With the explosion of the Web 2.0 based on the principals of Cloud Computing, hundreds of new websites offering Online services and tasks that we normally perform on our Desktops emerged. Powered by technologies Like AJAX, jQuery, Ruby on Rails we can find Websites that perform like authentic desktop applications but with the big plus of offering great portability allowing you to access them in any computer with an active Internet connection.
Today I gathered some of the most useful ones in order to supply you with a nice set of online tools to improve the quality and speed of your work or just have some fun.
Web by sergey1984
Description: Social Networks need no introduction. These are places where you can socialize with your friends, make new friends, make your own profile, interact with people, explore your interests, etc… For several years MySpace have been the king of all social networks with more than 110 million monthly active users! Besides MySpace there are other well-known social networks like Facebook, Orkut or Linkedin.
Description: If you browse the Web as much as I do, you often come upon interesting content you wish to save to read later or to follow in the future. But Social Bookmarking websites offer you a lot more then just saving content that you find (if that was their only function we would still be using Browser Bookmarks exclusively), they allow you to share your findings and discover pages you’ve never seen before. They are also good catalysts to promote your website. My favorite ones are StumbleUpon and Delicious.
Description: News Aggregators like Digg (with more then 25 Million unique visits per month) have been around since the start of the so called Web 2.0. News Aggregators like its own name indicates are websites that gather user submitted news from a great variety of sources. Some of these websites are more Tech related like Digg, others built around the design niche like Design Float where some are more general like Mixx or Reddit.
These type of websites have been the target of some criticism, more specifically Digg, accused of sensationalism and misinformation due to user abuse on news manipulation. But despite all of the critics, these type of websites are valuable sources for user information (together with a bit of judgment to filter some news…) and website promotion. Personally I prefer Social Bookmarking Websites like Delicious, finding them more direct, concise and reliable, but I do visit sites like Digg and Mixx from times to times.
Blog Hosting Services
Description: If you don’t know what a Blog is… well, hold on to your chair because… you are reading one! /Shock Blog is the contraction of the words “Web log” which is pretty much self explanatory. Blogs can be personal (like the one you’re reading now), or from corporate. Run by a singular individual or by a team. They can focus on a particular subject or talk about many things (like the one you’re reading now… /Déjà vu). Probably the most successful blogging platforms are Blogger from Google and WordPress.com. In the end like in many things in life, your blog service choice comes from personal taste, offer is diverse but all of them offer a rich number of services. I use WordPress but hosted on a different hosting company, if I were to use one hosted on a free service I would probably pick WordPress.com or Blogger.
Blog Search Engines
Description: Blog Search Engines compete with Google and Yahoo for searching blogs. These type of specific search engines index blogs normally by looking at Tags (metadata) that authors place on their websites or articles. The most well known Blog Search Engine is Technorati currently indexing more then 100 Million blogs.
Description: Some years ago reading your e-mail was majorly accomplished via a operating system program like Outlook, Thunderbird or Apple Inc.’s just as example. With the arrival of broadband Internet connections and technologies like Ajax, Webmail became a daily reality. The most prominent advantage of using an online e-mail reader is the fact that you can access your Inbox from any point connected to the Internet. That way you are always synced with your Inbox. One of the first and most successful Webmails is the well-known Hotmail from Microsoft. Personally I use Gmail and Yahoo! Mail. If you search for Webmail providers you will probably find a great number of offers, the problem is most of them are not free or provide you with a lesser service. From all the e-mail providers I’ve found the 3 referred before were the only ones worth mentioning.
Description: Online Word or Text Processors might not be as feature rich as their traditional Desktop counterparts, but what they lack in features they compensate with mobility (like any online application) and the possibility of shared work, making based team work a lot easier. Probably the most well-known online Text-Editor is Writely, now part of Google Docs. Other then Google Docs there are several options available today, including an application by Adobe called Buzzword. No one expects you to write a book using an online word-processors but it surely comes handy to edit that last minute paper we have to deliver till… yesterday.
