There's a new game in town for online productivity applications. It hails from Adobe and if you like the look and feel of flash, you will like this suite of applications. The suite is called Acrobat.com and contains three applications that are required for almost all business needs. But does it compare to Zoho or Google Docs? We played around a little to see.Developed using Adobe's AIR technology, this set of applications include basic wordprocessing, document/file sharing and online live meetings.
Buzzword is a basic wordprocessing application similar in functionality to Google Docs. It has all the standard functionality most users are looking for in a fancy interface. You can import various document formats including Microsoft doc and docx. In addition you can export to these document formats and a number of others including PDF.
You can invite others to view or collaborate on your documents with you. It's as simple as sending them an email to join the fun. They don't have to have adobe accounts to collaborate on your documents.
Additional functionality includes:
* Versioning capabilities - Maintains version information in a single document and you can view the version history at any time.
* Automatic saving - This one sort of throws you off because you expect to save your document at least the first time -- not in Buzzword.
* Commenting - Viewers, reviewers, collaborators can all make comments on your document. When you export your document to another format, you can choose to include comments with the document.
* Real-time status - See who's working on or looking at your document in real-time.
Buzzword is a good application. It has a clean interface and offers all the functionality you would generally expect to use on a regular basis. The "flashy" interface is a bit distracting but you would probably get use to it.
ConnectNow is Adobe's online live meeting and collaboration application. You can invite any number of users to a meeting and then share your desktop with them.
You can choose to automatically accept someone into your meeting or manually accept/reject their entrance.
ConnectNow has all the functionality seen in other live meeting applications including:
* Chat - Chat with a single meeting member or with the group as a whole
* Notes - Take notes on the session
* Meeting Control - Give control of the meeting to another collaborator
* Audio and Video Conferencing - Turn on your web cam or microphone and join the fun, or provide other conference call information
* Whiteboarding - Mark up your screen and then save the changes to a png file
This was a really fun application to try out. It was really easy and straightforward to use. Participants do not have to register with Adobe and the URL for the meeting room is always the same. An important note is that this version on supports up to three participants. To have a bigger meeting you need to get Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro. So it's good for collaboration on a small scale.
Adobe provides the ability to store your files online and share them with others. You can even share your Buzzword documents in the File Sharing interface. Just select the document you want to share or if it's not online already, upload it and then share it. You invite others to share via email invitation. You can choose to let people collaborate or just view your documents. In some cases you can open documents directly inside the interface (not Office Word docs). Easy add or remove users access to your documents as well.
Another interesting feature is the ability to insert your document into a website, wiki or blog by generating a piece of html code that you insert in the other application. Storing Files Online Adobe gives you 5GB of online storage for your files. But there are a number of files you can't upload including a number of video and audio file formats, archive formats, executables and database files. Be sure to check out the entire restriction list. Create PDF Adobe has extended it's Create PDF capability to the suite for a maximum of 5 PDF creations. Most of the standard productivity software formats are supported to convert including Microsoft Office files, Open Office, Star Office, Wordperfect and a number of image formats. There is a 200MB file size limit for documents to convert.
If you think you need more than 5 conversions, you either need to subscribe to Adobe's online services or purchase Adobe Acrobat 9.
You can integrate these online document services into your own website using Adobe's API. The API provides a set of REST Web Service interfaces to work with. It's available for free on their developer wiki. Create mashups or entirely new applications, it's your choice.
If you are a Google Docs or Zoho user, you probably aren't going to switch to Acrobat.com. Both of these services also offer spreadsheet and presentation capabilities. that aren't available on acrobat.com. You may however, consider the ConnectNow application for collaboration with one or two other participants.