Are Document Files (Formats and Containers) Necessary

Today, I’ve had two content issues which required the passing of one file to another person (via email, ew). In both cases, I wonder if those files were even needed, since both sets of content could be displayed in-browser versus needing a dedicated application.

The first instance was of an Excel document. Now, there are two of us working on this document and both need the main columns, the information would be brought together later. Thing is, with SharePoint, you cannot collab on a document like that you have to wait until the other person checks it back in and then you can append your changes. For this type of analytic work, its tedious.

What could work here is to use a SharePoint list, put the columns in there to match the spreadsheet, add choice and text fields for input areas, and then we could both work on this at the same time. And then for the 3rd party that needs to see this, they can simply go to the list (in a Read-Only account) or get the results by using the Export to Access or Excel function. Never needing to open Excel for this at all really – add some type of reporting layer and you’d really never need it.

The second one has to do with a site redesign. Now, I’ve already got the document in an online repository, but not everyone would have access to it. I could open it, but then I lose the free-form ability to create the wireframes as I had intended. This is initial thinking and very high-level, so doing detailed work doesn’t apply, and neither should a dedicated app. Problem is, I need to take it out of the dedicated app’s format, and put it into something that is more SVG *and* slide friendly that works in a browser.

This would be another collaborative event, but the kind that – again – working in the browser would come in handy for. In addition, I’m on mobile just often enough that to use the browser to display this would make sense (in SVG terms) since it would scale appropriately.

I don’t know if too many people are ready for this, but I know that I am. I’d rather have to just think about the content, instead of debating to think if they have the right plug-in or version of the application. If I know that the browser(s) are up to snuff – and most modern ones are – then collaborating like this should be where we go with computing. Not, taking yet another error message and building an application for yet another (antiquated?) format.

Worst of all, enterprises could really use this kind of thinking, but don’t even look to exploit all that beautiful hardware (servers, laptops, and people) that could make this easy.