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Wiki Developer Debuts Competition For Microsoft Excel

JotSpot takes wikis, or collaborative Web sites, a step further by offering menu-driven page editing as an alternative to markup languages. The result with its new software is surprisingly simple spreadsheet collaboration.

Yet another Microsoft Office application faces competition from an online-software service provider.

JotSpot, a company out of Palo Alto, Calif., that specializes in wiki software, today released a beta version of JotSpot Tracker, a scaled-down online spreadsheet designed for collaborative use.

A wiki is a collaborative Web site that lets people within a group both view and edit content. JotSpot takes wikis a step further by offering menu-driven page editing as an alternative to markup languages. The result with its new software is surprisingly simple spreadsheet collaboration.

JotSpot offers wiki applications, or niche applications to be used for wikis that are tuned to specific tasks and uses. Wikis focused on project management, customer-relationship management, human resources, and other business areas have been developed atop the JotSpot platform.

These online programs also can be customized to some degree, putting JotSpot's software in a space between mass market applications and custom-coded software, without the inflexibility of the former or the expense of the latter.

Joe Kraus, CEO and co-founder of JotSpot, suggests that anyone who has ever had to E-mail an Excel spreadsheet might appreciate JotSpot Tracker as an alternative.

While JotSpot Tracker can import Excel spreadsheets, it doesn't match all of Excel's features. It does, however, offer some distinct advantages. Data in spreadsheet cells can be transformed or combined with other data or online services with a single click. For instance, JotSpot Tracker offers a map view that plots addresses in a spreadsheet on a Google Map. There's also a calendar view that presents dates in cells as calendar entries. And JotSpot offers APIs so that developers can extend the software as they see fit.

JotSpot Tracker comes in two plans: free and $9.95 per month. The free plan offers two trackers, or spreadsheets, and the owner can invite up to five users to share access. The paid plan lets you create up to ten trackers that can be shared with an unlimited number of users.

The current version of JotSpot Tracker doesn't support formulas, but Kraus says an update next month should address that. The beta test period is slated to end later in Q1, 2006.

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