Friday, August 13, 2010
So, with the demise of GoogleWave at the end of the year I've begun my search for a possible replacement. I had a quick squint at a few offerings but settled on giving Huddle a shot.
It looks quite promising although it takes a bit of getting used to after the style of waving I've been exploring. There are certainly features in Huddle that didn't exist in Wave and of course the inverse is also true.
What I liked about Wave was the concept of a single conversation. I guess in Huddle this is replicated by the idea of multiple workspaces where each idea or project has its own set of files and discussions. The free version only allows one workspace, which with some thought can be adapted to hold several active projects. I just feel that having easily identifiable space for a few projects would suit my needs better. I can get this facility if I opt for a paid version of the product (a monthly subscription is required).
Having said that, the extra features of being able, for example, to assign tasks to team members and send them an email reminder is very nice. I got one this morning about inviting people to enter my workspace.
Uploading files is easy and smooth, although I haven't tried uploading a file again after editing it. Huddle keeps an audit trail for each file you create or upload, which is useful too. I work with pdf's a lot because I don't use Microsoft software if I can help it. As a Mac user, I find Pages really easy and flexible for producing all my documents. Sadly Word is the standard for most people, so a pdf is almost guaranteed to be openable on every platform. Huddle accepts all sorts of file types and provides an online editor for excel and word files.
So, my first impressions are that although it doesn't have the feel of Waving, Huddle looks like a really useful online collaboration tool. Used properly I think it could help all sorts of groups and businesses to work together more effectively. These tools allow you to reduce the clutter of an inbox full of rabbit trail emails and they allow you to centralise a single copy of the most up to date version of a file. Everything in one place for every project.
Of course if you just want to share files, then Dropbox is great for doing that. But what Huddle gives you is all the facilities to discuss and organise around those files.
The downside of Google Wave was that it didn't work in the most common browser (Explorer) and it didn't work on one person's G4 Mac for some reason. Huddle doesn't look like it will suffer from those problems.
The question is, can I get the technologically averse to dip a toe in the water of online collaboration and join the Huddle? That may well be the defining criteria for success.
And by the way, thanks to the company for the courtesy call I got yesterday for signing up to Huddle. Both unexpected and thoughtful.
An alternative to Huddle might be Writeboard, but I haven't explored that yet.