Collaboration software are essential in today’s business world as businesses are no longer confined to a single geographic region. Group collaboration software gives the entire business team access to business documents and files from anywhere on the world, thereby allowing them to work together despite the vast physical distances existing among the individuals. Collaboration software aren’t just limited to businesses – any person can make use of these tool where group activity is required but all members of the group cannot be physically present at the same location.
CoWord is a Microsoft Office addon that transforms MS Word into a real-time multi-user collaborative word processor. With CoWord, you and your entire group can access and edit the same MS Word document at anytime over the Internet and the changes made to the document are reflected immediately for all users to see. CoWord changes Word from a single user application to a multi-user platform. The good part is – CoWord is free.
CoWord has two components – a server side application and a client side application. The server component is to be installed on the computer which functions as the central repository – the one which is authorized to hold all documents. The client component is to be installed on all the rest of the computers from where the documents are to be accessed. The server computer should also have a hostname or a static IP address so that other users can connect to it over a network.
Setting up and configuring the server is extremely easy. The sever administrator creates password protected user accounts for each individual who will access the files, and assigns permissions to them that includes uploading and downloading documents, deleting files and creating directories. Using the assigned username and password an individual can connect to the server and begin accessing files restricted by the limitations set by the administrator for that individual.
Each person logged into the network sees an extra toolbar on MS Word giving them access to various tools required during collaboration. For instance, they can highlight the changes they make to the document so that it’s noticeable to the other users working on the document, or enter into a private mode where the changes are not transmitted to other users. They can also create checkpoints during editing, undo changes they made or even undo changes made by all others.
The sever admin can see which users are currently logged into the network and even kick them out of it. Log files are available showing information like time of login, time of logout, files accessed and so on.
For collaborating MS PowerPoint files, there is CoPoint that uses the same collaborative engine that runs CoWord. CoPoint has to be installed separately.
Both CoWord and CoPoint are so simple to use that anybody with absolutely no knowledge on networking and server software can install and use it. Word 2007 users will be disappointed to learn that CoWord supports only MS Word 2003, XP and 2000.