An Elegant Option for Collaborative Content Review

colaab_logoColaab is a brand-spanking-new web app in the design and content review space. The app is not about project or task management. It’s for real-time or asynchronous collaborative work on files (documents, images, videos, and even websites). It’s ideal for remote collaboration if you work in design or creative work of just about any kind, or any field that involves imagery.

If you’re not in a field like this, it’s possible that many of you are involved in online training or teaching (I’ve been both an online teacher and student myself). If that’s your situation, you might want to explore how using Colaab could enrich your students’ online learning experience.

There are a few web apps in this space, but there’s room for improvement. This one really got my attention when founders Paul McGinness and Bob Thomson showed me their demo at LeWeb ’08 in December.

For one thing, compared to the others I’ve seen that serve a similar purpose, this app is far superior aesthetically. The UI is elegant and clean, with a rich interface thanks to Microsift Silverlight 2. Its features are so smooth that I wish I were part of a team of designers of anything at all so I could upload images and scribble on them with my team. But alas, I work primarily in the verbal space. Still, since I happen to be right in the middle of overseeing the design of the site, logo and some collateral material for my own project, I decided to upload some of those files and see what Colaab is about.

I started by creating an account, choosing the full-featured free plan that comes with 50 MB of storage space and one workspace with 10 users. Upon login, I was immediately prompted to create a workspace.

colaabtestspace2Within the workspace, you store and manage your resources (the files you are collaborating on). However after creating the workspace, I ran into a little bump. How to add resources to my workspace was not immediately evident. I clicked around and eventually discovered that I had to click on the workspace block that had appeared in the dashboard after I created it. Maybe there was another way, but I didn’t see it. (There were a couple of moments like that, but the learning curve is not daunting.)

The workspace includes an integrated IM feature, and discussions are displayed in the upper part of the right-hand panel. The lower part shows which users are participating. Without having to refresh the page, you receive notification of others’ comments and messages and when team members log in or out. As you might expect, when members make annotations on the files, all those who are logged in see them, also without having to refresh.


You can go to the Colaab site for more annotated screenshots, or watch their demo.

Colaab has offered a special deal for Web Worker Daily readers. The first 500 who sign up using the invite code WWD can have the “Starter” package for a year for free (normally $288). Mac and PC users welcome!

The application is already impressive and it has loads of promise. They’re still in beta, and eager to hear from their users. They’ve integrated the easiest feedback system I’ve ever seen (click the word Feedback in the upper left of the page and a nifty little form appears). So do try it out and let them know what you like and don’t like, and what you’d like to see!

If you want to compare Colaab to some of the other apps in the design review space, you can look at ConceptShare, proofHQ and Octopz. Another is ReviewBasics. I was mildly entertained by the fact that you can leave feedback on their demo as you would if you were working in the app.

So I did.



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