replace the Real Thing (5, Interesting)

dteichman2 (841599) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089358)

JavaScript (ECMA) is slow and resource intensive. Even more so when communicating with a server. A portable document editor may be fine and dandy, but I'd really rather carry around a copy of Portable OpenOffice on one of my USB drives. While a real app may be large, at least it's full-featured and (mostly) responsive/stable. I don't know about you, but it would suck to have your net connection give out and lose everything since the last update.

AJAX abuse (1)

rulix (965970) | more than 8 years ago | (#15090329)

Totally agree!! I think AJAX is becoming a fever and now people is trying to do anything with it. What the hell's next? Stand-alone-navigator-machines and the operating system running with AJAX? Come on!! Ajax aplications can be very useful, google mail is a good example (i love running gtalk while cheking gmail) But i think we are kinda... crossing the line.

Re:AJAX Apps Will Never Replace the Real Thing (1)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 8 years ago | (#15090355)

Ajax apps will never replace the real thing? Tell that to everybody using webmail as their mail client. Hell, you don't even need Ajax to displace "the real thing", people have been using Hotmail and others as their mail client for years before Ajax became all the rage.

it would suck to have your net connection give out and lose everything since the last update.

There's no reason to assume a dropped connection means anything. HTTP is a stateless protocol, simply reconnect and carry on using it.

Even if there were a problem, that's what autosave is for. Earlier versions of Windows and Office proved that it's possible to get work done even when the platform you are working on is totally unreliable.

Furthermore, some people have been experimenting with using Flash and Java to allow Ajax applications to work offline (yes, you read that correctly, and I'm not getting confused, you can have an Ajax web application use a helper applet to save stuff when you are offline).

Re:AJAX Apps Will Never Replace the Real Thing (2, Interesting)

JMZero (449047) | more than 8 years ago | (#15092724)

Huh - they already did at my company. We wrote a web script based word processor about 4 years ago. Since then it has processed around 2 million documents, and generally has high user satisfaction.

Our users were initially concerned - as you are - about losing docs, so we wrote a component that allows periodic backup saves to your hard disk. But it's seldom used - a good percentage of people don't even have it installed. People's net connections just don't die that often.

The one feature people missed was dotted-right-aligned tabs (as our base, HTML, doesn't really do that so well). We simulate the effect with tables - it's not perfect but it's just fine. Pretty much any other big feature - from mail merge to pictures to spellcheck - we got working pretty quickly. Script may be slow - but not slow enough to bog down reasonably fast computers. It's actually a very pleasant platform to develop an application on.

The new office paradigm (2, Insightful)

DerGeist (956018) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089364)

I have a feeling the "next generation" office suite will permit online collaboration. Imagine and online office suite that allows real-time collaboration between editors. With more and more laptops coming ready made with webcam/mic setups, I don't think it would be hard to imagine an online MS Word with a "teleconference" going on in a side-panel. Since many meeting s nowadays turn into little more than a romp in MS Word, this would save considerable travel time and permit simultaneous edits from contributors (a sort of "parallel processing", if you will).

Now, there are some issues with real-time editing of a document by multiple people, my idea would be to have color-coded cursors for each editor so you could see where everyone is in the document (you can see how Excel cell highlights would work in a similar fashion). Overall, I think it can work, and I envision this is going to be hitting the workplace sooner than we all may think.

Re:The new office paradigm (3, Informative)

tmasssey (546878) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089504)

I envision this is going to be hitting the workplace sooner than we all may think.

Meet the future: IBM Workplace [ibm.com]

It allows you to collaborate via the web on both Office *and* OpenOffice documents, with full IM capabilities built-in. Integrate it with Lotus Sametime [ibm.com] and you get a full web conferencing suite: voice (including SIP), video, whiteboarding, etc...

Really some very cool technology. And as you can see from my sig, I can even help you with implementing such a project! :)

Re:The new office paradigm (1)

John Nowak (872479) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089796)

SubEthaEdit on the mac already does this.

