Jan 30, 2007

[The Web] My Favorite Online Services

In this interesting Web 2.0 age that we live in, a lot of services are becoming more and more user-focused and dynamic. We're also seen a lot of developers move towards developing online applications that don't require files to be installed on your computers to work. While I have to admit I'm still exploring the full range of such web-based services, here are the ones that stand out for me:
  1. GMail - this remains to be one of the best web-based email services out there primarily because of its interaction with other Google products. While some would argue that the UI for services like Yahoo! Mail beta and others is better, I've come to appreciate GMail's cleaner look. Throw in the ever-increasing storage capacity and the interconnections with other services like Google Calendar and Google Docs & Spreadsheets makes this a definite win for me. Oh, and I did forget to mention you can chat through GMail as well?
  2. Preloadr - this is a great online photo editor for users of Flickr, the ever-popular photo sharing site purchased by Yahoo! It works seamless with Flickr once you enable permissions and you can upload and edit your photos that you host on Flickr.
  3. Google Calendar - Google's online calendar tool is great for most users. It's fairly easy to use and the UI has that classic clean Google look to it that helps keeps things running fairly lightly. As with all other Google products, the lack of solid technical support apart from the Google Groups forums does get in the way at times but on the whole it's a pretty solid product.
  4. Google Docs & Spreadsheets - What a lot of people believe to be the beginnings of "Google Office," Docs & Spreadsheets is a great set of online applications that handle basic desktop publishing and spreadsheet creation. Between the two, the document program (formerly Writely) is the more solid application with a great UI and intuitive controls. Spreadsheets is still somewhat lacking in the feature department especially when it comes to more advanced formulas and perhaps #1 on everyone's wishlists - charting. Despite these limitations, the two tools are great for the average user wanting to venture into more collaborative projects.
  5. Google Reader - I know, this is beginning to sound like one long Google advertisement, but you have to admit they're one of the few companies really exploring this area of Web 2.0 development. Google Reader is another online tool, this time best for viewing RSS feeds anywhere. While some might argue that they prefer using the tools with browsers like Firefox or IE 7 or other such tools but I like Google Reader because of its mobility. I'm not tied to a single PC in terms of viewing my RSS feeds - perfect for viewing them at home or at work using a single list. The recent addition of Google Reader Trends adds extra amusement in managing one's feeds.
  6. Gliffy - rounding up the list is Gliffy, an online charting tool similar to MS Visio. It's a bit clunky in terms of its icons and flowcharting symbols which appear a bit cartoonish but on the whole it's a pretty solid application that meets the requirements for basic process documentation and flowchart generation. The collaboration feature is a great bonus which is fast becoming something we're all accustomed to in these Web 2.0 times.

Whether you agree with the list or not, all of these tools are worth a shot in case you're interested in exploring the realm of online applications.

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