Collaborative spreadsheet editing on Windows XP?

Forum: LinuxTotal Replies: 9
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Dec 21, 2010
5:51 PM EDT
Dear fellow LXer'ers,

Today I was faced with a problem at my work, and I hope someone has experience and can give some advice.

At my work, we have a long list of numbers. We have to keep track of them, to make sure we don't do the same number twice. Now, my colleague made a sheet in Excel, but we can't edit it at the same time.

So I was thinking about an alternative.

Here are the requirements / wishes:

-Should run on Windows XP, -Should be gratis to use in corporate environment (open source / free software is no requirement), -No need to install (so webapp would be fine), -Because of my personal beliefs, it should work without a Google / GMail account, because I refuse to sign up for a Google account. Only as a last resort! -Shouldn't rely on MS Access, as it seems Excel is installed but not Access, -We should be able to do some awk-like splitting, like if the number is XXnn-Xnn-nn-nn-NNNNN where XX are characters and n / N are numbers, we should be able to split them, -It would be great if we can import our current Excel spreadsheet, but if not, at least it should accept CSV.

Now, I've been looking at PALO, an open source OLAP database, which is a plugin for Excel, and I've been considering Zoho. I think Google Docs and MS Web Office might be fine too, but I'd rather not use those because of personal beliefs.

Anyone experience with those? Is Zoho free to use in a corporate environment (we're only two users with very "basic" needs?) I can't find out the latter from the website.

Thanks in advance!

Dec 21, 2010
6:27 PM EDT
I use Google Docs for this kind of thing. The evil is mitigated by the sweetness of the app itself.

Dec 21, 2010
6:33 PM EDT
I've personally found that "corporate environments" will easily accept webapps where the Windows client is accessing a custom service running on a Linux server. Even in a "Windows company", this solution seems to be ok in my experience.

Next, how to architect the Linux service. Not knowing a lot of your details, you might think about going with something pretty standard. A LAMP configuration (linux/apache/mysql/php) providing one or more custom pages for the user to interact with. MySQL is general enough, that it could probably be set up to handle your data needs and a little business logic in php would tie the pieces together.

From your description, this sounds like a single table solution. The InnoDB table type has support for row-level locking if you need one user to obtain and hold exclusive access to a particular record, while other users work in other parts of the database. You might eliminate the need for locking complexity if your application permits you to go with a "last change wins" strategy. In that case, no locking is needed, and MySQL's simple MyISAM table type provides concurrency to keep the individual rows consistent in a single table application.

I'm sure there are many approaches. Perhaps some of the others have more ideas.

Dec 22, 2010
1:07 AM EDT
How about FengOffice, a GoogleDocs-like application that you can run on your own servers?

Dec 22, 2010
4:10 AM EDT
Thanks for the suggestions!

I'll look into FengOfiice, never heard of it. Sounds like a great alternative! If it "saves the day" I'll write an article about it.

Our basic table is one column and about 2k rows of some kind of 'technical drawing numbers', so very basic. That's why we currently work with a spreadsheet. When splitting the numbers in more manageable pieces and including some additional info, we reach about 6 columns. So this is really peanuts.

Using my own MySQL server (I have one running on a VPS) might be interesting too, but I don't know which frontend to use. I mean, how do we enter data from the web into the table? How do I make a website to display the list / table on a website, and make it easy to sort it? I know I can write something in PHP, but I'm only a beginner when it comes to PHP, so I'd rather use some pre-coded solution. So I have the 'backend' running, but I'm not sure which frontend to choose and how to install (server is Debian Lenny). I have phpMyAdmin running, but it's too elaborate and pretty clumsy to enter actual data.

Maybe I'm stupid, I've Googled (see, I'm pretty pragmatic) and read some websites about possible front-ends, but haven't figured out yet.

Dec 22, 2010
9:36 AM EDT
Hans --

Go over to the dark side! Google Docs are really sweet for this kind of use.

Not to mention easy.

Dec 22, 2010
9:43 AM EDT
As far as I can tell, FengOffice is 'paid'.

Dec 22, 2010
11:54 AM EDT
Yes Hans, listen to Dino.. Google docs is cool..and we have cookies. lol!


Dec 22, 2010
2:48 PM EDT
@Hans: Yes, it's paid, unfortunately. It's predecessor GooOffice was open source, but only did spreadsheets. Maybe you could dig it up somewhere.

As for MySQL frontends, there are basically two kinds. There are frontends like PhpMyAdmin that you can use to administer your database. But you need to know how to work with SQL etcetera. The other kind is more like the "forms" you get in MS-Access. It's meant for users, not DBAs. Something like vFront for example:

Dec 23, 2010
3:50 AM EDT
Indeed, something for users and not administrators is what I'm looking for! I'll put it on my agenda, probably monday.

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