EtherCalc

You already know what a spreadsheet app is and what you do with it. Vital for wordpreneurs, of course. I’ve long gone online and Web-based with my spreadsheets using Google Sheets.

Thing is, most of what I really use it for are nowhere close to complex or heavy duty. I’d say a lot of it’s just relatively simpler tables that accompany reports, documents, etc.—like, say, a table showing last week’s daily sales and revenue per product. So, although I can whip those up quickly in Google Sheets, I’ve found myself wondering sometimes if there’s something else out there that can sufficiently serve that “free online tool for quickly pumping out fairly simple spreadsheets” role.

Then I got reminded of EtherCalc recently, and now I can stop wondering.

You see, EtherCalc’s been around for a while. Since the mid-2000s, I believe. I just never found need to check it out. Saw it mentioned in someone’s comment in a discussion forum, and I thought, “That’s still around?” and decided to check it out.

Worth the visit. As mentioned, it’s totally free. Doesn’t even require any signups at all. Just go to the site, and create a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet will have a unique URL, and that’s the only “security” it’ll ever have. Which means two really important things to note:

  • Anyone with that unique URL can fully access that spreadsheet. That’s actually a collaboration feature—you can have a whole team of people from all over the place working with the same spreadsheet.
  • You better save that unique URL. Since there are no signups, meaning no accounts to associate a spreadsheet with, if you lose that link, you’ve pretty much lost the whole spreadsheet.

Figuring out how to use EtherCalc should be fairly easy for anyone who’s used spreadsheets before. Much of it does have that mid-2000s feel to it, but it works fine, and not difficult at all to get acclimated to. Poking around, you’ll likely conclude that heck yeah, it can handle larger and more complex multi-sheet spreadsheets, not just the small tables I mentioned, so if that’s what you want to use it for, enjoy!

Also note that you can save/export EtherCalc spreadsheets, and in various popular formats (Excel, HTML, CSV, etc.), so using it doesn’t lock you in to the platform at all. Smart. If you don’t need the tool now, bookmark it and keep it handy.

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