Re:The new office paradigm (1)

AndreiK (908718) | more than 8 years ago | (#15091331)

Can you imagine the custom games people could write with that setup?

Re:The new office paradigm (1)

FKnight (521972) | more than 8 years ago | (#15092662)

I have a feeling the "next generation" office suite will permit online collaboration. Imagine and online office suite that allows real-time collaboration between editors. With more and more laptops coming ready made with webcam/mic setups, I don't think it would be hard to imagine an online MS Word with a "teleconference" going on in a side-panel.

You mean like what Microsoft Office System does now? Oh wait, that's right, end users don't want all those bloated features that they never use.

Very useful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15089370)

I see a future for these apps in corporate environments. Centralised storage, easy to deploy, what's not to like? I can't say that having my documents stored somewhere across the internet appeals to me though. Privacy issues aside, it's just too unreliable for a task as common as this.

Anyone know of an open souce XUL app like this? If not, I might have found my next project.

Since when does XUL == AJAX? (1)

jdgrimes (449436) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089374)

Quoting from Alex Russell's blog post, "ajaxWrong" at http://alex.dojotoolkit.org/?p=551 [dojotoolkit.org] :
Apparently a new XUL app called "ajaxWrite" was just launched. I think this thing is going to be my poster child for what's wrong with single-renderer markup languages from now on. It might be a fine app, I haven't used it long enough to have a strong opinion, but its marketing is truly reprehensible. I'm sure someone assured Michael Robertson that they couldn't launch a web-ish app without tacking the word "ajax" in the title and the folks with sense were shouted down. A pity. This thing is appropriating the necessarily amorphous terminology of "Ajax" for an implementation that is directly at odds with why Ajax is an important technology. A XUL app being billed as "Ajax" is just as laughable as a Flex or XAML app suddenly growing the same moniker. That it's Mozilla's walled-garden language doesn't really excuse the gaffe.

Re:Since when does XUL == AJAX? (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 8 years ago | (#15090190)

You could say that XUL (and XAML) has more rights to the X in AJAX than HTML.

Not Likely (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15089378)

just how apt a replacement ajaxWrite is for the big installed word processors.

Not if he doesn't learn a lot more about the DOM, and fast.

I was all ready to complement the AjaxWrite team on having finally delivered the first online wordprocessor with full font-sizing abilities. Then I realized something: There are only 7 font sizes. The same 7 that are supported by every rich text editor in existance. Why only seven? Because those seven are built into the rich text editing component that's included with Mozilla and IE. If you want to allow arbitray font sizes, you have to delve down into the DOM and start some complex tweaking.

All AjaxWrite has done is hide these facts by assigning standard font sizes. Anyone with the right info could replicate this "feat" pretty easily.

Sorry, nothing to see here.

The bright side is that his ass supports the Microsoft DOC format. How well it supports it is an open question, but he probably is using a library like POI [apache.org] to do the heavy lifting. Nothing wrong with that, but also nothing ground-breaking. I imagine that many users will drop this tool as soon as they realize they can't properly match font sizes.

Let's check back next week and see if his next attempt is more interesting.

Re:Not Likely (1)

emurphy42 (631808) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089398)

I liked this comment better the first [slashdot.org] time I read it.

Re:Not Likely (1)

emurphy42 (631808) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089406)

...aww damn, botched the link. Here's [slashdot.org] the correct one.

So now Windows users... (3, Insightful)

the_flyswatter (720503) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089389)

Not only do have to worry about your browser/os crashing, you have to worry about your internet connection flaking out too!

Brilliant!

Re:So now Windows users... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15090436)

Not really, if all the javascript needed to save a local copy is loaded into the client (as it should be). Then the document its self is still safe and can be opened up by the online program thingy at a later stage (and saved to the server if you want).

Re:So now Windows users... (1, Interesting)

saltydogdesign (811417) | more than 8 years ago | (#15090823)

Yeah, better just stick to paper and pencil.

