Virtual office

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1 Definition

Virtual office (currently also called office 2.0 usually refers to web 2.0 (web/ajax) based applications that can be integrated through a virtual desktop or not.

Virtual office can be:

  • An idea (the way one uses on-line services and/or office applications on the road).
  • Remote interfaces to desktop applications on a computer.
  • Browser-based on-line applications offered through the Internet (including mobile devices). This is called Office 2.0 and we will focus on this in this article. Sets of tools are also available as integrated services.
  • A collection of on-line tools (integrated or not). We list an inventory.

“Imagine a computer that never crashes, or gets infected by a virus. Imagine a computer onto which you never have to install any application. Imagine a computer that follows you wherever you go, be it at school, at work, abroad, or back home. This computer does not exist today, but it will in the future, and this future might be much closer than you think.” (Office 2.0 conference, retrieved 16:49, 26 April 2007 (MEST)).

According to Wikipedia, retrieved 11:22, 27 April 2007 (MEST), the term Office 2.0 is a marketing neologism representing the concepts of office productivity applications as published applications rather than standalone programs. The term leverages the Web 2.0 concept to conjure imagery of collaborative, community based and centralised effort rather than the more traditional application running on a platform locally. The term originated with Ismael Ghalimi in an experimental effort to test the hypothesis that it could be done today, that he could perform all of his computer based work in online applications.

There is some crossover with:

  • so-called webtops (3,350,000 hits). These are also called web 2.0 start pages (520 hits), Ajax homepages (59'800 hits) WebOS (3'270'000 hits) web desktop (276,000 hits). Google hits on 16:49, 26 April 2007 (MEST). However, for some experts, there may be subtle differences between these. E.g. a desktop that aggregates mainly social software applications may not exactly be the same as the ones that do it for office applications. A WebOS adds extra functionality such as a central file storage and permission system
  • social software, since many office 2.0 components are inherently "social", e.g. a online wordprocessor application may let you co-edit with people you authorize and share contents with a community at large.

2 How to build a office 2.0 page or website ?

There may be several solutions:

  • Rely on some webtop (webOS)
  • Integrate applications with web widgets.
  • To it yourself with some JS programming.

2.1 The Ghalimi experiment

Ismael Ghalimi (2006) outlines the following rule for an application to be called "Office 2.0": no client-side application should be required, collaborative content development & publishing should be supported, and every bit of the solution should be available from at least two independent sources. This statement is based on a longer feature list that we summarize:

  • No client application other than a web browser
  • Compatibility with the most popular web browsers
  • No browser extension or plugin
  • Collaboration features are good
  • Syndication is the way to go
  • Competition brings alternatives
  • Data import/export is mandatory

In his How To Build a Website with Office 2.0 he then shows how to build one that adopts the following constraints:

  • No client application other than a web browser
  • Collaborative content development & publishing
  • No single-source component
  • Minimum coding requirements
  • No more than 5 man-days worth of work
  • Less then $25 a month to host

Components used were:

2.2 The Hinchcliffe model

Interestingly, Hinchcliffe (2006), bases his model mainly on blogs and wikis, but using them for different purposes (applications as platforms).

“ Blogs and wikis are an excellent starting point for creating Web 2.0 applications because they are already the most basic models for capturing and sharing content. This is a large part of the reason why they have become so popular; by lowering the barrier to user contributions by offering simple usage models (usually just an input field or two and an edit/save button). As they become more popular, blogs and wikis also form a fundamental common reference model.” ([1], retrieved 16:49, 26 April 2007 (MEST).

3 Components of "Office 2.0"

NOTICE: I started a separate list in list of web 2.0 applications to centralize most web 2.0 end-user applications. Once it's done, I will kill things below

Cut/pasted from Carpe Noctum (dwebb68), retrieved 16:49, 26 April2007 (MEST) (with a few modifications by Daniel K. Schneider, without asking for permission.). Alternatively check outAlexander Hayes list.

