Under a Groove
Under a Groove The Groove 1.1 enterprise-class peer computing platform is a beefed-up collaboration application that allows users to create shared spaces for small group interactions.Groove 1.1, which was released last month, is priced at $49 per user. A free preview edition can be downloaded at www. groove.net. The upgraded software offers the standard collaboration tools found in other groupware/collaboration software suites such as Microsoft Corp.s Exchange Server and Centrinity Inc.s First Class, including instant messaging, chat and voice chat capabilities, threaded discussions, calendars, and document sharing. However, it also provides new message history logging, integration with Microsoft Office and NetMeeting, and co-Web browsing. We tested Groove 1.1 on a 60-node test network running Windows 2000 Professional clients. Installation was quick and simpleregistering to the relay server took merely seconds. The user interface was easy to follow, and screen views enabled us to follow the progress of multiple projects simultaneously. Adding members was a breeze, and the interface showed which users were online and which ones were off. Messages and chat sessions were simple to open and close as needed. When we created a shared space and invited users to join, Grooves administration tools enabled us to quickly bestow Manager, Participant or Guest privileges on each user. As a Manager, we could view all members on the screen and what sections they were in. The co-Web browsing tool, which enables everyone in a group to see a particular Web site, was very helpful. Documents can be edited in real time, and users can work on the same document concurrently, with latest versions being displayed. The steep downside is that theres no version control: Updated documents take precedent, and old documents cant be recovered. Currently, Groove 1.1 does not integrate with any document management product. However, the platform does include an open-source Groove Development Kit, and this development kits open API gives outside vendors the ability to tailor applications and customize and expand the platforms capabilities.
Leveraging P2P architecture for online and offline work and one-to-one or one-to-many collaboration, Groove offers flexibility to users. However, it lacks document version control and its administration features are weak; plus, its limited to Windows 9x, NT and 2000 environments. (Macintosh and Linux support is planned.)