Online programs that I would be willing to use. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15089397)

Online word processing per se doesn't seem like a brilliant idea. On the other hand, there are programs that I no longer use; but I have lots of files generated by those programs. An online version of CorelDraw that I could use to translate old drawings into dxf or odg or something; that I would use. I have a zillion old autocad drawings that I need to access every now and then but I no longer have autocad. I would pay a bit to use an online version of autocad occasionally.

This Company is Screwed (5, Insightful)

dteichman2 (841599) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089405)

The same people who rolled this out, also have an AJAX video editor. The problem with editing video on a web interface is that all rendering must be done on the server-side. The problem with server-side rendering of video at or near realtime is the necessity of a renderfarm. The problem wth a renderfarm is that it costs money. The problem with costing money is that there's no way they can make any, except by charging ads, which won't be near enough. They could embed ads into the videos, but I still don't think that'd cut it. I'd only pay to have my vids rendered online like this if it was dirt cheap ($1 or $2/month), which a renderfarm isn't.

Who is the target audience? (3, Insightful)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089446)

I could understand if these guys were building a component for rich text editing for form fields, ala TinyMCE or such. But this seems to be...just completely bizarre?

Who is the target market user for this -- people who think Windows Write is just too convenient? Someone whose 486 didn't come with a Turbo button, so all their old text editing programs just run too fast?

It has all the features of Windows Write or Apple Textedit, with the stability and performance of a web browser! It's annoying enough to type out a response in a text field and have it get eaten by a network error or page refresh problem or browser crash -- do we really need to start losing entire documents?

Re:Who is the target audience? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15089977)

Who is the target market user for this [...]?

VCs

ajaxWrite has nothing to do with AJAX. It's XUL. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15089484)

ajaxWrite has nothing to do with AJAX. It is a XUL application, and runs only in Mozilla ! It also has almost nothing to do with Javascript...so all you bozos out there saying that javascript based word apps are a bad idea....jeez..i don't even know what to say to you.

For christ's sake...what's next...ajaxIceCream ?

Re:ajaxWrite has nothing to do with AJAX. It's XUL (1)

ptlis (772434) | more than 8 years ago | (#15090292)

Last I understood AJAX stood for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML - XUL is a XML UI markup language and uses JavaScript as glue code, as long as they use the XMLHTTPRequest object to communicate with the server then of course it can be claseed as an AJAX application (moreso than most AJAX apps infact, as it's actually an XML document as opposed to HTML or XHTML served incorrectly).

Re:ajaxWrite has nothing to do with AJAX. It's XUL (1)

j_sp_r (656354) | more than 8 years ago | (#15091941)

AjaxSoccerClubAmsterdam

i don't get it (1)

danielk1982 (868580) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089542)

Writing a full featured client side application in ajax is stupid. Stupid because javascript is messy, slow, and it is far from standard across browsers.

Would this applicaton not have been better as a java applet?

Re:i don't get it (1)

motiz88 (912086) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089860)

Ha! If only Java were anywhere near standard across browsers. Unless you want to force users to download the latest Java Plugin before running your applet (a long and annoying procedure), you can never rely on users having any version beyond Java 1.1, which predates the "Java 2" branding and lacks huge portions of the modern API (even basic things like the object-oriented event model). That's if you can assume they have a Java implementation at all - I understand Windows XP no longer ships even with M$'s crippled 1.1-compatible JRE.

Now, IE and Firefox share a core specification of JavaScript (standardized a while back as ECMAScript) that, while slightly out of date in terms of the official JS spec published at mozilla.org and used in Firefox, works well and is usable. Beyond the language, both IE and Firefox (I'll focus on these two because I've used both) implement a number of W3C standard APIs, sometimes differing slightly but offering the same functionality.

Oh, and the XMLHTTPRequest object - a M$ invention that was so useful, it immediately got implemented as-is in Firefox and other browsers, for the first time making what we now call "AJAX" truly portable.

More crucially: The interpreted nature of the language allows for a kind of encapsulation that can result in 100% compatibility with any JavaScript-enabled browser, falling back gracefully the less capable the browser.

