Anyone remember Groove? I first saw it about 6 years ago (can it really be that long?) and I got quite excited. Our peripatetic CEO at the time got enthused because it would let him share files with all of us while he was on the road, which he was for most of the year. But then Microsoft bought the company, and our plan to use it foundered. Recently it popped its head up again in the context of Sharepoint, but I get the feeling that Microsoft has never really pushed it.
So I was quite interested when I found out about Collanos (http://www.collanos.com/), which does the same thing. Even better, it is a cross platform application, running on Windows, Mac, and Linux. I made a note of it and waited for an excuse to try it out. Finally that excuse arrived.
I’ve been working with a couple of people on a project. One of them is in China, one is in Hong Kong, and I’m here in the Philippines. We set up a demo workgroup and started throwing files in there. All seems to be working well so far, and in fact one of the guys is now busy piling files in there faster than my paltry bandwidth can soak them up, making sounds like “This is just what I’ve been waiting for!”.
Key points for me:
- Cross platform.
- Sharing files like this means they’re automatically backed up to several locations.
- Open Source goodness means a low barrier to entry. I can use it for small projects as well as big ones.
- You set up workspaces according to project or workflow. This is a different way of thinking to piling files onto a fileserver, but it makes more sense once you’ve got used to it.
- You keep all files, notes, discussions relating to a project in one space.
- Communication between group members can be done asynchronously in many to many Discussions, or in real time in One to one Chats.
Things which weren’t so cool.
- You can’t drag and drop between workspaces. This means you have to plan your workspace in detail before constructing it. Drag and drop is coming in a future release.
- A small glitch meant it took longer to join everyone to the group than it should, but that eventually ironed itself out.
All in all a keeper. I’ll run it for the length of this project and see how I go with it.
UPDATE: August 2011
I just revisited Collanos’ website, and was dismayed to see that it hasn’t been updated for over a year, and the last version of the software was released in Nov 2009. I guess this is now dead, which is a shame.