By Michael Caton  |  Posted 2004-10-11 Print this article Print

For teams that need to collect, organize and share content found on the Web, Net Snippets Ltd.s Net Snippets Enterprise edition does a good job of marrying an efficient desktop collection or organization application with a content management server for sharing the data.

Net Snippets Enterprise edition, which began shipping last month, includes the $130 Net Snippets Professional 3.2 client and the $2,500 Net Snippets Sharing and Collaboration Server. In eWEEK Labs tests, we could easily collect, organize and share a broad range of content, from Web pages to e-mail, using the client and server.

Although Net Snippets Enterprise is not a hosted service like collaboration solutions such as Intranets.com Inc.s namesake service or Intuit Inc.s QuickBase, it falls into that same realm of applications that can be run with minimal IT intervention. We recommend it as a simple and inexpensive way for teams to share researched data, such as competitive sales and marketing information.

The Net Snippets Professional edition is a Windows-based tool for organizing information and can run either in a pane within Internet Explorer or as a desktop application. As we collected information in the form of Web pages or documents, the application prompted us for metadata. Net Snippets automatically captures some metadata, such as location or digests, from Web pages.

In addition to Web pages, we could also capture any file for sharing, including e-mail messages, although Net Snippets leaves data in its native format. Wed like to see Net Snippets add the ability to grab structured data, such as from a spreadsheet, and be able to share it in a structured way.

The major difference between Net Snippets and its most direct competitor, Onfolio Inc.s Professional edition, is Net Snippets ability to share data on one server. The Net Snippets Sharing and Collaboration Server is a basic Web-sharing repository that runs on IIS (Internet Information Services) and requires Microsoft Corp.s .Net Framework. The server includes a basic management console that we used to manage users, groups and folder size.

The tight integration with the browser makes managing data and the server relatively seamless. For example, the Net Snippets client includes shortcuts for changing folder permissions, which brings up the administration console within the browser. The desktop tool bar also gave us the ability to use Net Snippets with Mozilla and to pull data from the client and drop it into a Microsoft Word document.

Publishing content and creating reports was easy using Net Snippets. The client includes a report generator with an embedded HTML editor for customizing reports and organizing styles. The client also includes a tool for packaged distribution of content to users in absence of the server.

Packaging data is limited to Net Snippets file format, although we could distribute those files with a portable file viewer. Wed like the option of packaging files in MHTML (Messaging HTML) format, as we could with Onfolio. We also would like broader publishing options on the server side, such as a one-click publish command that would make shared data available to a broader group of users.

Technical Analyst Michael Caton can be reached at michael_caton@ziffdavis.com.

Check out eWEEK.coms Messaging & Collaboration Center at http://messaging.eweek.com for more on IM and other collaboration technologies.

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