Now, JavaScript, in itself, isn't messy. You've probably seen a lot of messy JavaScript, but that's because there are a lot of messy JS coders out there. An experienced programmer making good use of what the language has to offer can create any AJAX application she wants - elegantly. It has nothing to do with the language.

And even assuming you're right, and some JavaScript implementations are slow - well, that's just a matter of optimization, right? Implementations are getting better; some of them are really good already - see mozilla.org. In fact, the AJAX trend (I won't pretend it isn't one) will probably drive browser vendors to work harder on optimization.

Re:i don't get it (1)

danielk1982 (868580) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089897)


Ha! If only Java were anywhere near standard across browsers. Unless you want to force users to download the latest Java Plugin before running your applet (a long and annoying procedure)


I sure would - a one time download of 20megs isn't too bad.

For one reason or another, Java never really had a fair shot to develop and take-off..too bad.

Now, JavaScript, in itself, isn't messy. You've probably seen a lot of messy JavaScript, but that's because there are a lot of messy JS coders out there.

Don't get me wrong javascript in the context of dhtml and small focused ajax applications is good and works well. Javascrit/Ajax as a feature rich complex gui client does not work well. After a certain number of LOC, the language itself becomes a hinderence.

In the specific example of ajaxWrite, which actually used XUL to create the UI, I can't help but think how much easier to develop and more robust it would be with java.


And even assuming you're right, and some JavaScript implementations are slow - well, that's just a matter of optimization, right?


My bad, forget I mentioned this. I've never actually had an issue with speed (live.com excluded), I just kind of threw that in there =)

Re:i don't get it (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 8 years ago | (#15090225)

lacks huge portions of the modern API (even basic things like the object-oriented event model)

1.1 may be bad, but its not quite that bad. The new event model was introduced in 1.1, and 1.0 was never mainstream so isn't worth worrying about. While it might be easier to implement things like accessibility and internationalisation in Java 2, the basic functionality should never require more than 1.1 unless you insist on using Swing.

Most OEMs will bundle Sun's latest JRE with Windows XP these days, so the fact that Microsoft no longer ships their JVM is not the great loss you make it out to be.

Isn't AjaxWriter just a XUL application now? (1)

caseih (160668) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089549)

Seems to me that the latest incarnation which requires firefox 1.5 and takes over the entire window (menu and everything) is just a normal web-hosted XUL application. If this is the case then it is not technically ajax. Can someone shed some light on this? I mean will it work on IE 6? What about Safari?

I think that useful XUL applications are a good thing, if that's what it is.

This isn't AJAX. (4, Funny)

ahoehn (301327) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089571)

This can't be AJAX, there are hardly any rounded corners at all.

Re:This isn't AJAX. (1)

boomgopher (627124) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089908)

Funny stuff :-D

Re:This isn't AJAX. (1)

Ezku (806454) | more than 8 years ago | (#15090364)

No, that's Web 2.0 you're thinking of.

Man, does that app suck great steaming tourdes... (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089728)

I was all excited. I upgraded to Firefox 1.5. I go the website. I get AJAXwrite going. I see I can choose some fonts. Not as many as I have loaded, but some, andthat will do for now, I suppose. And then I notice it won't let me choose anything but a certain set of font sizes. That kind of blows.

So I type something, select it and try to change the font.

What happens? Nada. It still looks like TimesRoman.

Brilliant!

I can change the size of the font, but I can't change the appearance. Arf.

Import pictures? Nope.

Apple's ultraCheeez app, TextEdit is better than this POS.

I think it's an interesting idea, and certainly an interesting way to do AJAX dev, but totally inferior as an application.

RS

It saved my friends bacon (2, Insightful)

barnaclebarnes (85340) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089780)

But if you're stuck somewhere with an internet connection and Microsoft Word files to edit but no word processor, ajaxWrite might save your tail.


My friend emailed himself a document at his work which he saved in OpenDocument format only to find he could not open it in Word. ajaxWrite saved him from making a 1 hour round trip home to get it converted. It may not be Word but it does have its uses.

