Goodbye 'bloatware' -- hello Web apps
Massive desktop applications are so yesteryear
Call it the second Internet bubble, a Web 2.0 revolution or just a resurgence in really useful tools for busy end users -- Web applications are catching on quickly.
The advantages are clear for applications that work well on the Web: anytime and anywhere access to your data, good application speed over a broadband connection, automated backups and streamlined user interfaces that are far easier to use than the bloatware of yesteryear.
One of the most compelling reasons to use applications on the Web is that they are almost all free -- at least for now.
Here are a few new -- or at least lesser-known -- Web sites that can serve as good replacements for equivalent desktop software. In this roundup, I'll cover the features that make each one noteworthy and offer a few ideas for other candidates worth exploring.Gliffy
|Design a network, office space, organizational chart or just about anything with this powerful flow chart Web app. (Click image to see larger view.)|
Gliffy is a flowchart and diagram application that works exactly like Microsoft Visio. To create a flowchart, you just drag icons onto the document area. You can then use arrows and other pointers to create the flow chart.
Like many full-blown Web apps, Gliffy allows you to collaborate with other users by sharing your flowchart in a public workspace. Brainstorming sessions, marketing demos or just a clear plan on how to implement a hardware or software rollout in a large company become quick and easy -- there's no desktop client to install or site registration to think about.
Although Gliffy lacks the pizzazz of a commercial application -- some of the icons for creating a networking flowchart, for example, look too simplistic -- the Web application ran without any problems in both IE7 and Firefox. It does lack a way to quickly align objects or rotate them in set increments using a modifier key. As with most Web apps, Gliffy stores your diagrams automatically and introduces new features without requiring an upgrade.
Priscila Melendez, a senior consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., is a Gliffy user. "I used Gliffy when working on a marketing effort to share network security diagrams with other team members who were off-site," Melendez said. "The ability to share the images created and then to be able to save and use them in publications and documents makes this a great collaboration tool. I believe the way diagrams can be generated and shared is the greatest asset, especially since more companies are starting to open up to telecommuting."
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