Thursday, June 4, 2009

Collaboration Tools Part 1

This is the first in a series about various collaboration tools. If I miss your favorite, please let me know.

The first digital collaboration tool I recall using was the Microsoft Office - Word and Excel. Early on we would just copy the file to a disk and pass the disk on to the person with whom we were sharing. later we would put the file on the local area network server. Finally we got real slick and started emailing the files as attachments.

How badly did I just show my age? Before email? Yes, there was such a thing.

What made these programs collaborative was the ability of the party you shared with to edit and change the document. It was nice when the software tracked changes and managed version controls, but just the ability to pass the document on, have it changed and returned was the great benefit.

The comparison to typed or hand written notes is hard to image these days, but that was the giant leap when these tools became available. Folks would pay $3,000 to $5,000 for the PC and software in the 80's to get this improvement. In today's money that would be at least twice as much. Who would pay that now? Now we all expect it for free or almost for free. And I have to admit I love my under $300 net book.

Once we became used to these tools we learned to complain about the limitations. The big limitation was most apparent when sharing with groups. If you sent the same Word document to two other folks, getting a single merged version was the issue.

Of course, in software, every problem which can be clearly described becomes the specifications for the next generation.

Next post - Google Docs.


Kate H said...

Excited to see Part 2 and beyond! Have you tried Microsoft Office Live Workspace for document sharing and collaboration? It offers users the ability to create, save, access, and share documents and files online (5 GB of storage for free!) and fully supports the MS Office Suite. There is even a plug-in for MS Office that lets you save your files to your online Workspace directly from whichever Office program you are using. Check it out and let us know what you think in Part 3, perhaps.
MSFT Office Live Outreach

David Corcoran said...

Stick with Google Docs, you can't go wrong! This is partly why we started reselling the Google Apps suite, it comes bundled with Docs for your business.
Cheers, nice blog.

Arturas said...

We are using our own development for management and collaboration, check it out, maybe you'll find it useful