Collaboration is the new cloud

Dropbox’s Project Harmony aims to make Office docs easier to edit

As this past summer showed, all the big cloud players are gung-ho on workplace collaboration. After all, if you’re already storing tons of documents, it makes sense to layer features on top of those files so that people will stick with your product and not bail to another system. And so in that vein, Dropbox on Thursday said that its Project Harmony work-collaboration tool is now available in early access for Dropbox for Business customers.

Project Harmony basically lets users share notes, comments and edits with each other on [company]Microsoft[/company] Office-related programs like Word and Excel. The idea is that having a collaboration tool built on top of Office will significantly cut down on the amount of emails a team might send to each other when working together on a single document, like a Powerpoint presentation, explained Dropbox product manager Matt Holden.

Now, an organization can add team members to a specific Powerpoint document so that only those specific people are the ones able to edit it.

Dropbox Project Harmony presentation figure
Dropbox Project Harmony presentation figure

A Dropbox icon should appear on all Microsoft files so that users can keep tabs of who is editing and should be able to see a “full history of the document” that includes any changes made, explained Holden.

“If she starts making a change we can automatically detect that and broadcast it,” said Holden.

Dropbox Project Harmony figure 2
Dropbox Project Harmony figure 2
Dropbox Project Harmony figure 3
Dropbox Project Harmony figure 3

The collaboration tool currently supports different operating systems like Windows and Mac OS. As of now, Project Harmony only works with Microsoft applications, which makes sense considering Dropbox partnered up with Microsoft in early November to make sure Dropbox works well with Office.

In regards to the Dropbox for Business API that was unveiled last week, Holden said that Project Harmony is separate from the API, but hinted that the two could eventually be linked, which would let users build business apps that have collaboration abilities.

Project Harmony should be available for all Dropbox for Business customers early next year, he said.

3 Responses to “Dropbox’s Project Harmony aims to make Office docs easier to edit”

  1. This is a pretty low level of collaboration. There are a lot more advanced tools by Msft, Dropbox and Google partners that provide encrypted sharing of documents and emails, pop up virtual team rooms and revoke after sending and sharing. But those companies don’t have a $10B valuation and a PR agency so…

  2. Doesn’t well of Microsoft’s inability to create a real-time collaboration platform for Office documents. I’m still stuck sending Word documents by e-mail or putting on a shared network drive. I can’t even edit it at the same time. Let’s see… I started using Office in 1997. 17 years later, I still can’t collaborate a Word document with a colleague without using non-Office tools. I pay money to Microsoft for what?

    • sunk818, Office 365 has real-time collab, but like any other real-time system managing change can become problematic – and you’re stuck using the web tools or have to jump through some hoops with OneDrive. If you’re interested is have a similar capability but still retaining some method of change control, AND stick to your existing workflow just saving from your desktop, AND be able to do so across any mix of desktop or cloud storage we may be able to help you. Check us out @, Tech Preview is going out to first batch of adopters real soon.