By Michael Caton  |  Posted 2004-12-06 Print this article Print

eWEEK Labs tested the stand-alone version of MindAlign, which differs from both Team Sessions and the competing Jabber Inc. XCP in that its focus is on creating real-time group discussions rather than using underlying IM tools to create group discussions on top of an IM platform.

We generally liked the way the stand-alone version of MindAlign worked in our tests. In fact, we think the separation of MindAlign from an IM platform makes the Parlano tool a good choice for building outward-facing group collaboration applications. The trade-off, however, is that MindAlign is more limited when it comes to communicating one-to-one with other users.

Unlike Team Sessions, MindAlign is a combination of Web-based and Windows-based applications. The client application used for participating in discussions is Windows-based, and users employ a Web browser to manage group discussions, called Channels, as well as individual settings. We liked that this Web-based application can run within the MindAlign client as well.

MindAlign organizes discussions in one pane using a tree and folder structure, rather than the more traditional tab model . Users of the system are viewed by buddy lists organized in folders or as members of a given channel. We could also organize the filters we used to monitor channels in this tree structure.

We found that this structure makes it cumbersome to start private chats, especially compared with the frame-and-tab approach taken by Team Sessions and Jabber. MindAlign for Live Communications Server works in much the same way that Team Sessions does, by using Live Communications Server to provide presence information and one-to-one IM capabilities.

Click here to read Labs review of Team Sessions 1.0. In general, we found administration of MindAlign to be easy. We could delegate user management through four roles, as well as grant users limited administrative privileges for creating and managing Channels.

However, the administration screens could use some work. For example, performing routine tasks took more clicks than would seem necessary because list-based management is handled through secondary screens.

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

Check out eWEEK.coms for more on IM and other collaboration technologies.


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