Free file-sharing service drop.io (previously raved about here on WebWorkerDaily) added a really useful new service this week: real-time collaboration (or “streaming” as drop.io call it). This should be very handy for web workers: you could use it to share files during teleconferences or to collaborate on project assets with your distributed team, for example.
For the uninitiated, drop.io is a simple and flexible file-sharing service. You don’t need to sign up — just head to the site, select some files to upload and you’ll be taken to your “drop” (a space you can use for sharing files), which sits at a URL generated by the service, like this: http://drop.io/megy3fx. You can then send that URL to anyone you need to share your files with. You can choose to leave your files open to all, make them private, or control access as you wish. You can upload files to the drop in a number of ways: through the web interface, via email or fax, you can even send it voicemails (which are stored as audio files on the drop).
The really great thing about drop.io is it’s a foolproof and easy-to-use service that makes things really simple, which means sharing files with less technically-minded folk is less of a hassle than using something like FTP. The new features make it possible to collaborate on files in real-time on your drop.
Live asset updates
Any changes to your drop (like changes to existing assets, or the addition of new assets) are immediately displayed to everyone viewing it. Updates are displayed automatically using Ajax and don’t require you to reload the page. In my tests, changes were displayed virtually instantaneously.
This new feature adds an unobtrusive chat layer to the bottom of your drop, enabling you to add comments and discussion. Access the chat layer by clicking the “Who’s Online” tab at the bottom of the drop:
The chat window opens in an attractive, resizable semi-transparent overlay at the bottom of the drop.
As well as being able to use the chat layer to hold discussions, any changes to any assets in the drop are also recorded in the chat dialog. This gives you have a nice timeline of what happened when.
Because the drop’s chat and asset updates are handled via XMPP, the open-source messaging protocol used by Jabber and Google Talk, it’s also possible to use a third-party chat client, like Pidgin or Adium, to collaborate on the drop.
These new features make an already very nice app even more useful; I’d recommend drop.io to anyone looking for a super- easy way to share and collaborate on files.
Do you like the new chat heatures of drop.io?