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Forbes Reviews AJAX Apps for Small Businesses

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the better-than-the-cleaning-product dept.


prostoalex writes "Forbes magazine evaluates the variety of AJAX-powered Internet-based applications and their suitability for small businesses. The office suite replacements Forbes magazine chose are Google-centric: Google Calendar, Spreadsheets, Notebook and Gmail are the winners of their respective categories. Pageflakes and YouOS are tied for the leader's spot in 'Webtops' category."

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Thanks, Forbes (4, Insightful)

generic-man (33649) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068387)

"But don't throw away your desktop applications just yet. As a general rule, Ajax sites simply aren't as powerful or as useful as their desktop counterparts. Spreadsheet jockeys, for example, will want to stick with Excel for the foreseeable future."

I also enjoy how many of the "recommended" apps are only available for use on outside servers, so no company-confidential data should ever be placed on them.

Re:Thanks, Forbes (3, Informative)

nursegirl (914509) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068557)

Forbes looked at such a small number of Ajax apps and put them into arbitrary categories. Google Notebook vs Backpack is apples and oranges. Yes, they're both ways of storing "stuff" perhaps even "information." But, the type of information stored in Google Notebook (collect information and quotes from around the www and then save them with citations), is very different than the information stored in Backpack (ToDo lists, Calendar, SMS/Email reminders).

Why don't I write an article comparing my day planner with my filing cabinet, while we're at it?

Re:Thanks, Forbes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16068994)

I enjoy how you reply to a non-related first post. Damn karma whore.

Re:Thanks, Forbes (1)

aprilsound (412645) | more than 7 years ago | (#16070592)

I enjoy how you claim that a poster who already has good karma is a karama whore, but post AC so as not to risk your own karama. Damn trolls.

Re:Thanks, Forbes (4, Insightful)

XorNand (517466) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068767)

To the IT-inclined, yeah, hosting data vital your business on someone's server can make you cringe. However, to 99% of the small businesses out there, they think nothing of it. All you have to do is look to the success of to see that. Or even more common: How many small businesses use IMAP (either through a client or a webmail interface)? If their webhost suddenly closed their doors, they could potentially lose years of critical correspondence.

As an IT guy myself, I stuggle to explain this sort of stuff to small business owners. But them again, these are the same people who balk at the cost of DAT or DLT drive yet wouldn't even consider canceling their business owner's insurance policy. Go figure.

Re:Thanks, Forbes (2, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068898)

The difference is, is that you're paying, and there's probably some kind of confidentiality agreement that goes along with it. The free services on the other hand seem to have lots of issues that I wouldn't want to get involved with.

Why IT Doesn't Matter Anymore (1)

littlewink (996298) | more than 7 years ago | (#16069848)

Because, other than IT people, businessmen believe tha "IT Doesn't Matter". The destructive influence of offshore outsourcing combined with the dotcom bust has reduced the influence of IT and IT ideas to noise. Consequently businessmen treat IT as noise.

Maybe businessmen are correct - perhaps IT is no longer important. Will that remain so? My suspicion is "yes".

If not, then when will IT recover?

Re:Salesforce (1)

dean.collins (862044) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072479)

Personally I cant think of a better place to store our CRM data than

Think about it, how manay security specialists do I have on staff securing my data? (less than 0 so I'm sure SF has more).

How many staff do I have making sure our network is up and accessible (1 but I'm sure SF has more).

As for what happens if they shut their doors, well thats an educated risk I'm prepared to take.


Re:Thanks, Forbes (1)

JoloK (728770) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068906)

Actually, any "spreadsheet jockey" worth his salt uses OpenOffice.

Re:Thanks, Forbes (3, Interesting)

jrockway (229604) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068913)

Also, they forgot about EditGrid [] , which is based on Gnumeric and web-ified with Catalyst [] .

