The underappreciated Web spreadsheet EditGrid is getting a useful and cool new feature: built-in lookups to online resources. For example, if you want your online spreadsheet to display the current stock price of a company, or maybe its site's Alexa rank, you can now easily code that into your formulas.
Other functions give you data from the CIA World Factbook (natural gas reserves in Thailand, anyone?), baseball stats via Strikeiron, TechCrunch's Crunchbase company database, and other interesting info. If you want to get fancy, there are also functions to pull data straight from Web pages.
All the data you pull in from these functions can serve as input to other formulas, which opens up interesting analysis possibilities. Say you're trying to get a read on a start-up you're thinking of investing in, and efficiency in getting eyeballs to the site matters to you. A simple formula of monthly page views (from Compete) and number of employees (from Crunchbase) might do that for you. Assuming you trust those data sources, of course.
I did find the menu of data sources a bit limiting outside the realms of financial information and Web analytics, but the concept of adding online data sources directly into a spreadsheet's function library is spot on, and EditGrid spokespeople confirm that more sources will added to the lineup shortly. I hope EditGrid also opens up the application programming interface so people at other sites can mash their online data into the EditGrid libraries.
Google Docs has a subset of these functions, but not the breadth of data that EditGrid now offers.