Re:It saved my friends bacon (1)

mwerner (447006) | more than 8 years ago | (#15090203)

Your friend would have been better off installing OpenOffice on his computer at work. Then these problems don't even arise.

Max

Re:It saved my friends bacon (1)

ivoras (455934) | more than 8 years ago | (#15092558)

If his friend could install OpenOffice on his computer at work, then his company's system administrator is not doing his job very well.

Re:It saved my friends bacon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15091220)

If he could download his email why couldn't he download OpenOffice or AbiWord?

OK, 75 Mb on a modem isn't pleasant, but it beats an hour on the road.

One trick pony? (1)

J. Random Luser (824671) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089790)

but let's just say the web-based word processor has some catching up to do.

like working on any browser, of my choice?

Re:One trick pony? (1)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 8 years ago | (#15090106)

Or saving Word/RTF files in such a way that they can be read by either Word 97 or Office XP? (tried both, neither could read the files written by AjaxRite)

All the real work is in the browser itself, no? (1)

AaronLawrence (600990) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089829)

OK, I could be wrong, but ...

As far as I know, they aren't actually doing word processing in AJAX, ie. when you type a letter, it isn't modifying the DOM. It's just a Firefox/Mozilla HTML edit control, with a small user interface around it to choose fonts, etc.

This is exactly the same as developers who create a "Browser" by taking MSHTML control and putting a new menu and toolbar. They do perhaps 1% of the work, and the existing library object does the remaining 99% of understanding how to parse and layout HTML, fetch files by HTTP, and run Javascript.

It would be much more impressive if they actually modify the DOM for every keystroke, display their own cursor, etc.

its better than Writely (1)

kadnan (914752) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089845)

Whether its XUL based or webbased,it rocks.I opened a MS Word file in it and it didnt screw it up.I think google guys would be regretting after seeing this application on sky.

Re:its better than Writely (1)

mOOzilla (962027) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089953)

"It rocks"? So, it runs like a brick?

Better than Writely? (1)

Zadaz (950521) | more than 8 years ago | (#15092302)

Better than Writely? In what way?

Writely has
  • Spell Check
  • Multiple browser support
  • Live collaboration
  • Revision history
  • Search and Replace
  • Online storage (So you don't have to up/download every freaking document when you want to change one word)
  • Keyboard shortcuts that work

And it's still in beta.

The only thing ajaxWrite currently has over Writely is that Writely is so popular they had to stop the open beta, so the general public can't use it.

Oh and it has "Ajax" in the name for some stupid reason.

Firefox only (1)

niff (175639) | more than 8 years ago | (#15090187)

ajaxWrite only works in FireFox, which partly defeats the purpose of having it in a browser.

The main page showed me a link where i could download firefox.

If i can download something of that size, and if i have sufficient privileges to install such software, i'll just install a proper text editor.

For an alternative take on word processing... (2, Interesting)

drewlondon (918917) | more than 8 years ago | (#15090218)

The definition of a word processor needs updating.

One big document is not always how writers work. That's not how I work, that's not how I think. I like to write lots of different fragments, rearrange them, and then piece them all together later.

I use AJAX sticky notes at http://www.protopage.com/ [protopage.com] as my word processor.

It doesn't look like a word processor - but then the decades old definition of a word processor I think needs to be updated.

This shows the future of abuse (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 8 years ago | (#15091353)

RTFA-ing:
It's also a little weird to completely lose your browser functions, like the back button, when you go to the ajaxWrite url.

If this AJAX app can do all that to the browser, imagine what could be done in the hands of a spammer. I totally worry about Firefox security, now.

I decided to give it a shot in a totally separate instance of Firefox. But just as a test, I opened a 2nd window in that Firefox process, and a 2nd tab as well. Would they go away? When I click on the button to run ajaxWrite, it fails and says Javascript is not enabled. But in fact it is enabled. When I open it in its own window, with no tabs, then it seems to be OK. I presume it must be some Javascript function that failed (like steal.all.the.browser.button.space() or such). So it might not be as bad as I first feared.

something they forgot (1)

josepha48 (13953) | more than 8 years ago | (#15091537)

.. if you upload a file, not everyone has high speed uploads. While you may have 1.5Mbz download ( unless your like me using earthlink and only 900k ) then chances are that you only get 128k uploads. This means that if you have large document stored locally and you need to edit it, it could take a few minutes for it to upload. Also if you have a slower connection, then you are in for a wait... I say this as I try to use it to edit a 4 page word doc.

