by February 4, 2007 0 comments



If you don’t have any office suite installed on your computer, here are
some free online alternatives that give you similar functionality. In this
article, we’ll take you through four online office suites-Google Docs and
Spreadsheets, AJAX 13, Think Free and ZOHO Writer. You must be concerned about
the security of your documents/files when on their servers. For this, all of
them claim they are encrypted and only an authorized user with username and
password can access them or those who have been granted exclusive rights by the
owner. All these applications are
Firefox and IE friendly, except AJAX13 which supports only Firefox. These online
office suites have most of the features and tools that you would need to create
word documents, spreadsheets and presentations. The best part about these online
applications is that you can logon to their respective websites and sign up for
free to start using them. You can import/open all commonly used file extensions,
work on them and export or save them in PDF and many other formats.

Direct Hit!
Applies To:
Office Suite Users
Price: Free
USP: Try out four feature-rich online Office suites
Primary Link: docs.google.com, us.ajax13.com,
www.thinkfree.com, writer.zoho.com 
Google Keywords: Online Word Processors

Except AJAX 13, the rest can store files online to help you access them from
anywhere around the globe.

A great feature about these online applications is: after creating a document
you can publish it on the Internet for others to view. AJAX 13 lacks this
feature too. In Google Docs and Spreadsheets as well as ZOHO writer, you can
grant exclusive right to other users who can access view or edit your documents.
But keep in mind those users also need to sign up for an account if they do not
have one before accessing the files. Moreover one can post documents on blogs
like Blogger or WordPress except in AJAX 13. Multiple documents can be opened at
once in the same window in AJAX13 and ZOHO writer whereas this feature is not
there in the other two. All applications have the print preview feature where
you can preview your documents. The superscript and subscript tool is a great
addition to the online processors, which is quite helpful if someone wants to
jot down numerical values, which is common to ZOHO and ThinkFree. You can also
add hyperlinks to documents in ZOHO, ThinkFree and Google.

For us, Google Docs and Spreadsheet took the least time to open up, just 47
secs followed by AJAX 13 which took 57 secs and then came ZOHO and ThinkFree at
1 min 52 secs and 2 min 7 secs respectively. We tested all applications on a
Reliance connection at 115.2 Kbps.

ThinkFree
(www.thinkfree.com)
This is the most feature-rich online office suite of the lost, but it’s still
in a beta stage.There are two ways to edit a document in ThinkFree-‘quick
edit’ which has only basic set of tools such has font styles alignment, etc.
and ‘power edit’ which has all the tools. Creating folders is an effective
way of managing files available in ThinkFree. It consists of the three
applications-Document Editor, Spreadsheet and Presentation.

ThinkFree
Presentation
Add or hide
slides, choose color schemes or templates you want to give to your
presentation and create slideshows

Word Document Editor: Besides basic document creation and editing,
this one lets you add ClipArt, as well as images from your computer or Flikr.com
or the clipart library on ThinkFree. The online word processor comes with
horizontal as well as vertical rulers, which are less common with other online
word processors. You can also check the word count of the document, add columns,
etc.

Spreadsheet: This lets you add different types of pie and bar charts,
which are missing in the other three we checked. You can save your spreadsheet
in XLS and PDF formats. There is a ‘find and replace’ tool feature, which is
quite useful for quick search and replacement.

Presentation: Helps create fast and effective slideshows and even hide
the ones which you don’t want to show in the slide- show. You can even choose
from the default color schemes or can add your own to the already listed ones,
which are accompanied by many templates to be used in your presentation.

ThinkFree Doc Editor ThinkFree Spreadsheet
Add clipart
to your documents or check the spellings in your document with the spell
check tool
Choose from an array of charts, which you can add to the spreadsheet which is present in ThinkFree by default

Google Docs and Spreadsheets
(www.docs.google.com)
This is a two-in-one application by Google, where you can add spreadsheets to
your document with ease. It is one of the fastest loading online suites and you
have the option of just viewing the word documents or spreadsheets. Style menu
is quite useful for a quick addition of different styles to your document, which
include page spacing and headers. Of all those we checked, this adds images
fastest to an online document. You can also leave comments on the
documents/spreadsheets wit special rights or also add tags to filenames.

