This edition of NetSpeak further explores the ongoing trend towards web-based applications and discusses ‘Google Web Store', yet another tool for managing them.

As you are aware, of late, many of the popular desktop applications have an online equivalent too. For instance, the Office suite, one of the most popular desktop applications, has several online solutions. Google Docs, Zoho Docs and the like are some of the prominent ones in this genre. You can use these applications to create text/spreadsheet/presentation documents from anywhere on the Web. You can even use them to conduct instantaneous surveys-using Google Docs ‘Form' option or Zoho creator, you can create a data collection form and administer it online within a few minutes.

Microsoft OfficeLive (http://www.officelive.com/en-us/), the web-based office suite from Microsoft, Sliderocket (http://www.sliderocket.com/), the online presentation application, are a few similar products worth a look. This trend of transition in desktop application to the Net cloud would continue unabated and an application without an online version may find it difficult to thrive.

Apart from the ones mentioned above, a plethora of applications pertaining to varied categories such as education (such as language learning tools), employment (such as job search), Utility (such as online notes) and so on are in place. For instance, English Central (http://www.englishcentral.com/), the application meant for learning English language is a good educational tool. Free availability of engaging videos (with captioning and word definitions) is an attractive feature of this service.

Wikipedia

It is common knowledge that the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, has become an important pedagogic tool. Wikipedia offers a huge database containing information on almost all possible subjects. A new trend gaining traction on the Net is the emergence of different types of applications built around the Wikipedia database (such as Qwiki, discussed in the past). Wikihood World Browser (http://www.wikihood.com/web/ ), the application that offers comprehensive clue regarding geographical locations on the globe is yet another example. For any location, you can obtain information pertaining to its people and culture. Of course, the information obtained through this service may not always be relevant other than providing an overview. Though a myriad of web-based applications on a variety of subjects are in place, only a fraction of them are able to become popular.

Due to dearth of proper information, many of these services are alien to ordinary netizens. Search engines or other traditional search tools are not sufficient enough to bring them to our attention.

One solution to keep up with the latest trends in this realm is to regularly scan special search services or directories that specifically review/feature new web-based applications. The service Appappeal (http://www.appappeal.com/) in which you can find reviews of new online applications is a good example. Navigating this service is easier given the organised content under specific themes (such as Commerce, Education, Health and Office).

Yet another wonderful resource that features in-depth reviews of online applications/tools is Web.AppStorm (http://web.appstorm. net/). Appvita (http://www. appvita.com/), Listio (http://www.listio.com/ ), Go2web20 (http://www.go2web20.net) and Feedmyapp (http://www.fe edmyapp.com/) are some other similar services worth a visit.

Web store

Sensing this frantic shift towards web applications, major Net players also have recognised the need for facilities that help us easily find/access these applications. The newly launched ‘web store' by Google is an instance of this trend. The ‘Chrome Web Store' (https://chrome.google.com/webstore) can be considered as a marketplace where you can easily find web-based applications and integrate them with Chrome.

Besides web applications, the web store hosts several Chrome extensions and themes as well, like the extension ‘Google Docs Viewer' (https://chrome.google.com/extensions/detail/kkjmcfdcd bbkdacicmpokoddagejpknh) that lets us create documents in ‘Google Docs' without having to visit the application's site. Free products aside, here one can find several commercial applications too.

As the web apps are organised under different categories (such as education, family and productivity), finding the relevant ones becomes easier. Applications such as ‘Jobs Aggregator' (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/ndkdpojefipfdjcihiigpabeofdhgfmo), Slide rocket (online presentation application) and so on can be easily integrated with the chrome browser.

Once an application is integrated with the browser, you can easily find it by clicking on the Chrome's ‘New Tab' page. Of course, all the web apps available in chrome web store can certainly be accessed from other browsers as well (via their links). However, the significance of web store is that it facilitates discovering and using web applications with ease.

Google Reader

Though some analysts view RSS-based newsfeed technology is obsolete and is on its way to oblivion (http://techcrunch.com/2011/01/04/rss-war/), many netizens (such as this author) continue to use it for keeping up with the latest trends in cyberspace.

As many of you would agree, Google Reader is one of the popular online webfeed aggregators. In case you are one of its users and not happy with its current text-based interface, then you may find the Chrome extension ‘FeedSquares' (https://chrome. google.com/extensions/detail/ddkahgkblobiogkkeedfn jkldecloidi) useful. This extension offers a graphical interface and a much more pleasant reading experience. Once invoked, the extension will display each of your feeds in separate squares.

He can be contacted at: jmurali@gmail.com

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