Re:Thanks, Forbes (2, Interesting)

kolme (981304) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071135)

Not to say... AJAX is an overhyped new name for JavaScript. Do you wanna know AJAX? Well, this is it:

    xmlHttp = new XMLHttpRequest();

Those are the four lines you need to know to do AJAX. It's nothing more that JavaScript. If you already know HTML, JavaScript and CSS, you can show off your AJAX leet skills.

If you think JavaScript is going to replace C/C++/Python/whatever in the desktop anytime soon... think again. It doesn't have the power, the flexibility or the libraries needed for succeed. Hell, you can even do more serious "programming" in Flash.

The best part... (1)

unity (1740) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071349)

The best part about AJAX and the hype is that MS "invented" it or at least was the first to have support for it way back in 1999; but it wasn't until 5 years later that somebody came up with a fancy name for it and google started using it that the real hype began.

AJAX 2.0 reasons... (1)

Duncan3 (10537) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068420)

1. Noone can "win" because the true beauty of web applications is you have most all the code on the client side, for anyone to copy freely. So this is really a matter of who has a new feature this week, that everyone else will also have next week. That's why it rocks.

2. Security, as in none of, nuff said.

Re:AJAX 2.0 reasons... (1)

jpardey (569633) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068634)

Yeah, the client side scripts, encrypted, and useless without the proper server and database, all under copyright, are on the user's computer. Not at all like a self reliant program. Decompilers never get anything right, and cloning features without source code? Impossible.

But yeah, security is a bit of a problem.

Shut up Zonk you fag bitch. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16068467)

Nobody cares about shitty web 2.0 cocksmokers. STFU.

sorry but... (0, Offtopic)

cbecker333 (971240) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068483)

I refuse to read anything from forbes ever since they posted this blatantly sexist piece, then removed it, then re-posted it along side a weak-ass "counterpoint" from some woman who is just as childishly ineffective at interpreting statistics neutrally: Divorce_cx_mn_land.html [] Forbes can suck on it.

This is worse (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16068672)

In response to that article you posted:

Therefore, the sexual value of a woman can be computed according to the formula (P*(E/60)*(N*12), wherein P = price per hour, E = length of average sexual encounter in minutes and N = number of monthly encounters. Assuming realistic maximums, this value can be expected to range between 0 and $1.67 million on an annual basis. However, if one assumes that P for the average woman is one-third the overnight rate of a pretty, but non-elite 20-year-old call girl, the sexual value of the average American woman works out to only $1,353.33 per annum. []

Zimbra or Roundcube? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16068511)

What, no mention of Zimbra or Roundcube (although that's beta)? At least those can be run locally.

Noooo way (0, Redundant)

AricC (912483) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068521)

Well google sure doesn't have much competition from msn or yahoo, especially when it comes to Gmail. Hotmail and Yahoo are huge spam dumpsters, I can't go two minutes without getting an offer for cheap pills and awesome mortage rates. Not, too sure about your comment on online security, things are more secure than you think it's not like any old arsebag can just jump into these servers and have free reign over the place.

Security wise... forget about it... (3, Interesting)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068530)

Unless I can host the application on my internal server, it makes no sense to store data on external servers that I have no control over. Besides, if I'm going to cook the books, I want a search warrant for my place instead of a warrant telling the application provider to hand over the data.

Re:Security wise... forget about it... (1)

mdozturk (973065) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068591)

"... instead of a warrant telling the application provider to hand over the data"

Warrant? No, must likely a subpoena would do.

Re:Security wise... forget about it... (2, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068677)

Warrant... subpoena... whatever! I'm too busy cooking the books to hire an attorney to tell me the difference. :P

Re:Security wise... forget about it... (2, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068931)

On the other hand, a lot of businesses like to look at the bottom line. If using exchange server costs you $5000 for server and server software, plus $50,000 a year for a sysadmin, plus $100 a seat for outlook, then the offsite, no admin, no server, no software $50 per seat solution starts to look really nice. It starts to look even nicer if it's $0 per seat.

