Saturday, November 26, 2011 Is Your Answer To Simple Real-Time Collaboration is a dead simple real-time collaboration tool by CompanyLine. This online tool is perfect for personal and business use. Brett Hellman started the company after creating a similar app to fill a void while working in corporate America. Once he did that he saw the potential and set out on his own.

It only takes a few minutes exploring the website to get the lay of the land before you are off and running. To test it from both sides (admin and user) I used an incognito window on Chrome to see the full functionality. Once you setup an account you can begin by joining some other halls (Apple, Startup, ESPN, Ruby, etc.) or creating your own. A hall is like an auditorium, or room, where people congregate, have events, and talk. Within the hall you can have a conversation and interact using four different apps, or widgets. You become the "hall monitor" when you create your own hall and can also designate other members to be monitors.

Poll - The monitor can create the name of the poll and the options to select. The system allows each user to select one option, or even create their own option to vote for. The % of each option chosen is shown as well as a interactive pie chart. Each vote is registered in real-time.

Ranker - After being set-up this interesting app provides a list to each user which they drag and drop in order of importance. The system aggregates all the completed lists to provide the average view of the voters. The way it does this is by (if you have three items in the list) giving three point to the first item, two to the second, and one to the third. The points are tallied up, and the entry with the highest points is the number one chosen entry. Unlike all the other apps, users are not able to add an entry to interact with.

To-Dos - This is a simple list of items that can be ticked off. Everyone can add to the list as well as complete items on it. If something gets check off in error, or is found by another user to have not been completed, it can be unchecked. All action happens live and everyone viewing the app at that time can see the things being completed in real-time.

Notepad - This freeform virtual piece of paper can be used for anything. All edits are visible as they occur by anyone and everyone can edit and create content live at the same time.

As soon as you try it out you will immediately start to think of use cases. The possibilities are endless even though the website is still very much a work in progress. I can see using this while on a conference call, especially because the monitor/admin can provide the hall link to anyone and no sign-up is required to join in. The hall can be protected by password for security. They are continually enhancing and launching new features. Some of the things I would like to see are:

  • Add information on the activity tab to see what app the activity was for
  • For the notepad app, have a track changes feature to know when things were added or edited, and by who
  • Have profiles so that people can click on avatars and names to get more information about a user
  • Allow a hall monitor to delete conversation entries
  • Create a search function to look for halls
  • Encrypted connection for password protected halls

I was impressed with the simplicity of the design and look forward to seeing how progresses. Live collaboration can be very complex and keeping it simple is the key to success. Follow and interact with them on their blog, Facebook, and Twitter.