IRows is an online spreadsheet, a competitor with NumSum, in other words. One of the criticisms I have always had with NumSum is that it is just so damn ugly. Not something that IRows can be accused of, which is much prettier:

IRows screenshot, thumbnail

As you can see from the crappy test sheet I created, it’s easy enough to enter data and tot columns of numbers up with a SUM function. There are a load of other functions included too, which should serve for most people’s needs in a portable spreadsheet.

File exports come in three flavours: Excel, .csv and HTML. Of these, the Excel one works fine – it keeps formatting; the .csv seems ok though it obviously loses the formatting; and the html one looks pretty good and is the only one that keeps the graphs. There is no provision though to export to which seems a shame.

IRows, then, is very easy to use, easy on the eye and features most of the functionality one might expect from an online spreadsheet. Like Writely – with which IRows has much in common, not least in its interface – it offers a useful alternative to a desktop app, especially for the casual user and for those who need to collaborate over the web on a single sheet. Unlike Writely, it isn’t (yet) owned by Google, and so I don’t have to feel guilty about using it.

So the two main parts of the traditional office suite are now online and usable. Given the plethora of calendars and webmail systems out there, it should be possible for a user with a reasonable internet connection to get by without needing to buy or install bloated office suites. The one issue remains in getting them all to talk together. This could be solved in two ways: by one large company buying up a selection of these tools and forcing them to work together exclusively; or by some open standards being developed and adhered to by all concerned. No prizes for guessing which is the most likely.