Google got all the press last week with its Google Spreadsheets
with Web-based collaborative features. But at the same time the man who invented the spreadsheet, Dan Bricklin, unveiled wikiCalc, his own version of a Web-based collaborative spreadsheet. Bricklin has historically been one of the most interesting minds at work in our business, and wikiCalc is a master class in the importance of getting the details right.Bricklin and Bob Frankston created Visicalc in 1979 and changed the world. The spreadsheet program made personal computers necessary in business. Bricklin has continued to work on interesting technologies and issues. He's developed programs (Dan Bricklin's Demo Program) and founded companies (Slate, Trellix and his own sandbox, Software Garden) and been a force for good in the software business for what seems like forever.
He documents much of this on his own blog, where you can find his story of wikiCalc. There's also a home page for wikiCalc on the Software Garden site and a 10-minute screencast demo of wikiCalc on the Web site of Socialtext, a company focused on wiki software that is working with Bricklin on wikiCalc.
I haven't had a chance yet to compare wikiCalc to Google Spreadsheets. My guess is that a side-by-side test would be instructive. Bricklin is a designer as well as a developer, and wikiCalc has the clean, uncluttered, useful look that I associate with his work.