by Christopher Lindquist

Quick Collaboration and New News

Jun 16, 20053 mins

It’s nice to share. It must be; how else can you explain the ongoing (and increasing) popularity of online collaboration tools—from simple instant messengers to complex screen sharing apps. 

Given that growth, it’s no surprise to see  new sharing tools come on the market. One of the most recent, Jybe, from Advanced Reality, seeks to find a middle ground between ease and utility, offering more sharing features than an instant messaging client but not requiring the network bandwidth and learning curve of more full-featured collaboration tools.

Jybe loads as a plug-in for Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox and lets users browse the Web together as well as upload Microsoft Office documents for on-the-spot presentations and collaboration (though you can’t actually edit the documents while you view them).

It’s certainly slick and easy. You simply download the small Jybe plug-in, create a new password-protected session, upload  to Jybe’s servers any documents you want to view, send an e-mail with a link to participants, and away you go. The whole process takes only a couple of minutes. Documents appear as HTML in your browser, with a small toolbar for features at the top and a chat window underneath. It even integrates with Skype’s voice over IP service, giving you quick access to start meetings with your Skype buddies (integration with other collaboration tools is on the way).  

Downsides? A few. The company admits that sharing between Firefox and IE can cause some problems (though I didn’t see any during my demo). The integration was also so complete that I forgot to log off my demo session and started up my intranet blog interface—complete with typing in my username and password—before realizing that the other meeting participants could have seen it all if they were still logged in. Corporate users probably won’t like the whole “upload the docs to an external server” thing, either (though it’s probably more secure than e-mail). For security minded folks, Advanced Reality offers an Enterprise version for a licence fee that lets you run a Jybe server behind your firewall.

It’s a tool certainly worth a test run.

The same goes for Snap News (from Perfect Market Technologies). This beta site consolidates news sources from around the world, but it uses a somewhat different interface from its competitors like Google News. Based on search technology from X1, Snap News lets you sort quickly through half a million stories by using basic keyword searches that you can then refine instantly according to date, time, title or source. Plus there’s no “search” button. Just like X1’s desktop search tools, you begin searching as you type. Who knows if Snap can make any headway against the giants of the news search space, but it’s always nice to have options, especially if you’re starting to suffer from Google Fatigue.