SocialText/wikiCalc: More Interesting Than Google Spreadsheets

SocialText has announced an agreement with Dan Bricklin for the exclusive distribution rights to his wikiCalc spreadsheet software (Dan Bricklin is also the creator of VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet for personal computers).

Like Google’s new Spreadsheets application and other online spreadsheets, one of the goals of wikiCalc is to end the “email volleyball” issue (as SocialText CEO Ross Mayfield puts it) where spreadsheets are sent back and forth between users for editing. Most of the new online spreadsheets applications allow various levels of viewing and editing a single version of a spreadsheet, which is stored on a server instead of locally.

But wikiCalc is a much more significant, if less flashy, piece of software than Google Spreadsheets, particularly now that it is being paired with SocialText’s development and enterprise sales resources. It provides the first real non-Microsoft alternative for companies wanting to edit spreadsheets on the network but who are not willing to have third parties like Google storing their data. Upcoming versions of Office will have similar sharing functionality as wikiCalc, but at significantly higher price points. And wikiCalc, like all wikis, will have a true audit trail built in – every change to every cell is stored and can be rolled back. It’s like an infinite undo button.

Socialtext’s wikiCalc software will be released under an open source license for installation directly onto servers. Later, a hosted version will be available and SocialText will also distribute it to its enterprise customers via an appliance (like SocialText’s other products).

UPDATE: A screencast showing the product in action is linked from here.