Having looked hard at Google Spreadheets and some other online spreadsheets, I have had an interesting idea about what would make them useful and take advantage of their webbiness. It requires three new (but simple) features:
- Cell level protection so the author can make some cells editable but not others. Cell hiding would also help here.
- The ability to embed spreadsheets into other pages (like YouTube does with video).
- Real time in-cell search. For example you could have a formula =price(“amzn”) and it would get you the share price or =temperature(“Heathrow”) and it would get the you the weather. That sort of thing. People could develop their own addins.
With the addition of these features online spreadsheets would stop being dancing monkeys (it’s not that they dance well, it’s just impressive they dance at all) and become genuinely useful, easy-to-use web application development tools.
For example, a company could create a loan amortization spreadsheet and embed it on a personal finance site or a flying club could create a weight and balance spreadsheet for a plane and embed it on their site (this is something I did once).
Am I crazy or what? What else is missing from online spreadsheets?