Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Web apps: Are manageable expectations possible?

The people over at Virtual Ubiquity, an early-stage startup hard at work on a Web word processor, are demonstrating their baby at the Web Innovators Group event tonight, and I found their new blog while browsing the various presenters’ sites.

They say they’re “building the first real word processor for the web,” and as a longtime, fulltime user, trainer and envelope-pusher with such software, I had to leave them a comment on it. Never one to pass up a chance to “repurpose” some “content,” I thought I’d just quickly copy my comment here.

What got me going was this, from their blog (the product’s named Buzzword) --

“The development of a real word-processor - whether on the web or on a desktop - is obviously a much bigger task than just deploying a simple rich text editor. Buzzword goes beyond the basic rich formatting available in HTML or AJAX word-processors - we’re doing real-time pagination and layout, so that you will always know what your document will look like when printed. The result is what we think this is the first WYSIWYG word-processor on the web.
So I offered --
Good luck, and remember to deal sternly with Creeping Featureitis. Given that word processing has been widely used for 20 years means there are multimillions of what the clothing store Syms never fails to call “educated consumers.”

And each one of them (I’ll be as guilty as anybody, I’m sure,) will expect all their particular favorite functions to be there, and with the same keyboard shortcuts, too! When you consider how many hundreds of commands have been out there in WP, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Obviously, the biggest job will be deciding what Not to put in.

Although this is wicked-late notice, considering that it starts in four hours, the Web Innovators Group get-together is always quite the hot ticket; hosted by David Beisel of Masthead Venture Partners, it's even free. It's at the Royal Sonesta in Cambridge at 6:30 (dir's).

I wouldn't even bring it up now if it wasn't for the fact that David generally puts one on every other month, so look for the next around May.

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