Forecast: Ajax Office available in less than one year

My little forecast: I think that in less than one year there will be a Suite Office usable “inside” your browser, entirely written in Javascript and , using the DOM model of XHTML.

UPDATE: AjaxOffice is now on sourceforge.

UPDATE My office mate told me that there are already many Free Software HTML text editors such as FckEditor, TinyMCE (longer list at HTMLArea). So I guess we just need Google (or Yahoo!) to provide the service and the possibility to store files on their disks. END OF UPDATE

Many usable pieces are already there (usually as Free Software javascript libraries): toolbar, menubar, drag-and-drop, edit-in-place, window, resize images.
What is peculiar is that
– writing this suite is not too complicated
– there are so many people (thousands or more) with enough skills for easily doing it
Using “release early, release often” phylosophy and a Free Software licence (such as GPL), we could have a big number of hackers working all together at the “Ajax Office”, adding functionalities, correcting bugs, …
You can easily imagine that having a reliable Office Suite that works inside your browser is a great opportunity for normal users (who will need Microsoft Office? but also OpenOffice…).
But you can also imagine having Google (or Yahoo! or another big player) offering the Ajax Office interface AND the ability to keep your files on their disks and access/modify/print them from every computer in the world just via a browser. And not having to bother with backups. Similar to what happens now with Gmail (almost infinite storage for your emails and the ability to access it via any computer just with a browser). Jeremy already thinks that Gmail is faster and better than Thunderbird (desktop email program). I think one of its next posts will be “Ajax Office (or Goffice) is better than Microsoft Office (and OpenOffice)”. [Oh yes, there are huge privacy issues.]
Anyway that would be killer! A totally new way to use computers and the web. And I want to see Microsoft shares that day! I’m just dreaming or is it a reasonable forecast? My bet is for the second. So, I see you here in less than one year.

21 thoughts on “Forecast: Ajax Office available in less than one year

  1. Napo

    Ok! Mi hai convinto: da domani comincio a vedere come fare uno spreadsheet in javascript.
    Ok! From tommorow i start to write a a spreadsheet in javascript.
    Do you can help me?

  2. paolo

    I think Google and Yahoo! are running in order to arrive there first. So I think it will happen soon, very soon. As you see in the UPDATE I inserted in the post, the software is already there, Google (or Yahoo!) has just to write some backend code: record the documents every user is editing, basically.
    Concurrency is a good thing! Microsoft, the big monopolist, has no incentives in doing it. Google, Yahoo! and possibly also IBM, HP, etc have a lot of incentives.

    At least do you agree with me that Microsoft shares will go near 0 when this service is announced? I think that everyone will use it in less than one month or you think people will keep using their desktop Suite Office?

  3. marco

    I do not think that ajax office will blow up every other Office suite right from the beginning. For instance, Gmail did not blow up for the time being other web-based email services, although it is a pretty good application that made me switching back to web-based email and leaving Thunderbird. People lazyness will be quite a factor in this mass migration, and you should consider that not everyone has broadband access to the Internet. Ajax Office will surely build up a user base, but IMO not as fast as you suggest.
    Now let’s first wait for Ajax Office to show up :)

  4. paolo

    Yes, you are right. I wrote the comment but I was not believing it myself. And, of course as you say, not everyone has broadband connection (but she will, maybe in 10 years but she will).

    Ok, let’s wait (… or maybe let’s create it, no? I’m bored to just wait some US company to create the next cool service…)

  5. marco

    Good idea, it might be a project to start as soon as I arrive in Trento.
    Should we start ?
    Well, just joking, my programming skills are way below what is required for such a task.
    Do you know of any FLOSS project working on this ?

  6. Gabriel

    Have you ever tried to use FCKEditor für more than casual bold-and-italic formatting? I can say from my personal experience that it has a long way to go until it supports applicable styles for paragraphs as good as a simple word processor like WordPad or TextEdit.

  7. Sam Schillace

    I agree that this is coming. And I agree that it will take a while. We’re doing a word processor on the web:

    It’s both easier and harder than it seems to do this on the web. Easier because you can be iterative and you can carve out smaller parts of the problem. Harder, because it’s hard to get really good usability out of an Ajax app, unless you pay a lot of attention.

