Christmas break - the Beta is getting closer


North Creek is going on vacation for the next week. If I have time, I will send out some tweets and update my Facebook page, but this blog will likely be pretty quiet until the New Year.

In the new year, North Creek will be launching two products - Listmaker and CXL. Branding for these products may change as we go through Beta. A quick summary:

1) Listmaker:

This is going to be a free app that will let you collect data from your teammates / friends / meetup participants / whatever. You upload a spreadsheet with an empty table in it - no data, just column headers. We convert that table into a simple web form. We give you a URL - something like (Just a sample, not live)

and a QR code that points to the same URL.

You share those links however you like. Anyone who follows those links gets access to an empty form where they can provide the data for your spreadsheet. You can get notified when anyone or a certain number of users fill in the form.

When you come back to, you log in (using an email address or some public identity (Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / Yahoo / Microsoft) and you get to see all the forms that you have in our system. As the editor of the form, you are the only one who gets to see the data others have provided.

When you are satisfied that you have collected enough data (you have enough for a pot-luck, or you have the whole team's contact info), you close the collection and download the spreadsheet, with all the data filled in for you.

This will be ad-supported, with options to pay to remove ads and add different styles to the default look of the form.

2) CXL:

This will be our flagship application. CXL will take fully-featured spreadsheets and create a "document" record around them. Within that document record, you will be able to assign visibility and editing rights to people based on their North Creek identity (which again, can be based on email or on another public identity provider). You will be able to track changes to the spreadsheet by row, column, formula, format, or data.

CXL will give you a preview of the data and the charts in your spreadsheet, as of the latest version, or of any version in the document history. You will be able to make minor edits to the spreadsheet from the web interface, but primarily, the web page will serve as a window into the repository that surrounds the spreadsheet. If someone wants to "fork" your spreadsheet, they can do so and retain the document history up to the fork.

CXL will be compatible with .xls and .xlsx records to start, with other file formats becoming available in the future.

The goal will be to create an understanding of a spreadsheet and to secure it as a useful, reliable part of your business process. To that end, North Creek will work on integrating other data sources into your document so that you can create a template and fill it with data using web services or other cloud data providers. The outputs will always include a real spreadsheet document, but other outputs could be created as well.

In future releases, CXL could extract a template out of your spreadsheet, removing volatile data. You could also upload a template and associate it with a document record. The outcome of that could be the creation of a community resource of spreadsheet templates, with the ability to share useful spreadsheet designs with your team, your company, or the world.

I think spreadsheets are under-utilized because IT can't get a handle on them. CXL will allow you to see and manage your spreadsheet inventory, removing IT's concerns and solving your problems at the same time.

CXL will start with basic functionality in January. Listmaker will launch when ready. Stay tuned!

Contact: Email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or this blog.

Categories: Business , Software