My colleague Sadie and I have had the opportunity this week to test a new application for ad hoc file sharing and collaboration. It is free, relatively simple to install and use, and somewhat limited in its initial functionality.
The product is called "Tubes," perhaps an ironic nod to Senator Ted Stevens, or more obliquely to the band responsible for "She's a Beauty" and "Talk To Ya Later." It's brought to market by Adesso, a Boston-based company noted for their efforts around syncing technologies.
Adesso Tubes installs a client-side application, with a pointer to a synch server that is currently "in the cloud." Accordingly, the install and administration are pretty simple; I was up and "tubing" within about 10 minutes of starting the process.
Once in the application, you have a "Navigator" application similar in size to an IM window, where you can see a summary of your tubes. You can modify the icons for each tube, and you are informed of new updates to your tubes via a small bar next to the tube icon (not pictured).
If you open a tube, you see an "Explorer" screen where you can see:
- the files stored in the Tube
- the users with access to the Tube (and their rights)
- your preferences for the Tube
I have added screenshots below.
-- it's free (OK, get that one out of the way early)
-- it traverses firewalls, although not through proxy servers in this version
-- it contains on-line/off-line capabilities
-- synch, in our testing, worked reasonably smoothly and quickly
-- not integrated with SharePoint or Office technologies
-- pretty rudimentary security model (limited roles, etc.)
-- still a beta, early in product lifecycle
Some notable "Web 2.0-ish" themes are at work here, namely:
-- launch as a consumer tool, free, marketed virally, positioned as a tool for sharing user-contributed content
-- most of the technology (although not all -- you can't have offline without a client) is "in the cloud"
All in all, if you've got some requirements for file-level collaboration, this is a nice way to get a taste. It is making me hunger for Microsoft's more robust Groove collaboration tools, which I intend to start using once I'm able to upgrade to Office 2007 on my production machine.