Description: Spreadsheets are just another piece of software that comes bundled with any traditional Office suit like Microsoft Office. Just like online word-processors these are valid alternatives, suffering the same drawbacks but having some good advantages in their use (like explained before). I personally use Google Docs Spreadsheet from times to times. Honestly I haven’t add any need to try other solutions, but ThinkFree seems a nice alternative too.
Description: Slideshow Presentions is not something we need to use frequently, at least not the majority of us. The couple of times I had to use this type of software Microsoft Powerpoint and Open Office did the job well. There is a lot more behind doing a presentation then just writing big titles, using fancy colors and abuse on the effects, anyway… for that you need a Presentation Software and while I never used a free online one I think it should do the trick well enough. SlideRocket for that matter seems a very interesting offer.
Project Managers / Groupware
Description: Project Managers are online platforms to manage, plan, schedule and share you projects with others. Normally they offer you boards (forum), calendars, task lists, SVN and other capabilities to help you manage your group projects. I use a simple but powerful version of what you can call a SVN / Repository application, DropBox but for group work you will probably need something more powerful. The list below offer you some options that will probably meet your need.
- PHP Projekt
- Google Code
- Tortoise SVN
Description: Photo editors is one of that tools that everyone would expect to flourish with Web 2.0, it’s the definite demonstration of what an online application is capable of. Again you can’t except the full powerhouse of an Adobe Photoshop from an online application, first because it would make the first obsolete, second because bandwidth just isn’t there yet for the requirements that this implies and third because it would take a powerful computer to execute tasks a la Photoshop in a reasonable time frame. Maybe that’s something we can except for a Web 3.0? Who knows. Maybe Grid will be the beginning of a new Internet Paradox! In the meanwhile we have to be pleased with what we have, and what we have is Online Photo Editors capable of simple tasks like Recoloring, Red Eye Removal, Cropping, Color Effects, etc… you get the Picture. Picnik is probably the most used one, personally I prefer Adobe Express… maybe it’s the Adobe factor, but I do anyway.
- Adobe Photoshop Express
- SUMO Paint
Photo Organization / Sharing
Description: Photo Sharing websites like Flickr are not very different from Art Communitys except the fact that they focus only on Photography Art. While you may use ACDsee or other type of software for that matter to archive and browse your family photos, you usually like to receive critics and be aclaimed for that fantastic sunset photo you took last summer, then online photograph community websites is for you… and the artist within!
Art Galleries / Portfolios
Description: Art Showcase websites are one of my favorite ways to spend time and my bandwidth. These are extraordinary places to showcase your art and talent or to see other great artist galleries. I do visit a lot of art sites like Deviantart, Behance, Shadowness or CGsociety Portfolio. You will probably hear differnt opinions on what is the best of this places, some will say Deviantart, while others will hate it for being infested with lesser art and pseudo-artists. While I can agree to some extent, deviantart is still my favorite spot being Behance a close runner-up.
- CGsociety Portfolio
Description: Not much to say about Free Image Hosting Websites. They provide a valuable tool when you need to host “discardable” photos. I wouldn’t suggest you host your website/blog pictures in one of this services because you may find yourself in a position where you lost or pictures without being able to recover them. Not to mention the limited downloading speed they provide you, making your website loading speed slower.
But for anything than that, using Imageshack or TinyPic for example gives you a fast way to store online photos to show on a forum or to share with your friends that screenshot you took on that online game. I prefer Imageshack… and TinyPic, for no special reason.
Description: Just like there are lots of Photo Hosting Websites if you need to freely host other type of files you have many available options. Some offer more space then others, some offer more bandwidth, other less, some interfaces look cleaner, some put some ads to pay for the free space, but in the end… they all come to the same thing, space, free hosting space. I use MediaFire for most of my needs. Again… don’t rely to much on this services for important files.
That’s all folks!
Any other Categorie you would like included? Write a comment or send me an e-mail suggesting it.