Some of you may already know of services that offer spreadsheets online, like Num Sum, but you may want to consider giving iRows a try. iRows is a great solution for creating web-based spreadsheets that has similar functionality to the popular office application, Microsoft Excel. With iRows, you can save spreadsheets online, keep it privately, share them with groups, and let anyone view them. You can perform formulas, formatting, and amazingly even graphs. I’ve played around making a few spreadsheets and I am very impressed with its overall functionality. I have even used it for work already instead of Excel. Looks like Office 2.0 is well on it’s way!

When I first signed up, I took a look at some spreadsheets that others have already created to get an idea of what can be accomplished with iRows. Some spreadsheets were packed with data, others were basic formulas, and some were tutorial spreadsheets that iRows created to get you going. My first impression was that it was just some Num Sum clone, but after taking a closer look, there were actually quite a bit of features that impressed me. I was mostly impressed with the spreadsheets themselves, but just to give you a basic idea of the system, here are some of the features you get. First thing that I liked was that you can easily search for data sheets and then easily find it again by going to the recent section of iRows, which will show the spreadsheets that you’ve recently looked at. I also liked how you can easily create groups and share your spreadsheets with them. Sometimes I just want to make a private spreadsheet but maybe allow a few people to see it. You can also give others access to edit your spreadsheets making them into collaborative documents. One thing that I didn’t find though was tagging. You can apply keywords to spreadsheets, but I think tags would make for a whole lot more functionality.

I was very impressed when making spreadsheets on with iRows. The first thing that you will notice is the similar appearance to Microsoft Excel with the blue gradients making it a very comfortable environment to work. I am used to the style of Microsoft Excel and I was glad to see that iRows has maintained the style. Secondly, I noticed that the container the spreadsheet is in can be resized allowing you to fit the data in a view that works best for you. You can also resize columns and select multiple cells at a time (even Shift + Click works to select multiple cells). But most of the functionality can be found along the top menu of the spreadsheet. You will find that you can change colors, font formatting, number formats, modify rows and columns, export and import, add images, and amazingly even create graphs on the fly. iRows also allows you to add formulas to cells as you would in your basic spreadsheet application so you can easily make calculations on data.

To get an idea of how advanced you can get with iRows, take a look at the above spreadsheet. I did not make the above spreadsheet, but I believe it makes a great example to show. There is a lot of data present, many formulas, and headings in various places. I noticed that clicking on a cell that has a formula will not only let you easily modify it, but it will also border the cells involved in blue dashed lines making it very easy for you to see what’s going on. To see how flexible the graphs were, I decided to add a Pie Chart to this spreadsheet. I selected one row with headings and around four or five rows of data under the headings. I then clicked on the graph icon and selected the Pie Chart. It automatically filled in the range of data and had me select if the data was for the selected rows or columns. I then filled in a title for the graph and clicked “ok.” That was all to it and the graph you see above is exactly what it produced. Not only that, but you can resize the graph at any site and even modify it in real-time in that if you change any data on the spreadsheet, the graph will update automatically. Lastly, you will see in the screenshot that I’ve got the import/export menu open. iRows allows you to export your spreadsheets in XML, HTML, and even tab delimited or comma seperated text document. I use tab delimited format a lot for work, so I found that export option especially helpful. Then, you can import data to a spreadsheet by inserting your text delimited data or iRows XML export data into the import text fields provided. Although, I would love to upload files directly into the application through an upload form instead of just the provided textarea. For the most part, the export/import options worked very well and a lot of my offline spreadsheets transfered over just fine.

iRows works great and I personally prefer it over Num Sum at this point because of the graphing and import/export options. I would like to see tagging though as it makes searching and collaborating a whole lot easier for everyone. And lastly, for those of you interested in embedding spreadsheets into your sites/blogs, iRows provides you with code to easily do this as well and in an interactive or static format. I have tested it in an HTML document and it worked out great.

I find it amazing seeing all these online applications function just like many of our offline applications. I still use offline applications, but things may be changing soon as it appears I can easily switch at anytime to online services only. The only worries that I have when it comes to office applications online is the security of my data and knowing that if a server goes down or I am out of connection, I cannot access my data. Things should be getting very interesting in the coming generation of the web and the theory of Office 2.0. Anyone else feel the way I do when it comes to the security of data? Do you believe that Office 2.0 is going to be the way of the future?

View iRows – Web-based Online Spreadsheets.

Update:: So I wrote this review last night, and it figures that a new release of iRows is published this next morning! Hah. Yes, iRows has just released an update with the spreadsheets and they look very nice. But the new version does not appear to work in Firefox, but did in the old version. I notice there is now tagging and you can also export the document as an Excel file. Although the tagging seems to still function just like the old keywords did (just displaying the words). It would be great to be able to select spreadsheets by a tag or tag cloud of some sort. Maybe making a new “Tags” section in the “Data Sheets” area would work, if not, maybe in the Search area somehow. Also, you will see the interface has a new menu that is orginized just a little differently compared to the description I made last night. It functions great in Internet Explorer and Safari, but seems to fail in Firefox. I am glad to see the increase in functionality though, so hopefully they can fix the browser issue and everything will be great.

Update: Seems to be working again in Firefox. Nice work, iRows, for fixing that quickly.


21 Comments on “Web-based Spreadsheets with iRows”

  1. Manifold says:

    Been looking for a web-based spreadsheet service for some time. But does it support OpenDocuments?

  2. BlueAce » Office 2.0 is er klaar voor says:

    [...] Bij SW vinden we een review over iRows: een online Excel a.k.a. spreadsheet-service die vergelijkbaar is met NumSum. Enorm handig als je je spreadsheets met bepaalde mensen wilt delen of als je overal toegang wil hebben tot een handige veelzijdige spreadsheet editor. Je kunt het hier even uitproberen. [...]

