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Random Thoughts Sam
9.21.2005 [] - Permalink

Well, we've been getting more and more feedback from folks. Most of it very positive, which is great. Steve and I talked about what all of this means, what Writely is. Is it real? Is it a toy? (well, if we are, in the words of Woody from Toy Story "You're a cool toy!").

I think this is very real. Now that we've looked harder at this space, and watched what people are doing, I think that Writely really does represent the first of a new kind of application - desktop apps re-invented for the web. Specifically, we're something between email and desktop publishing. More importantly, I think this, and the other Web2.0 apps, are really here to stay.


Because they really are better. They really make things easier to do, in a persistent, fundamental way. One analogy is web mail - it was inevitable that it would take over a lot of (not all of, but a lot of) the email market because it was better - easier for some things, and with the benefit of universal access.

I think Writely is much the same, with even more benefits. I call it the "three A's": Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime. Obvious to those who live and breathe the net, but valuable none the less. I think as users get used to the idea of Word processing on the web, the questions will be less "why would I create this document there?" and more "why wouldn't I?" And I think we're going to work hard to make it easier and easier to do this - more entry points, more apis, more features in the editor, more document types (like spreadsheets), more and more and more polish.

Speaking of API, that's the other ramble for tonight. I've been thinking of the structure for the API. I think we're going to go with a very simple to deal with XML format over HTTP, with an option to get the output in JSON format as well.

The API will be pretty simple. There are only three verbs: GET, PUT, and POST. And maybe just GET and PUT. The nouns are documents, revisions, contacts and assets. Each API call will have a "basis set" of things to operate on (which might be one document or user, or all of them, or some subset), a simple filter stack to filter from that basis (like "all documents where user is sam@writely.com"), and then an optional set of fields. So a query would look something like: (sorry for the square brackets - pretend they're angle - I can't get blogger to do entity encoding)


[basis]some id[/BASIS]
[field name="title"]
[field name="tags"]

That would return the title and tags from the document who's id was passed. (This request has no filter stack)

The response would look like:

[field name=""]
[result][field name=""]the document title[/field]
[field name=""]the document tags, comma separated[/field]


[failure]unknown document id[/failure]

Comments are welcome - this is all preliminary.

very interesting!
I'm looking forward to the API!

Yes, a spreadsheet would also be nice (Spreadly?!). Are you planning to build an entire office suite? That would be very interesting...

Pete Cashmore
Hi, I've tried downloading Writely, but to no avail. I do not see it written anywhere specifically that the program won't open/run on a MAC, but I'm assuming this is true...(windows only). Will that change in the future?
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ricia: Writely isn't a client-side app. It's exactly the opposite. The entire process is on the server itself. That's the beauty of being able to connect to and edit (alone or collaboratively) your documents from pretty much any computer in the world.

P.S. Writely folks, That's some interesting comment spam there. Not surprising now that these text CAPTCHAs are two steps from useless.

We're looking at the suite business (we have suitely.com).

As I've said elsewhere, it's not about copying Office, it's about putting together a set of features that is compelling in this context. We've heard a lot about simple spreadsheets, so we'll probably do that soon.
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