Tonight I wanted to collaborate with a few friends on a diagram–basically just an org chart. This being the age of online collaboration, we tried all the web-based tools we could find which were:
We quickly discovered that they are all lame. This is why.
Thinkature – Once we got several shapes on there I was no longer able to move things around without things jumping all over the place. It was also very limited in that you can’t cut and paste or duplicate sheets. Really this was probably the best of the bunch for what we were trying to do, but not because it was good.
ConceptShare – This one looks really nice, but it’s not made for flowcharting so maybe I shouldn’t even include it in this list. I will say that they did a great job on the interface and I imagine that it serves its purpose (sharing designs) well. One thing I noticed, and the reason I’m including it is because I wanted to comment on this, was that the lowest priced for-pay plan is $19 a month… that’s $228 a year and you can’t even custom brand it at that price. At the $1188 a year plan you get that feature. I think I’ll stick to posting an image online and making a conference call to discuss it.
Imagination Cubed – This is a fun toy. There is no built in chat, no undo and just not enough features to make it feasible for our purposes despite the smooth interface.
Vyew – By far the most featured, you can share desktops, add maps, draw lines and shapes etc. but you can’t have a box with text in it… at least not without using one of the plugins which is frankly almost better than nothing at all in its current state. Vyew might have potential, but right now the tools are very awkward and it’s nowhere near as easy to use as OmniGraffle or Visio. TechCrunch called it ‘fantastic,’ I’d call it passable.
In the end what did we end up doing? Nothing really… we spent the time pondering the lameness of web based collaboration and we’ll probably just make it in some desktop application and email the file back and forth. I’d be happy to know if anyone else has found a better option.
Ahh. I knew I’d given up too soon. Not to disappoint readers on a blog called “Best Tool for the Job,” I felt obligated to continue the search (thank me later :)). I just re-found Gliffy.com and it works like a charm. The collaboration part isn’t real-time–it looks like you have to click a revision in the list on the right to get updates and there is no built in chat, but otherwise it works really nice.
It has (almost) every feature we need and even some fun ones we don’t. Nice.