This list is not meant to be exhaustive. Also, follow up links.

Bookmarks (social bookmarking)

del.icio.us, BlinkList, BlogMarks, Blue Dot, Clipmarks, Cogenz, ConnectBeam, Diigo, Furl, Google Bookmarks, listal, LookLater, ma.gnolia, Netvouz, Raw Sugar, Simpy, Spurl, Yahoo! My Web, zurpy.

Calendar

Google Calendar, 30 Boxes, CalendarHub, Epointment, HipCal, Jotlet, Kiko, Planzo, Scrybe, Spongecell, TimeBridge, Trumba, vivapop.

Contacts

LinkedIn, OpenBC, Plaxo, Plugoo.

CRM

SugarCRM, Relenta CRM, Salesboom, Salesforce.com.

Database

Dabble DB, Caspio Bridge, eUnifyDB, Google Base, Lazybase, MyOwnDB, QuickBase, Zoho Creator.

Desktop (webtops), also called mashups.

Google Homepage, Clic!Dev, Computadora, Desktoptwo, eskobo, eyeOS, Favoor, HomePortals, NetVibes, Nowsy, ORCA Desktop, Pageflakes, Protopage, Windows Live, YouOS, YourMinis, Zimbio, XIN

Email

Gmail, Hotmail, Mailroom, Simdesk, Webmail.us, Yahoo! Mail, Zimbra Collaboration Suite.

Feed Reader (news feed aggregators)

Google Reader, Bloglines, FeedLounge, Feeds 2.0, NewsAlloy, NewsGator, Newshutch, Rojo, Wizag.

Operating System

Zoho Virtual Office, Firestoker, goowy, Joyent, Nsite.

Presentation

Zoho Show, AJAX-S, Empressr, fliptrack, gOFFICE Presentations, Preezo, S5, Scooch, Slide, Slideshare, Spresent, ThinkFree Show, Thumbstacks.

Spreadsheets

Zoho Sheet, ajaxXLS, EditGrid, gOFFICE Spreadsheets, Google Spreadsheets, iRows, Num Sum, Sheester, ThinkFree Calc, wikiCalc.

Weblog (blogs)

WordPress, Blogger, Blogtronix, TypePad.

Word Processor

oho Writer, ajaxWrite, gOFFICE Word Processing, iNetWord, RallyPoint, ThinkFree Write, Writeboard, Writely.

Calculator

Google Calculator, Calcoolate, Instacalc.

Drawing

Gliffy, ajaxSketch, Cumulate Draw, Imagination Cubed, LiThA-Paint.

Fax

eFax, InterFax, TrustFax, and more.

File Sender

YouSendIt, Approver.com, DropLoad, DropSend, Krunch, MailBigFile, Gigafile.

Group Manager

CollectiveX, AirSet, BlueTie, Central Desktop, eloops.com, Foldera, GroupLoop, GroupSharp, HiveLive, TeamWork Live, Todoz, WebEx WebOffice.

Notepad

Gmail, Fleck, Google Notebook, Helipad, Magnoto, Posticky.com, shortText.com, SnapBits, SNIPPit, StickyTag, stikkit, Workspace, Wridea.

Photo Editing

PXN8, Phixr, Pixer, Snipshot, and more.

Photo Manager

Flickr, 23, AllYouCanUpload, Riya, SmugMug, Zenfolio, Zoto.

Clipboard

cl1p

Command Prompt

YubNub, JS/UIX.

Desktop Publishing

gOFFICE Desktop Publishing

Development Tool

Ning, Coghead, Dapper, Mashery, Morfik, Pingdom.

Document Manager

EchoSign, Alfresco, Blinksale, FreshBooks, Koral, ShareMethods.

Expense Tracker

foonance, billQ, ClearCheckbook, Mvelopes, OneStatement.

