WordPerfect Lightning, the beta Web/desktop hybrid "content aggregator" launched by Corel in late February, will announce tomorrow morning an integration with popular blog platform Wordpress. There will also be new features added to the product itself.
Corel is best known for its set of budget office applications, such as WordPerfect, Paint Shop Pro and CorelDraw. Earlier this year it branched into web-connected apps, with the release of WordPerfect Lightning - a desktop word processor/notes tool (20MB download) that allows for content collaboration over the Web. Essentially WordPerfect Lightning consists of four components: the Navigator, the Viewer, Lightning Notes, and the Connector. As explained in a press release in February:
"The Navigator is a central repository for the assembly and organization of content. The Viewer is an all-in-one document reading tool for the fast and simple viewing of documents in Microsoft Word, Adobe PDF, or Corel WordPerfect file formats. Lightning Notes is a lightweight word processor and note taking utility that acts as a universal container for ideas, information and images.
The Connector, powered by Joyent (www.joyent.com), is a suite of Web-based applications for teams and small businesses that provides individual users with email, calendars, address books and file storage. These functions are hosted on the Web, enabling team members to share information and collaborate on projects. Users receive 200MB of free online storage, plus shared calendaring, contacts and e-mail functionality."
Also see ZDNet's David Berlind's review from February when it was launched. He summed it up as follows:
"...a note assembler that can take original content that you plug-in or content from Microsoft Word, Wordperfect Office, PDF-formatted documents, or the Web, and remix them together in a lightweight fashion that allows you to not only share the final document locally, but also to an Internet-based document sharing service where (a) you can get at it from another computer running Lightning or (b) someone else you are collaborating with can get at it as well."
Corel told Read/WriteWeb that "tens of thousands of people" have downloaded and tried WordPerfect Lightning so far. The impending update (which goes live tomorrow morning) will add integration with WordPress, enabling users to repurpose content for their blogs. Corel told us that with Wordpress' open SDK and strong support for images, it makes it easy for Lightning users to blog information they've collected.
In terms of product upgrades, there will be a slick new 'drag and drop' feature allowing users to easily add Web page content (images, text, etc) to their notes. Corel thinks this feature will eliminate "the cumbersome process of cutting and pasting" - this has been one of the most requested features by the Lightning community during the beta. Corel is also adding support for a wide variety of image formats in Lightning notes, making it better for managing graphics and photos.
Finally, WordPerfect Lightning Online Services (a.k.a. the Connector) has added support for VoIP service JAJAH. This enables free and long distance calls over regular phones for subscribers.
Check out the Lightning blog tomorrow morning for a full list of new features.
Corel's Web Office Vision
Corel's long term vision for WordPerfect Lightning is for it to be "a one-stop access point for all your information - someplace where you can perform 80-90% of your most common productivity tasks." But for that to occur, it would pretty much need to replace email. Because that is where office people still do most of their productivity work (even though we know we shouldn't!). But certainly the already extensive functionality in WordPerfect Lightning is a good start towards that lofty 80-90% goal.
It's great to see some of the more traditional productivity software companies like Corel embracing web-based functionality. This is the kind of thing that Microsoft Office will evolve towards, over time - a web-based desktop app that enables collaboration, content aggregation from over the Web, integration with blog platforms, Ajax-like UI features, and other web native functionality. It's a wonder Microsoft hasn't yet come out with a product like WordPerfect Lightning. It leaves the door ajar for Corel to build up an impressive web/desktop productivity suite and possibly, over time, grab some of Microsoft's customers.
Lightning Navigator and Notes