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The topics discussed here grow out of the bread-and-butter issues that confront my consulting and software clients on a daily basis. We'll talk about prosaic stuff like Membership Management, Meetings and Events Management and Fundraising, broader ideas like security and software project management, and the social, cultural, and organizational issues that impact IT decision-making.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

When Worlds Collide

The latest ideas on collaborative software tools, AJAX web applications, and that mainstay of bread-and-butter business apps, the spreadsheet, are coming together in wikiCalc, a new application being developed by my old dormmate and VisiCalc originator, Dan Bricklin.

Considering Dan invented the entire idea of the electronic spreadsheet as we know it, we'd be fools not be interested. The history, as Wikipedia explains it, goes like this.
The generally recognized inventor of the spreadsheet is Dan Bricklin. Bricklin has spoken of watching his university professor create a table of calculation results on a blackboard. When the professor found an error, he had to tediously erase and rewrite a number of sequential entries in the table, triggering Bricklin to think that he could replicate the process on a computer, using the blackboard as the model to view results of underlying formulas. His idea became VisiCalc, the first application that turned the personal computer from a hobby for computer enthusiasts into a business tool.
You can download the wikiCalc program, and find links to other relevant info, at the AlphaTest Homepage on Dan's company website. It's being provided under the GPL License. And his link on the architecture of the application will be interesting to the technically minded. In particular it describes his solution for allowing simultaneous multiuser access to the sheets.

The current version is fairly limited, but it certainly gives you a sense of the editing style, and the overall intent of the project. Take a look.
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