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  1. #1
    get into it! bigduke's Avatar
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    Exclamation Web based office suite ...

    Here's the big idea, provide centralised remote storage and auto backup to a web based office suite. Suite contains standard set of applications
    1. Word processor
    2. Spreadsheet app
    3. Presentation app


    Now I know what you're thinking, "we just came through that dumb terminal concept door, this guy wants us to walk back through it?" Well coming to think of it this isn't a dumb terminal with mainframe concept, this is a thin client architecture, if you can have a dreamweaver type site engine (DigiLite : google for it), you might as well have an office suite as well.
    The application will evolve over time, doesnt have to be a ready-to-use-fully-loaded app.

    Proposed Tools:
    1. For the interface, I've thought of using java or maybe XUL (so that the page doesnt keep refreshing upon making changes)
    2. Storage : MySQL should do the work, however for an enterprise solution Oracle should be better.
    3. Security : well since its going to be open source, the code is open to all. As for the data transfer, ssl or maybe client side encryption would be best suited (ssl's kinda slow though, not that client side encryption is any faster)
    4. business layer and data access layer to be done in php (raw power)


    Thats all I have thought of so far.

    Users:
    1. Small offices unable to bear the licensce expenses of Microsoft or Staroffice (no offence to either)
    2. eOffices with telecommuting as the only mode of interaction and working.


    Application to be deployed over LAN or high speed net conn for best results.

    Does anyone find this interesting? Would anyone like to work on this? Could some senior developer comment on this and point out the flaws and pitfalls?

    Please keep your comments flowing in.
    Thank you!
    Last edited by bigduke; Nov 18, 2004 at 15:02.

  2. #2
    SitePoint Guru OfficeOfTheLaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigduke




    1. Small offices unable to bear the licensce expenses of Microsoft or Openoffice (no offence to either)
    Unable to bear the license expense of open office?

  3. #3
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    Maybe he confused OpenOffice with StarOffice... They are basically the same package but the later is not Open Source and provides additional functionality.

    As for his #2 reason, this is why we have email and Virtual Private Networks.

    I don't think that PHP is a suitable environment for what you want to do as it relies on HTML presentation and a web browser. Those two factors will severely limit what you can do. Use a different technology on the backend and you might have a shot.
    Wayne Luke
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  4. #4
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    What do you mean by PHP limiting the package scope? By that do you mean that is difficult to run PHP from the desktop for example, or do you believe that PHP isn't up to the task of this project?

    If the later point (PHP not being up to the task) I think you'd be suprised at what PHP is capable of doing

    Maybe you could explain your reasoning some more?

  5. #5
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    As a web-based delivery system is proposed, I do not think that an interface comparable to Open Office or Microsoft Office is possible nor do I think the usability would be up to the standards of a system needed in a business environment.
    Wayne Luke
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  6. #6
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    I see, I had an idea that it'd be something like this just wasn't sure that is all Do remember though that the technology is not just limited to the Internet.

    There is a beta application available for windows OS (for the moment) that gives far better tools for scripting desktop components based around PHP. Going to dig around for the URL which I'll post later, but it opens up some interesting prospects for PHP.

    You can run Java applications from the desktop easily yes? You (now) have better options for creating the UI via Swing for example, but I think that this is also capable with using this (open source btw) application easily, visually far more pleasing than GTK in my view as well.

    From what I can remember there was no browser in sight either

    Edit

    Here is the Url http://winbinder.sourceforge.net/ and I've attached an image from the website it's self.

    I'm following the progress of this as it looks like it could actually be used for something interesting in the near future
    Attached Images Attached Images

  7. #7
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    And how would you allow the interface for complex documents? i.e. A presentation that contains a graph that comes from a spreadsheet program? What about large documents which use multimedia? I have 10 and 15 Megabyte word documents on my PC. They would be much larger if the images had to be embedded in the document.

    A Java interface for complex office applications has been attemted by two companies. The first, Corel, was simply trying to create a cross-platform version of WordPerfect and its associated programs and they abandoned it as it was not responsive or capable of full functionality. The second Company was Sun (the maker's of Java). They abandoned their own project for the same reasons and eventually developed StarOffice as tradition C++ applications with basic Java Scripting capabilities.

    XUL is less capable than Java. The program you linked to above (WinBind) is designed to run PHP applications on the Client Computer not as a Web-based delivery system. Might be possible but how fast will it really be when web-delivery is factored in when you have to worry about transfer rates, security layers, network inavailability and storage redundancy?
    Wayne Luke
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  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy kyberfabrikken's Avatar
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    well ... really - why reinvent the wheel ? using a opensource office-suite like openoffice, coupled with a network-based filesystem should pretty much give you what you have described. ofcourse you'll need to install binaries on the clients, but apart from that ...

