8apps: Productivity and social networking come together

8apps is a suite of free Web-based programs that combine social networking with productivity.

8apps is a suite of Web-based collaboration applications. It's got the look and feel of a site made for casual users but is aimed at small groups who need a place to get business and social networking done in the same place.

Right now there are only three applications to play around with, (Handshake, Orchestrate, and Blueprint) but five more are due out by this fall. The eventual goal is to have eight applications that can be used and managed from one place, kind of like what you get with Zoho's offerings, but more experimental.

Orchestrate and Blueprint both fall under the category of productivity. Orchestrate is an easy-to-manage creation tool for to-do lists. Users can create and edit a series of to-do lists, color code them, and even share them with other 8apps contacts (more on that later). It's pretty easy to use and can handle many different lists at once. Blueprint is a brainstorming tool similar to what you'd get with a white board and some post-it notes. Users can add comments, keywords, and live URLs to the board, although only the owner of the Blueprint can maneuver them around the virtual canvas.

Handshake is 8apps' social-networking application. It lets you make a personalized profile, browse users, and join groups. Each group has its own message board, but that's about it. I'd like to see some event management implementation, so groups can link their Orchestrate or Blueprint projects to the group.

Once you've got a few contacts on 8apps, it's easy to add them to your Orchestrate and Blueprint projects. There is, however, no way to add non-8apps users to your projects as guests--something I think most people would find quite useful.

8apps is fast, slick, and simple. I like where this idea is going, as working on projects with other people from different geographical locations often means using public computers or machines that might not have the right software. That being said, it's still a little ways off before I'd use it instead of 37signals or Zoho for my collaborative needs. 8apps is in private beta. We've got 15 beta invites to give out. If interested, leave your e-mail in 'you(at)mail.com' style in the comments.

[via Museum of Modern Betas]

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