Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Someone Please Build the Facebook Office

In July, when this blog ran our Facebook Week, there was one article that I had planned that never made it to press. The article, called "The Facebook Office," was going to take a look at how to use Facebook as a groupware app for your team. Unfortunately, except for a handful of applications that didn't really seem to play nice together (such as the ones I highlighted in in my Top 10 Facebook Apps: Work list), there was no way to create a cohesive groupware environment in Facebook.

The best I could come up with was to use a private group to keep everyone in the loop, use 30 Boxes's Calendar app to share important dates, and Zoho's Online Office app to share documents. Hardly a Basecamp killer.

Today, AllFacebook points to a new application from DivShare called Projects. Basecamp it is not, but we're getting there.

Projects is more or less a private wall for anyone in your project (you can invite any of your friends) and a file sharing tool. Yeah, that's it. No shared planning tools, no lists, no milestones, no calendar, no chat. The project page promises that you can "view your documents, video and audio in Flash, without a download," but I couldn't get it to work for documents (I tried txt and doc files). It did work with audio, though (I didn't have any video files under 300mb handy to test out) and images displayed in browser. Documents it asked me to download.

The Projects app is really just a private message board in Facebook (one with oddly differing timestamps for the Wall and Files sections). It's certainly nowhere near robust enough for professional teams to use, but it could be helpful for college students collaborating on school projects to share notes and files and chat asynchronously about their work.

However, this is a wide open area that I am really surprised no one has tried to get into. It would be very helpful to have a full fledged project management application in Facebook. Remembering multiple passwords to various web apps (if your team uses an ad hoc solution) or multiple passwords to Basecamp (if you have more than one team) is a pain. Keeping it all under the Facebook umbrella would be very convenient. With 6000 applications, it is hard to sort through them all, so if you know of any project management or groupware apps on Facebook already, or if you're developing one, please let us know.

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