Ubidesk: A Rapidly Evolving Project Management Tool

ubidesk-logoProject management seems to be the 21st century’s “better mousetrap.” There seems to be an endless supply of new project management services; the latest addition to the ranks of this huge category is Ubidesk.

It has an interface that I find more attractive than some of the other products I’ve looked at. Its navigation is better than Peago‘s, with menus that seem logical to me, and slide-out sidebars that can be made to appear and disappear as desired. Ubidesk is Flash-based, however, so it won’t be useful in corporate and mobile environments where that technology isn’t available.

Ubidesk has a nice range of features, most of which are pretty standard in web-based project management apps, including:

  • Online document editing, with the ability to see who wrote what, revision history, and the ability to lock documents.
  • ubidesk-timelineTask management, with calendar and Gantt-chart type views, along with the ability to assign and track tasks, and to link documents to a specific project. Calendars can be exported via iCal.
  • User management, allowing administrators to set up project leaders, and to invite others to collaborate with them on specific projects or documents.
  • Email notifications that can be adjusted to meet user needs. Ubidesk doesn’t support RSS, however.
  • Help that is easily accessible, well-written and useful.

Ubidesk also has some unusual features, including the Notepad, a sidebar element where one can take notes while viewing any of the site’s screens, then save the notes as a document. This feature wasn’t working for me a few days ago, but is now operational again.

ubidesk-editorOne feature might be confusing: Ubidesk makes a distinction between “Docs” and “Files.” “Docs” can be created and edited online using a Word-type editor, but apparently can’t be imported. They can be emailed and exported as Word, PDF and HTML.

ubidesk-preview“Files,” on the other hand, can be imported, exported, and previewed, but can’t be edited online. They can be in several formats. I tried previewing DOC, XLS, GIF, JPG, PDF, and even an old WordPefect file; the online viewer displayed them all. (I couldn’t upload a 23MB Powerpoint file, which returned the error “This file is too large,” even though the service can supposedly accept files of up to 300MB.) ubidesk-direct-editSince Files can’t be edited online, Ubidesk has a feature called “Direct Edit,” which apparently allows files to be edited directly by the software on your local computer, then re-uploaded to Ubidesk. I couldn’t test it, though, because it requires MS Word and Firefox 3.0+ running under Windows.

Ubidesk is in beta. Several new features have appeared in the past week, so it’s obvious that the service is evolving rapidly. It’s being offered at no charge during the beta, but several subscription levels are planned, ranging from $14 to $119 per month. I wouldn’t depend on Ubidesk for anything mission-critical right now, but it’s a service worth keeping an eye on.

Have you tried Ubidesk?

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