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10 Unsung Collaboration Tools — Many of Them Free

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Collaboration is in full swing on the web, for both social and work-oriented purposes. Most of us can rattle off the well-known applications that are available, but there are many targeted, useful collaboration apps that are more offbeat. Here are 10 of them, many of them free.

Redliner. If you’ve ever tried to collaborate with others on documents over email, you know that version control problems and many other issues can arise. Redliner is becoming one of the more popular online tools to get around these problems. Unlike, say, Google (s goog) Docs, it offers a complete commenting and revision system. Check it out in the screencast here. Redliner is currently being beta tested and you can use it for free, although it will eventually move to a paid monthly model.

doingText. Also on the document collaboration front, doingText has steadily grown into a robust, hosted platform. It’s available in a version for $5 a month, and you can share documents via randomly generated, unique URL.

Kablink. Kablink is a free and open source collection of collaboration components that lets groups work offline and online. When work is produced offline, it can automatically be synced with other users’ work online. Conferencing and wiki-like features are available.

Collanos Workspace. The motto of the Collanos Workspace free, open source collaboration platform is “Think outside the inbox.” To set up a team work environment, you click Create Space and begin inviting people. You can post files of many formats to collaborate on, instant message while you work and track pending tasks.

PBworks. At November’s Enterprise 2.0 conference in San Francisco, the folks behind PBWiki announced the addition of real-time collaboration tools to their wiki platform. The new PBworks suite of tools includes in-app instant messaging, live notifications of changes to an organization’s workspaces, live editing of documents and voice collaboration. There are also business and legal document templates available in an online store. Businesses, legal firms and schools pay just a few dollars per month per user (pricing varies by package) for PBWorks’ hosted collaboration apps. The free file-sharing service is used by many editors and writers across The GigaOM Network to easily upload files that can be shared with collaborators by simply providing a short URL to visit. also now offers real-time collaboration features for tasks such as sharing files during phone conferences.

Socialtext. Based on the concept of combining a wiki with a blog, Socialtext provides an enterprise-level group collaboration platform. Every person who is a member of an organization’s Socialtext account gets their own dashboard –- or personal homepage –- where they can embed and arrange via drag-and-drop both personal and work information, images, and widgets. Email and microblogging are also integrated with the platform in useful ways. Socialtext is free for groups of 50 users or fewer who want basic features, and reasonably priced fee-based packages with all the bells and whistles are available.

e-tipi. e-tipi incorporates elements of Twitter, Digg, wikis and blogs to create a shared workspace through which ideas are fleshed out. Each user page is called a tipi, and it contains various ideas submitted by the tipi’s users. You can export data to HTML for sharing on web pages, too. You can watch a demo here, and free accounts are available.

MemberHub. Group management and communication service MemberHub equips users with dashboards, discussion forums, shared calendars and many other tools for sharing ideas and collaborating. You can see how it works in this video, and pricing is found here, including a free version. 10 cents per person per month, purchased in blocks of 100.

Colaab. If you want a very feature-rich collaboration platform with a slick user interface, check out Colaab. Once you sign up for an account, you begin by creating a workspace. As Pamela over on WebWorkerDaily notes, “the workspace includes an integrated IM feature, and discussions are displayed in the upper part of the right-hand panel, while the lower part shows which users are participating.” Colaab is available in a starter version for $24 a month, which includes 1GB of storage and 10 workspaces.

27 Responses to “10 Unsung Collaboration Tools — Many of Them Free”

  1. Frans van der Jonge

    I use HumanEdj. It lets you make plans for collaborative work very easily by creating Stages then giving people deliverables in each Stage. I found HumanEdj much simpler and quicker than typical project management tools (I’ve tried BaseCamp, Zoho, MS Project, and many more). HumanEdj is especially useful for doing the work in a plan, since HumanEdj automatically puts documents, chat messages, etc just where you want them.

  2. FMYI [for my innovation] is a collaboration site where you store and share information securely with your team. Everyone gets their own social networking-style profile page. People can create additional pages to post messages, files, links, tasks, events, and more for projects, contacts, resources or anything else you need to achieve your goals.

  3. I will add . Unlike all others here on this great list it really let people be must more efficient when it comes to meetings. Whether they meet live or online lets people prepare for the meeting, run the meeting and followup the results. I think they are still beta.

  4. Great list! I’ve used many of these as well.

    Although it wasn’t available when this list was made, I’d like to put a good word out for Fellowstream. It’s not only a great collaboration tool, but it’s also super simple to use for personal task management. It’s like doing both at the same time in some ways, and I’ve found it extremely useful.

  5. webgeek

    Awesome list. I had not heard of redliner or will check them out. Agree with Benjamin – there should be some communication tools in this list. whats collaboration without communication! :)

    Benjamin – we use for our communications. works very well as our team is all over the world.

  6. I’d like to add Ubidesk(

    Ubidesk is a web-based application that provides online workspaces for effective team collaboration. Ubidesk allows team members to collaborate on documents, share files, and manage tasks with easy-to-use interface. Multiple projects can be created with a separate access control for each project, which makes it possible to have multi-level security clearance within a workspace.


  7. Great list. Some of the software we use everyday at collaboration king is here.

    One of the things we have struggled with is companies going out of business and us having to manually download and upload all of our collaborative work to another system.

    Therefore we started making a list of those that we considered and then the top 3 in each area. We only chose one- which we don’t mention…

    Hope this helps others reading this who are interested in the best collaboration software out there! Comments always welcome.

  8. I’d like to suggest adding WizeHive ( to the list for group collaboration. By creating private workspaces for projects and/or events, you can invite unlimited members to the conversation and share notes, documents, and calendars, as well as track the progress of task assignments. Then you can pull back and look across ALL of the workspaces at once for truly increased productivity. Recent activity is displayed in real time, and you can send notes and tasks into your workspace via email or Twitter.

    There are multiple plans available, including a free one. 30 day free trial of Plus plan demonstrates full capabilities for all signups.

  9. Sebastian thanks for touching the topic of online collaboration which indeed is very hot at the moment. Two aspects of collaboration that are especially growing are social collaboration and mobility.

    From this point of view you could have a look at It offers free social workspaces that increase information transparency and team productivity.

    More than 1000 companies have signed up for the service since last year and we’re already hailed as one of the most promising internet startups in the Nordics.

  10. I will add . It has Group collaboration tools like group folder with unlimited members, file version history (all versions of a given file are accessible), file locking, event notification, web chat and hotlinks for files and folders for sharing. In the future versions project management tools will be added.’s free version has 10GB online storage and one group folder with unlimited members! A paid version with more online storage and project management tools will be available in the future.