Feed Processor

Feed Digest, FeedBlitz, FeedBurner, Feeds2Be, SocialMail, Spanning Salesforce, Teleflip.

File Manager

fluxiom, Backpack, Box.net, Omnidrive, Openomy, Streamload, Strongspace, Xmail Hard Drive.

File Server

S3

Form Designer

Wufoo, FormLogix, FormSpring, Icebrrg, jotForm, Sidewalk, Sidewalk, The Form Assembly.

Instant Messenger (instant messaging)

Meebo, Campfire, eBuddy.com, Gabbly, JumpChat, Kool IM, Lingr, Mabber, MSN Web Messenger, Wablet.

Mind Mapper (concpet maps)

Mayomi

Music Player

MP3tunes, ajaxTunes, Jinzora, last.fm, Pandora, Streampad.

Outliner

iOutliner, iJot, Listigator, ListPool, Nelements, SproutLiner.

Personal Organizer

Zoho Planner, Athyrium, MyTicklerFile, SynapseLife, Tracks, TracksLife, voo2do.

Polls

Zoho Polls, dPolls, PollGenius, PollPub.com, QuestionForm.

Printer

Kinko's, Big Blue Saw, Lulu.

Project
(project management software, collaborative planning software)

Zoho Project, 1time, Basecamp, Confluence, Devshop, DreamTeam, ProjectPipe, ProWorkflow, ProWorkflow.com, Side Job Track, teamwork.

Scanner

scanR, Mytago.

Sound Mixer

RAZZ Mixer

Task Manager
(project management software, collaborative planning software)

Ta-da Lists, Bla-bla List, e2doList, iPrioritize, Joe's Goals, Orchestrate, Remember The Milk, Rough Underbelly, TaskFreak!, TaskTHIS, tasktoy, Toodledo, Tudu Lists, Wallnote,Remember the milk

Time Tracking

Tick, 14Dayz, Beeplet, Harvest, minutes in a minute, SlimTimer, Time Tracker, Time59, Toggl.

Utilities

Timeline, emurse, FiveRuns, MyOpenID, Naymz, simplifid, Zamzar.

Video Editing

Jumpcut, eyespot.

Voicemail

SpinVox, Aptela, GotVoice, Odeo.

Web Conferencing

Vyew, Webex, GoToMeeting

Web Publishing

Google Pages, Blockstar, Freewebs, Office Live, SiteKreator, Socialtext, Synthasite, Weebly, Weebly, Wetpaint.

4 In education

Virtual offices, either as systems or as a set of components could be become the principal components of personal learning environments (PLEs).

Some propaganda in favor
  • it's free
  • doesn't need any administration
  • teachers don't have to bother with adminstrative red tape
Against
  • Can you trust these services to stay alive ?
  • Slow speed and download size of sometimes huge JavaScript libraries

5 Links and References

5.1 Office 2.0 lists and databases

5.2 Introductions

  • Descy, Don E., (2007). Browser-based Online Applications: Something for Everyone!, TechTrends 1, Number 2 / March, 2007. 10.1007/s11528-007-0014-z PDF.
  • Ghalimi, Ismael, Office 2.0, IT|Redux index of overview articles, HTML, retrieved 16:49, 26 April 2007 (MEST).
  • Ghalimi, Ismael (2006), How To Build a Website with Office 2.0, IT|Redux, [2], retrieved 16:49, 26 April 2007 (MEST).
  • Hayes, Alexander, A Web Office Toolkit HTML, retrieved 16:49, 26 April 2007 (MEST). (a large list).
  • Hinchcliffe, Dion, Blogs, wikis, and Web 2.0 as the next application platform, ZDNet article, HTML, retrieved 16:49, 26 April 2007 (MEST)
  • Molina, Pablo G. and the 2006 EDUCAUSE Evolving Technologies Committee, Pioneering New Territory and Technologies, EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 41, no. 5 (September/October 2006): 112-35 HTML/PDF