Michael; who writes the Shared Spaces blog has recently written about the challenges of collaborative editing of documents/presentations. The problems not too difficult to solve within an business (Net Meeting etc) but solving the problem between businesses (through two sets of firewalls) in a secure fashion is another problem altogether. Its even more difficult if like me you want to do it on an ad-hoc basis, during a telephone or IM conversation, rather than using a multi-user conferencing system like Lotus Same-time, Oracle Collaboration Server or MS Live Meeting.
These are the options that Michael came up with, as these all cost loads of money, require a client installation and lots of coordination between collaborators they don’t fulfil my ad-hoc need, any other areas would be welcome:
- Groove Virtual Office Professional 3.0. Staff put the document to be shared into a Groove Document Review shared space. Internal and external participants are invited. Using the “Co-Edit” function of Groove, one person in turn can have edit rights of the document, and once they save their changes, everyone in the co-edit session gets to see the changes immediately. It’s not true real-time co-editing, but it’s extremely close … and it definitely solves the problem of having to email the changes around again. See www.groove.net
- GoToMyPC Corporate. The document owner invites the other party to a real-time co-editing session by enabling controlled screen sharing. The document would be opened directly from the document management system, and checked back in immediately upon finishing the edit session. Both participants can share editing of the document. No extraneous copies of the document are left lying around, thus solving the content security problem. See www.gotomypc.com/corp
- Authentica Secure Office. Authentica Secure Office enables staff to set access rights on documents—such as the right to read, the right to edit, the right to print, the right to copy text to the clipboard—for named individuals, as well as global rights for document expiration regardless of physical location. Secure Office does not deal with the problem of real-time co-editing of a Word document. It does, however, significantly reduce (or perhaps entirely eliminate) the risk of unauthorized disclosure of document contents. Hence, the document could be emailed as normal (or put into a Groove shared space), but no authorized access would be possible, since it was tied to an explicit rights policy. There are other companies that play in this space too. See www.authentica.com