Re:Security wise... forget about it... (1)

EsJay (879629) | more than 7 years ago | (#16069490)

No reason Ajax apps couldn't be hosted locally. For example, imagine Google selling something like the The Google Search Appliance [] to host Google applications on an intranet.

I'm an AJAX Attention Hoar ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16068561)

Thanks for clicking.....

I wonder why (2, Informative)

ClaraBow (212734) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068584)

ThinkFree Office wasn't even mentioned?

Does Dan Lyons still write for Forbes? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16068619)

Last time I read Forbes the articles were sub-standard compared to the shit-house wall.

Masterpieces of literature (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16068653)

Last time I read Forbes the articles were sub-standard compared to the shit-house wall.

Yes, how can a Forbes article compare to literary shithouse wall masterpieces like:

Tarzan swings and Tarzan falls,
Jane then grabs him by the b@lls
Now you know why Tarzan calls,

What I don't understand (5, Interesting)

Falesh (1000255) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068662)

Is why OpenOffice [] is rarely mentioned when talking about free alternatives to MS Office. OpenOffice if free to download and I have never found it wanting when compared with MS Office. Is it just not "cool" enough when compared to snazzy AJAX apps?

Re:What I don't understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16068800)

> What I don't understand Is why OpenOffice is rarely mentioned when talking about free alternatives to MS Office.

What planet are you on?

Here on Earth, the biggest F/OSS rival to MS Office is The biggest by far.

Notice how every mainstream Linux desktop comes with as it primary (and usually its only) office suite?

Do a Google search for "OpenOffice" versus any other F/OSS office suite. You'll find a minimum of 100 times as many hits for

How many people do you think can even name another F/OSS office suite besides

Re:What I don't understand (1)

Falesh (1000255) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068955)

"What planet are you on?"
Earth, you?

With regards to the rare mention of OOo compared to these Ajax alternatives, maybe I am wrong, I was just posting on what I had read. I am very happy to be corrected on this though, but maybe not by an irate Anonymous Coward. ;)

Re:What I don't understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16069242)

I wasn't irate -- I was simply baffled.

If you're wondering why people don't mention OOo as a specific alternative to Ajax office suites -- it's because they are two very different classes of software. Most people don't even seriously think about using an Ajax office suite unless they have already rejected MS Office or OOo for some fundamental reason. (A typical example: maybe they require a solution that needs no installation on the client.)

Re:What I don't understand (1)

Millenniumman (924859) | more than 7 years ago | (#16069729)

I bet 90% of people who know what OpenOffice is know of another open office suite.

Re:What I don't understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16068834)

v3 will be completely rewritten in java and will also include an applet interface (with AJAX support) so it can be run as a thin-client app. My company (won't name names, but it is in the Fortune 1000) is currently beta testing it and it works pretty slick. Much better than Cytrix + MS Office (and it works with OS X and X/GNU/Linux).

Re:What I don't understand (1)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 7 years ago | (#16069479)

I don't believe this. Sources?

Re:What I don't understand (1)

n4t3 (266019) | more than 7 years ago | (#16069860)

I have been attempting to use Open Office (since Star Office days) for years, and though I would love to grasp every opportunity to bash M$, I have to admit that printing envelopes in OO recently was a massive letdown. We could never get the thing to print on the envelope in a consistent manner (even after figuring out how to print the correct direction which took a while). The text would never print in the same place on the envelope twice in a row! Other than that though, OO has been an exceedingly well written replacement for MS Office. In fact, I recently wrote a presentation in Impress after struggling with Powerpoint for 20 minutes. Impress was easy to use, intuitive and exported to PP without a hitch.

Re:What I don't understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16070502)

I tried Open Office back when it was still Star Office (and shareware). I think it must have been on Red Hat 5 (Red Hat 4 didn't like the way my disk was partitioned and refused to install). Anyhow, it was ugly as hell and completely unusable. Watching the process in top, it slowly allocated all available memory then dumped core.