  3. it's much better than it appears! says:

    iRows outperforms NumSum…

    Thanks to Richard MacManus and his review of the best web office products, I’ve discovered iRows.

    I have to say I like it more than NumSum. The overall user experience is much more pleasant and smooth. Moving between cells, inserting formulas, s…

  4. Carl Shimer says:

    You might check out numbler.com (shameless plug).

  5. IT|Redux » Zoho Sheet Goes Live says:

    [...] The much anticipated Zoho Sheet finally went live, right when iRows is getting released, for which Brian Benzinger provided a very thorough review. This tells me that some healthy competition is building up. If we add Num Sum to the mix, that makes for three working Office 2.0 alternative to Microsoft Excel. To me, it’s proof that the concept is right. Now we need to see who comes up with the first implementation that will support macros, which will fix yet an other bug from my list and takes us much closer to the end goal. Also, many thanks to Brian for using the “Office 2.0″ moniker. Since last week, typing it into Google brings IT|Redux as result number seven. This isn’t too bad… [...]

  6. Online Presentations with Thumbstacks » Solution Watch says:

    [...] The Blog Herald Tim Knows Best Top Dog Blogs Venture Nine Venture Nine Blog Recent Solutions Online Presentations with ThumbstacksWeb-based Spreadsheets with iRowsCarbonmade: Show off your workSproutit Mailroom for Small BusinessEmail ManagementcoComment Follow-Up and Greasemonkey Script [...]

  7. ZYQLC.CN » zdnet??2006??web????(??) says:

    [...] This category seems wide open right now, with no clear market leader. Perhaps this is because the functionality of online spreadsheets isn’t quite there – Excel can rest easy for now. NumSum was an early “social spreadsheet” service. When it first came out it was hamstrung by the spreadsheets not being shareable. However I’m happy to see that this feature has since been added, enabling multiple users to edit a spreadsheet. iRows is a brand new product that offers a similar feature set to NumSum, including the ability to collaborate on a spreadsheet. A couple of people prefer iRows already – Brian Benzinger has a great review of it. [...]

  8. [2006/02/24] ?? - ???????????? at ???? says:

    [...] Welcome to iRows – iRows Web based online spreadsheets????? review??????????? [...]

  9. Scott says:

    It is encouraging to see the progress being made in these tools. However, at this time, irows is still too difficult from a usability perspective. I really wanted to give it a try and tried to setup a spreadsheet to track my time on projects. This is something I setup for each project and is a pretty simple Excel spreadsheet.

    While iRows could technically handle it, getting the spreadsheet setup was a pain in the a@@. I think improvements in accepting commonly used keyboard commands would help. I hadn’t realized how often I navigate with the keyboard. Supporting things like Ctrl+Home to go to the beginning of the file, Ctrl+End to go to the bottom, highlight multiple cells and pressing the DELETE (or BACKSPACE) key to delete the contents, holding down CTRL and highlighting adjacent cells, etc. Also, moving a cell from one place to another does not update formulas using that cell.

    Like I said before, I could accomplish my spreadsheet in irows, but getting it done was a big pain. I am encouraged by the potential it has, but will only use it in a very limited number of situations at this time.

    I have the same issues with NumSum.

  10. JsBook » Web-based Spreadsheets with iRows » Solution Watch says:

    [...] Web-based Spreadsheets with iRows » Solution Watch No responses to ‘Web-based Spreadsheets with iRows » Solution Watch’. RSS feed for comments and Trackback URI for ‘Web-based Spreadsheets with iRows » Solution Watch’. [...]

  11. redesfera » Blog Archive » Hojas de cálculo online says:

    [...] He buscado en Google y me ha llevado a este post en el que habla de iRows, que no conocía. También lo he probado y la impresión ha sido muy distinta, muy fácil de usar, agradable, con opciones sorprendentes como crear gráficos en la hoja de cálculo, me ha gustado mucho. [...]

  12. WebJillion says:

    [...] This morning as I was reading Solution Watch’s latest hype-filled post — this time about some app called iRows — I was shooting snarky comments to myself: [...]

  13. Online SpreadSheet Services Review at AdGlobe Tech Blog says:

    [...] More review on IRows [...]

  14. Working On-Line: Excell-ent On-Line Spreadsheets « Miro’s World says:

    [...] See also developer’s blog and this review. [...]

  15. david leitch says:

    Hope this product keeps developing as it has great potential. For the graphs its essential that there is some way of selecting a header or other column to label series.

  16. ANDREAS’ BLOG OF JUST EVERYTHING » Blog Archive » Back to School with the Class of Web 2.0: Part 2 (reblogged) says:

    [...] iRows: Create and share spreadsheets online, create charts, include dynamic information, and upload and save Excel, CSV and OpenDocument files. More on iRows. [...]

  17. web live :: Back to School with the Class of Web 2.0: Part 2 :: January :: 2007 says:

    [...] iRows: Create and share spreadsheets online, create charts, include dynamic information, and upload and save Excel, CSV and OpenDocument files. More on iRows. [...]

  18. Boris Savic says:

    View iRows – Web-based Online Spreadsheets is not implemented for programmer which use excel as a form of a database, hope to see them work this problem out, so my work would bee a lot easier. See you soon, Boris Savic

  19. Darin says:

    it’s very usefull, but I agree with the security of the data, because I work with “very confindental research data” than I can’t work with irow, maybe this tools just perfect for academic study or school but not for company

  20. Jeff Singleton says:

    Too bad iRows doesn’t exist anymore. Anyone know what happened or if its coming back?

  21. Online SpreadSheet Services Review says:

    [...] More review on IRows [...]