Dan Bricklin's VisiCalc spreadsheet program changed the way people thought about computers and how they applied to business.On this day 30 years ago,
Bricklin remains a leader in the field and on this anniversary date is seeing his SocialCalc technology come out of beta and become a fully developed product from Socialtext, the company he has collaborated with since 2006.
The news coincides with the Microsoft announcement that Sharepoint 2010 provides the the capability to co-edit Excel documents.
SocialCalc is a social spreadsheet designed for distributed teams. Typically, companies using Excel have had to save their versions and email the document to other members of the team. Each time an update is made, a new version of the document is created.
SocialCalc provides the ability for users to collaborate across a number of spreadsheets. Users may do this in conjunction with the wiki-based Socialtext Workspace, and Socialtext Signals, their microblogging platform.
Sharepoint will offer a co-editing feature through its integration with Office 2010. In a demo from the Sharepoint conference in Las Vegas, the Microsoft team showed how multiple people can edit an Excel document simultaneously. It is still not entirely clear how rich this feature set is in comparison to products from Google, eXpresso and EditGrid. Both eXpresso and EditGrid are stand alone applications.
In comparison, Google's spreadsheet product is as close as it gets to the Socialtext offering but lacks SocialCalc's ability to keep track of revision histories.
Bernard Lunn wrote last week that Google is missing the boat by not focusing on the spreadsheet market. Microsoft has not put tremendous energies into making its Excel spreadsheets more collaborative but it appears it is also a notch behind what Socialtext offers.
According to Socialtext, SocialCalc is immediately available for trial and for current customers in the October Appliance release. It costs $3 per user per month. New customers who purchase the full Socialtext platform in 2009 get SocialCalc without charge for 2010. Current customers that participated in the beta program get SocialCalc without charge for 2009.