Pageflakes? NetVibes? (1)

Danathar (267989) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068698)

I don't know who ripped off who, but both sites seem to be the same thing....

pageflakes (1)

1000101 (584896) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068708)

pageflakes ==

Re:pageflakes (1)

Chris Pimlott (16212) | more than 7 years ago | (#16069243)

pageflakes = every portal site ever made...

worse than every other portal site ever made (2, Insightful)

LDoggg_ (659725) | more than 7 years ago | (#16069602)

Old portals had working back buttons.
Pageflakes sucks because of the oh-so-clever ajax naviagation.

No better than building the whole thing in flash or a java applet.

What about Presentations? (5, Interesting)

cwgmpls (853876) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068810)

The MS Office app that is in dire need of replacement, and the app that seems most obvious to run on the web is PowerPoint. Why not build your presentation on the web and instantly share it will all of your participants, rather than having to jump through PowerPoint's terrible web publishing procedures?

So why doesn't the article mention presentation tools, and why have none of the big players (Google, Yahoo!) put out a web2.0 presentation application yet?

I know there are a many options out there -- Zoho Show, Thumbstack, S5, Empressr, Wimpypoint, PmWiki SlideShow, TiddlyWiki SlideShow, Slidy, OperaShow, TeamSlide, Carbonmade.

I don't have the time to compare them and sort them all out. Where is the big article reviewing and comparing these badly-needed tools? And why aren't the big web guys giving this essential application any attention?

ALERT! ALERT! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16069673)

Poster has stated Powerpoint is an "essential application." The Slashdot core has been breached. Make for the exits. The marketing droids have entered the premises! We're DOOMED.

Re:What about Presentations? (1)

Gorimek (61128) | more than 7 years ago | (#16070637)

That was actually done quite well by a San Francisco startup called iAmaze [] back in 1999. They got acquired by Netscape/AOL and the product was never heard from again...

Google (2, Interesting)

SteveTheRed (244567) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068961)

I don't usually wear a tin-foil hat and I believe that most conspiracy theories are bullshit. That being said, does anyone else wonder what would happen if Google, as a publicly traded company, decided to set aside their "Don't be evil" values? The primary fiduciary duty of the leaders of a company are not to be "not evil", they are to create wealth for the shareholders. Right now it is to Google's advantage to be good just as it is to ExxonMobil's advantage to be bad, because both actions are creating wealth for the shareholders of each company. What if Google's business model doesn't sustain the profits that the shareholders expect?

Don't get me wrong: I love using Google. I think the Internet is a better place because of them. I'm just starting to worry that maybe we are depending too much on a company that, despite the best efforts and intentions of its founders, may not be able to maintain its presently outstanding values.

Re:Google (1)

antiWack (1000628) | more than 7 years ago | (#16069558)

I agree with you, but I think their "Don't be evil" mantra is working and will continue to work. When they provide everything they make for free, it attracts users. The more users they have, the more people they have to click on AdWords ads. They're doing exactly what they need to be doing to keep users.. besides good search results of course.

Google-Fudiciary myths. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16070155)

"The primary fiduciary duty of the leaders of a company are not to be "not evil", they are to create wealth for the shareholders."

*sigh* One day slashdot will get it right. *crosses fingers*

Anyway you do realize that there's a raft of laws that a company has to obey? Not just "fudiciary responsability". Right?

Re:Google-Fudiciary myths. (1)

SteveTheRed (244567) | more than 7 years ago | (#16070244)

Yes, AC, I do realize that there are many laws that a corporation must obey. I didn't get my nick because I am a communist. I'm just saying that there is a vast difference between a company that finds every possible loophole in the law to do really shitty things ("evil") and a company that generally does the right thing because it is the right thing to do ("good")

Re:Google-Fudiciary myths. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16070464)

Read "The end of shareholder value: corporations at the crossroads by Allan A. Kennedy"

Oh no (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068977)

Please tell me "Webtop" isn't a word now. I've almost gotten to the point where I can hear "Webinar" without audibly gagging.