Google Docs & Spreadsheet
Add images to your documents with ease and choose from various styles like text formatting and page spacing

ZOHO Writer
(www.writer.zoho.com)
This application has an easy to use WYSIWYG Editor. You can choose to hide or
unhide the tools on it. The suit has 19 font types that support a maximum size
of 36 and 5 style types. Moreover, you can add multiple layers with the insert
layer tool, which is helpful while editing or creating HTML pages. You can
toggle between the normal view mode and the HTML script mode with the toggle
HTML source tool. Quick format tool is great if you want to add borders to the
document and the thickness, style, border color, border background color and
padding of the border can also be controlled. In ZOHO you can also e-mail your
word or HTML files to your account.

ZOHO Writer
Add images to your documents with ease and choose from various styles like text formatting and page spacing

AJAX 13
(www.us.ajax13.com)
It has four parts as discussed below.

AjaxWrite: Here you can do basic things like create, edit and save
word documents, add multiple tables, superscript/subscript words, align/change
fonts, and preview the document.

AjaxSketch: It is similar to MS Paint. The toolbar on the left hand
side of the screen has all the tools to add/edit shapes and text to the sketch
file. Simply create the sketch, save as SVG file and drop it into any document.
Even after resizing your sketch, it won’t get distorted and lose its
crispness.

AjaxPresents: This is a complete slide creator in which you can open
your existing PowerPoint files and edit them. Besides inserting N number of
slides you can add shapes, lines, align them and bring shapes forward or send
them back of one another in the document. You can store up to 1 GB of data.

AjaxXLS AjaxWrite
You can open your pre-created XLS files in this Web utility and just view them, as it is only a viewer You can add superscript or subscript to your documents and Web view them to see how they will look if viewed in a browser

After you have designed your slides, you can publish them on the Web by
sending request e-mail to emailpublic@publishPPT.com. You can not only
sketch/skew various shapes, but also add as many shapes to slides as you want.
Moreover, you can bring them forward or send them behind another shape.

AjaxSketch AjaxPresents
The ajaxSketch application is similar to MS Paint, but creates files in SVG format Add multiple slides and shapes as needed. You can position the slides they way you want and sketch/skew the inserted shapes

AjaxXLS: This is the application in which you can just view any
pre-created XLS file in MS Excel or similar software.

Conclusion
Online office suites are slowly gaining popularity. There are many others
available online, but so far these four are most usable.

  AJAX13 ZOHO Writer Google Docs & Spreadsheet Think Free
Sign Up: Free Free Free Free
Version: Full Full Full Full
Browser Compatibility Firefox Only Firefox & Internet Explorer Firefox & Internet Explorer Firefox & Internet Explorer
Time taken to open up @ 115.2 KPS: 57 secs 1 Min 52 secs 47 secs 2 Min 7 Secs
Number of Office applications Present Seperatly: 4 1 1 3
Can Save Data On the Net. No Yes Yes Yes
Auto Saves Data: No Yes Yes No
Can Be set to View Ducoments by others: No Yes Yes Yes
Can Be set to Edit Documents by others: No Yes Yes No
Post Documents To a Blog: No Yes Yes Yes
Can Open Multiple Documents At Once: Yes Yes No No
         
Extensions compatibility AJAX13 ZOHO Writer Google Docs & Spreadsheet Think Free
Can Open: .doc .xls .svg .ppt .html . doc .rtf .txt .odt  .txt .html .doc .rtf .odt .xls .doc .xls .ppt .html .rtf .txt
Can Save: .doc .xls .svg .ppt  .html . doc .rtf .txt .odt .pdf .html .doc .rtf .odt .pdf .doc .xls .ppt .rtf .txt .pdf
File Encryption: Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes 
SpellChek No Yes  Yes  Yes 
Print Preview Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes

Sulabh Puri

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