  9. #9
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    Might be possible but how fast will it really be when web-delivery is factored in when you have to worry about transfer rates, security layers, network inavailability and storage redundancy?
    You have a point though what I've suggested is one possibility surely? WinBinder is still in development and may even support features that you require.

    How quickly it executes will have to be seen of course, but I wouldn't disregard this. What issues you may have with WinBinder, you'd also have with PHP GTK as well I'd think as an example.

    If PHP then isn't suitable why start the thread in a PHP forum?

  10. #10
    Currently Occupied; Till Sunda Andrew-J2000's Avatar
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    Interesting stuff Wayne, anyway you can always wait till 2006 when Office 12 is released Also, have you ever looked at SharePoint services for a form of collaboration? (not exactly free)

    New Microsoft Office Servers on the Way: Has anyone got anymore information about this?

    The current company i'm working for released something called Visual Caster, which is a flash based alternative to PowerPoint.

    Off Topic:

    Hopefully I wont get a slap on the wrist for mentioning it as it is relevant to the topic at hand.

  11. #11
    get into it! bigduke's Avatar
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    Alright so the issues we are dealing with are:
    1. Rich interface.
    2. Functionality.
    3. Management of extremely large files.
    Any solutions to those?

    I don't understand why php is being underestimated. Moreover PHP exists only in the business and data access layer here so there's no question of interface rendering through html. How the interface gets done is yet to be thought of.
    I wonder if C/C++ would be good for handling the operations.

    Quote Originally Posted by kyberfabrikken
    well ... really - why reinvent the wheel ?
    Ever seen a web based office suite thats been deployed successfully? Same thing as others in a sense yet an entirely different way of doing things.

  12. #12
    get into it! bigduke's Avatar
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    After seeing visual caster on Andrew's post, why not have flash for the UI ?

  13. #13
    Currently Occupied; Till Sunda Andrew-J2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigduke
    Alright so the issues we are dealing with are:
    1. Rich interface.
    2. Functionality.
    3. Management of extremely large files.
    Any solutions to those?

    I don't understand why php is being underestimated. Moreover PHP exists only in the business and data access layer here so there's no question of interface rendering through html. How the interface gets done is yet to be thought of.
    I wonder if C/C++ would be good for handling the operations.
    You really are taking the wrong approach, the approach I would take would be similar in effect to SharePoint services. The server-side language is actually irrelevant to the initial problem, you need to have a persistant connection between peers ideally. This is not the case with the web, and therefore you need to extend an existing application to ensure that data is sent, or chunked to the server/s. I would encourage you to look at how SharePoint services works as you will waste alot of time otherwise creating/extending applications in the wrong way (If time is critical to you that is).

    Why would you honestly recreate a rich set of applications such as Microsoft Office/OpenOffice & StarOffice, without a specific focus, these applications can be extended. As far as I can tell, you really must understand what is meant by collaboration, otherwise you will find alot of work ahead of you. The technology I would use on the server & client side would be .NET, but thats my personal preference. I'm not dismissing PHP, however I feel another technology, would be far better suited.

  14. #14
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Version0-00e
    If PHP then isn't suitable why start the thread in a PHP forum?
    I didn't start it. Not sure how this got transferred to be my project. I am pointing out some of the problems with the proposed ideas.

    For office applications, I don't use anything but Microsoft Office. And will continue to use Microsoft Office because there is nothing better available. I have no interest in programming anymore except to maintain what I have. Nor would I imagine spending 5-10 years of my life in developing such a product. Considering MS-Office has been in development for 15 years now and OpenOffice for 5 years.
    Wayne Luke
    ------------


  15. #15
    SitePoint Guru OfficeOfTheLaw's Avatar
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    Actually, I have toyed with the idea of making an application that let's people upload excel files, edit them, and download them. of course, someone already beat me to it with Excel Server (written in PHP), but doesn't keep me from playing around with it on my lunch break. I incorporated the cell freezing effect from massless.org, and have successfully emulated the excel look feel using some css and using some javascript. Currently I have text changes supported for output (i.e. colored text, fonts, underlines, etc) but haven't been able to get ExcelReader to read these formatting details (or haven't just had the time... something I do for fun).

    I'd put it on a public server to show off, but it's currently broken since my last revision (and as it's a personal free project, haven't exacltl been Mr. CVS with it).

  16. #16
    SitePoint Zealot sanka69's Avatar
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    SSH java client, which connects to a remote server (X) and then run open office.

    Or was that not the point?


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