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Chatbox Adds a Collaboration Layer to Dropbox

Chatbox is a Mac (s aapl) app that adds simple collaboration features to popular cloud file sharing and storage service Dropbox. It allows you to post status updates and comment on the files stored within your Dropbox account, and even chat in real-time with other Chatbox users. Cleverly, all communication and storage is done via your Dropbox account, so there’s no need to register a separate Chatbox account, and the app will also work offline, syncing data when an Internet connection becomes available.

The Chatbox application’s window has a fairly basic interface: a field for entering status updates or comments at the top, with a pane showing recent updates underneath. It’s a fairly basic app, but if all you need is a simple way to discuss, comment on, or annotate the files you store and share via Dropbox, it works pretty well. A couple of minor criticisms I have of the app: There doesn’t appear to be a way to edit or delete Chatbox updates that have previously been posted, and also it’s not immediately obvious how you associate a Chatbox status update with a particular file. (You need to right-click on the file and select “Show Chatbox” to bring up the Chatbox window for that file; any updates are then associated with that file).

Dropbox isn’t the only file storage available, but its popularity and open API mean there’s a thriving ecosystem of third-party apps built on top of it. Chatbox is a pretty useful add-on (not bad for what was apparently a weekend project), but I wouldn’t be surprised to see developers building on this concept and bringing out more full-featured and polished collaboration apps for Dropbox.

Chatbox is a free app currently in beta and only available for Mac OSX; you can download it here. It requires a Dropbox account.

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