Dan Bricklin’s WikiCalc

News.com writes about the marriage of wikis and spreadsheets by the creator of VisiCalc.

“With (Excel), you get people playing e-mail volleyball with attachments all day long, so it’s grossly inefficient,” Mayfield said. “How do you track changes on a spreadsheet? What happens if you don’t have just two people going back and forth, (but) have a finance department of 40 people trying to roll up numbers.”

Bricklin’s answer is to make it possible for anyone using WikiCalc to enter data and for anyone else to edit that data and have those edits be reflected on everyone’s computers instantaneously.

“You could use it as an authoring tool without having anything more than a hosting account from your ISP,” Bricklin said.

For now, not all WikiCalc features are live. For example, the ability to enter HTML into cells and do dynamic calls for information from the Web is not yet available. But Bricklin said that most, if not all, features should be ready in the beta version later this month.

As a functional spreadsheet, WikiCalc is definitively not on par with Excel, those familiar with it are quick to point out. Yet the software can handle many spreadsheet-like functions, including presenting data in the tabular format that so many are comfortable with and calculating formulas in discrete cells. And that is what could make it accessible to large numbers of people.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.