Chiapaint, 1996 (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 8 years ago | (#15092040)

If you do not know Chiapaint, go immediately to www.bricklin.com/chiapaint.htm [bricklin.com] and download this hysterically funny 1996 demo which "is most funny to people who understand the technical problems (and who haven't made major financial commitments to downloadable component software)"

If you've tried AjaxWrite--I have--you'll see that most of Bricklin's remarks are still dead on the money. I, for one, waste twenty minutes trying to find a Mac browser that would work with this supposedly cross-platform application. I gave up, went to a Windows machine, spent a little more time download browser updates until I found one that worked.

(And then, of course... I proceded to load, not just any Word document, but the precise Word document I was actually working on at work that day. Nothing deliberately outrageous in it, nothing deliberately intended to test compatibility, but, sure, it used a Word style sheet and it had some pictures in it. I think the best way I can characterize the experience is to say that AjaxWrite didn't do as good a job at rendering a Word document as Mac OS X's TextEdit program does... and neither of them was acceptable).

When do we get a real UI for the web? (1)

aCapitalist (552761) | more than 8 years ago | (#15092467)

It's nice that Google has the engineering resources to deal with all of the idiosyncracies and severe limitations that DHTML imposes, but for my needs I'd rather use something like Flex 2.0 (when that comes out) or WPF/E (when that comes out). I'm talking about apps here (like a word processor), and not a document-centric web site.

Of course the needs of an app are varied, and even the definition of an "app" can be blurred on the web, but I just can never get over the severe limitations that DHTML imposes on us.

I think things are going to get real interesting when Microsoft releases WPF/E. Flash has a huge installed base, but I think that WPF/E has a couple advantages over Flash - that it's just markup and not bytecode, and that it can be scripted with standard javascript and not Adobe's actionscript. Microsoft is going to do a port to Macs and I'll presume that a Linux engine will make it into the wilds eventually.

I love the web because of it's deployment advantages, but just hate many of the limitations that stock browsers (sans plugins) have.

Versions and security (1)

WWWWolf (2428) | more than 8 years ago | (#15092703)

...why are "Document protection" and "Document revisions" such an important things, as the review says, in Word?

I've used the revision feature of OpenOffice.org and the end result is not pretty. What I end up with is a gigantic work file, with a rather limited functionality in revision comments and a rather silly end result with revision differences view. One look at that and I already got the distinct deep-rooted belief in my head that it will never work, and while I've not used Word's version of this, it isn't going to work any better. I'm now using Subversion for storing some project stuff and it's about million times more flexible than this integrated scheme.

(Plus, "essential tools for businesses"? I thought all of the security-conscious businesses have learned their lessons from these extremely handy revision tools long ago, and would take measures to eradicate revision data in the documents themselves. Remember that stink about all that leaked data through Word's quicksave a long time ago? I remember someone posting about some not so funny information discovered from Word files regarding some Iraq document or something, too...)

As for document security, ever heard of this thing called GnuPG? =) Plus, in case of AjaxWrite, it would be pretty silly to use document security measures... To allow AjaxWrite to decrypt and open your documents, you'd need to give AjaxWrite the secret key, and you can't just hand your secret keys to anyone. And it would be pointless since AjaxWrite servers are ultimately an untrusted party (a bunch of people with a webserver somewhere out there, as opposed to a computer right front of you, not saying either can be trusted as far as you can throw them anyway =) and the link between AjaxWrite and user is encrypted already (or if it isn't, I sure as heck hope it will be!) so there's no point in doing that anyway...

...I'm kind of rambling here. Sorry, it's late.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?