The Beta Dance

I have been beta testing a few web applications for the past several weeks. I’ve had fun with them, but I suppose not enough fun to blog about them until now. Google recently acquired Writely which is an online word processing application with the idea of never again using Microsoft Word on your desktop when you can have Writely store every document online for you. I liked Writely a lot. It was relatively fast for everyday word processing but the real possibilities are hiding in the ability to share documents instantly (a lot like 37 Signal’s Basecamp). I am absolutely okay with storing my documents with Google because they back it up far more than I even think of doing so.

I also have been trying out Google Analytics, a website traffic statistic collector, for the past month or two. It hasn’t quite replaced SiteMeter which I have used from the start but Analytics sure does have a lot of advanced features and graphics. The graphics make it particularly easy to understand and analyze your statistics about blog readership. I know significantly more about the proportions of the referrals to my site and the number of new versus returning blog readers. I like it for the graphics but ideally Analytics is best used with AdWords advertising from Google.

Lastly, I’ve given Google Spreadsheets a try. I certainly don’t have many things to track, tally, or list so I can’t exactly test all its potential uses. So far, it seems sluggish and lacking features. For basic online storing of lists or computations, it’s okay. I wouldn’t store any financial data with Spreadsheets quite yet (or maybe even ever…). More testing needed when I have a project that requires Excel features.
Luckily for you, two of the web services I tested went entirely open to the public today: Writely and Google Analytics. Go ahead, try for yourself but remember, both are a bit testy since they aren’t “finished” Google products (which of their products is?)