CoCreate Software Inc.s OneSpace.net collaboration work space does a good job of integrating messaging and collaboration with presence awareness to help engineers collaborate on designs. eWEEK Labs tests showed OneSpace.nets collaboration features are done well, but the administration could use improvement.
Available now, OneSpace.net can be purchased as a hosted service or licensed software, priced at $120 per user per month or $995 per user, respectively. This is aggressive pricing for a shared work space with these features.
We tested the hosted service and found that OneSpace.nets features do a good job of leveraging basic productivity tools as well as the design applications on which engineers rely. The collaboration, licensing and administrative features make it particularly easy to collaborate with design partners.
However, we found minor quirks with the user interface, and OneSpace.net could use stronger administrative features to control how the service is being used.
OneSpace.net has two components: Java-based Meeting Center, for managing interactions with other users, and Microsoft Corp. .Net-based Project Workspace, for organizing project teams, files and discussions.
IM (instant messaging) and e-mail drive initial interaction among team members. The IM application resides in Meeting Center, which makes it easy to store IM sessions in Project Workspace and start impromptu meetings. E-mail can also be used to schedule meetings and receive work-space activity summaries.
OneSpace.net has a number of tools that simplify its integration with other tools, including Microsoft Outlook. We liked the way the Meeting Center note-taking tool allowed us to create and delegate tasks, then synchronize them with the task list and Outlook. We could also save meeting notes as Adobe Systems Inc. PDF files.
Available as licensed software priced at $995 or as a hosted application for $120 per user per month, CoCreate Softwares OneSpace.net provides engineers with handy collaboration tools that should accelerate the design process. The product does a good job of integrating with Outlook and is easy to use, but it could use more management capabilities.
EVALUATION SHORT LIST
For engineers who need to share design data but havent created designs within the same application, CoCreate offers CAD data converters and the Model Explorer 2004 application for sharing and annotating designs. Model Explorer integrates well with OneSpace.net, offering the ability to post directly to Project Workspace as well as launch application sharing. However, using Model Explorer 2004s application-sharing feature to modify a design may not be as fast as sharing the design application.
The products security scheme relies on establishing trust with any team member invited to a project work space and encrypting session traffic. Users invite others via e-mail, and invitees e-mail is confirmed during the registration process. Project team leaders are responsible for user access management.
OneSpace.nets simplicity makes it easy to use but limits the options for creating user roles and easing some basic tasks. Only three user roles—team leader, member and guest—have specific permissions. We would like the ability to create and save customized roles for users and to create other roles that can be found in more general team work-space applications. Currently, a team leader can add some granularity on a per-user basis by managing file access rights.
Users can generate e-mail reports on a daily or event-driven basis, but the product lacks a unified event log that could be browsed or searched from within the application. We would also like to see tighter integration with the Windows file system, so we could save directly from within any application to a project work space.
OneSpace.nets work-space management approach differs from competing applications in that Meeting Center is an application and Project Workspace is accessed via Internet Explorer. Other team work-space applications, in contrast, work exclusively within a Web browser. OneSpace.net customers must therefore persuade partners to download and run the Meeting Center application on their desktop systems.
On the licensing side, a OneSpace.net client license is for an unnamed user, enabling companies to reuse client licenses as projects start and finish. Administrators can see who is using the product and how much it is being used by looking at the number of users within the system.
Company officials claim its possible to see whos using the software on a minute-by-minute basis, but this information isnt directly exposed to the administrator. Better auditing capabilities would make it easier to bill back to departments.
Technical Analyst Michael Caton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.