Re:Oh no (2, Funny)

cheezit (133765) | more than 7 years ago | (#16069304)

Well, it was repeated at least 5 times in that yes, it is automatically now a word. Luckily, you quickly moved it straight to the sneered-at so-stoopid category with your post. It should be completely gone in 2 hours or so.

Phht Forbes - He's not like his daddy. (1)

Stumbles (602007) | more than 7 years ago | (#16069025)

What the hell would Forbes know about AJAX. I've not RTFA but would not be the least surprised if they confused it with a cleaning powder.

Re:Phht Forbes - He's not like his daddy. (1)

mxwest (1000134) | more than 7 years ago | (#16069473)

RIGHT(tm). Their javascript in the article doesn't even work to View Images.

That articles is a couple of weeks old (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16069361)

Serious question... (2, Insightful)

Javaman59 (524434) | more than 7 years ago | (#16069868)

OK, I've had a look at some of these Google web apps, and they look great, and probably will, in short time, meet the claim of doing what most users need most of the time.

Hwever, every place I've ever worked in has used some feature of MS Office, or the MS Windows OS, which isn't likely to see it's way into Web 2.0 for a long time. eg. large documents, with multiple views (outline, page layout, etc...), databases with pivot tables, a COM based plugin, a Windows only accounting package. However, I work in high tech industry, which may be aypical.

So, I ask - are there any businesses which *only* use basic OS and web functionality for everything?

If the answer is "no", then I would conclude that most everyone is going to keep paying the MS Tax to keep the feature or two which they need, and seeing as they're already paying for it, they might as well use the the rest of MS Windows and Office. (which saves admin and training costs)

No mention of WebPasties either? (1)

coldcanofbeer (820296) | more than 7 years ago | (#16069968)

The Google Calendar doesn't let you embed your event calendar in your own website. I like the WebPasties Calendar [] better because I can embed it in my own website and use colors for the calendar that complement my site's color scheme.

Don't marry a Forbes reader. (1)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 7 years ago | (#16070450)

Forbes is the lowest of the low. Like everybody else, they pick something that's "hot" and write articles about it, but unlike everybody else they do not consider expertise to be an important part of their job.

A friend of mine from college called me around 2002 and asked me what Linux was because Forbes' tech section writers were supposed to mention Linux in their articles if at all possible.

Now AJAX is hot, and they need to tell their idiotic PHB readers about the "hot" new thing without rocking the boat too much. Do I understand correctly that this is geared towards small businesses, but they aren't mentioning Joyent? Joyent needs to get their PR together.

Anyway, Forbes articles are not news. Please do not force me to address this again.


svunt (916464) | more than 7 years ago | (#16070536)

I just opened both Ajax desktop things in the summary, and Firefox not only took over all my RAM, it actually connected to Best Buy and used my Visa number to order another two sticks of Corsair.

Enough with the portals! (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#16070633)

Their "tops" -- PageFlakes and YouOS -- are just like any other portal site. I can understand the appeal of replacing desktop apps, to a point, but I really, really don't see the point of replacing functionality that's already there in a web browser.

Another good Ajax Webmail (2, Interesting)

blackhaze (773215) | more than 7 years ago | (#16070828)

No mention of @Mail [] which offers Ajax email, and is a download product rather then online service like the ones listed in the Forbes article. I think the Forbes article is pretty light/fluffy, but it is for their target audience anyway ....

Lesson learned from Ajax: (1)

master_p (608214) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071312)

there is a need for a distributed information system/operating environment.

All the solutions so far are ineffective solutions to the same problem:

-terminal services
-remote login
-the X-window system

I wonder when the big companies will realize this; it is a gold mine, and whoever gets there first will have the others cornered.

what does Ajax do .. (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071584)

"there is a need for a distributed information system/operating environment."

What does Ajax do that a Java application couldn't do better?
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