    I think the most interesting part of this is not to do the big, bloated, heavy office suite that MS has done, but to do lots of little, light, focused, easy to use apps (Backpack, Basecamp, Writely :) that can share data, be always around, etc.

    Give us a try if you like, I’d love to hear what people think.

  8. Pingback: 秋元@サイボウズ研究所プログラマーBlog

  9. Pingback: 秋元@サイボウズ研究所プログラマーBlog

  10. Tim

    You know, although AJAXOffice would be great as part of a Yahoo! or Google or Hotmail, (Pick of the litter really.),

    it would also be extremely useful as an offline portable office, imagine having a complete office suite with perhaps even an Ajax IM client and Email Program stored on a USB stick. Platform independant and quick. (Possibly safe too, a folder on the stick stores everything that is created / edited.)

    What do people think?

    My second comment is that symphonyos, a linux distro (you can find it at ), uses a rather uniqe desktop system. (To be precise, JAX amongst other things will be part of the desktop and the OS.)

    Therefore adding an AJAX office Suite would be rather benificial to the project as it would most likely make it quite a bit more lightweight. (And I would use it. Hehe.) Just a thought.

    Anyway, A cool idea, hope it’s manifested soon, I’d use it if it could be run easily offline. (Basicly platform independant workstation on a USB stick = heaven for the writer.)


    PS: Once this is made and localisation becomes a reality, sign me up for norwegian translations.

  11. Anonymous

    If someone needs to tell you about the existence of HTMLArea, TinyMCE and FCKEditor … then you should increment that planning of yours with another 2 years.

    Which leads to, how did you make up the one year planning. Or did you just needed some attention.

  12. paolo

    Tim, it seems that there is already an Ajax IM (Instant Messagging)

    jax im (“asynchronous javascript and xml instant messenger”) is a browser-based instant messaging client. It uses the XMLHTTPRequest object in JavaScript to send and receive commands to and from the server. No refreshing of the page is ever needed for this “web application” to work, as everything is updated in real-time via JavaScript.

    demo at

    and yes, check

  13. Tim

    Paolo: Yes, I was aware of the Ajax IM project. Just thought it fitted the part in the puzzle. :)


  14. Mike

    I think you should remove the ajax office SF page. It is not a ‘project in progress’, it’s just a bunch of links with an exceedingly ugly logo. Either start coding or step down. That page is just a bunch of hot air right now. Why did you register it? Do you want to take credit for ‘coming up’ with the idea? Yeah, like a million AJAX guys haven’t thought the same thing. Again: start coding or STEP DOWN.

    Also, you must be aware of Zimbra:

  15. paolo

    ok, mike (not at home dot nl). i received some emails of people that are willing to be involved in the project. I will see in short if they have the energy to carry on the project and, if not, i’ll shut down the project.

  16. Tom

    A web browser based office (under GPL or similar) will change the world.
    Most of its out there already so DONT FORGET TO PLAGIARISE!
    But have a look at fckeditor – does it really need to be AJAX?
    Cuyahoga ( like a good place to start – thats ‘word’/web site sorted

    Mix that in with Zimbra (not really sure what that license is all about) and thats e-mail sorted
    XL – theres a few JS
    I’ve a lot of ideas on this and would like to get involved but my next child is due today so I might be busy!

  17. Ben Tremblay

    The nae-sayers (“Start coding or step down”) have their points. I see questions of design that a clever high-school student would have answers to, and remind myself to value good questions; I see people posting replies in the email list outside the thread and wondering what they know about threading but remind myself that most folk don’t answer at all; I see folk talking about an AJAX project and suggesting that Java would be the more appropriate language … and in the end I wonder, after having been so often turned off by the bunch of shysters who’ve made IT what it’s thought to be … how is it that this bunch of individuals have dared take this on?

    When someone wants to fork a conversation into the realm of tantra and group dynamics I’ll follow this. For the moment I need to ponder if this culture of sophists has killed off everyone with the spine to do MIL-SPEC docs.

    “Youth is wasted on the young” might be true … I can only say that it isn’t always a waste.

    best of the season to everyone


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *