Sea creature meets collaboration tool: Octopz

Share your files and work together with Octopz, a new collaboration tool premiering at the Web 2.0 Expo.

Octopz(pronounced 'Octopus') is a Web-based, online collaboration tool for small groups. It's one of the many companies presenting at next week's Web 2.0 Expo here in San Francisco, and is making its public launch on Monday.

Octopz runs in its own browser window and uses Adobe Flash to mix a whiteboard space with live text, voice, and video chat. The workspace has an area to upload and share files with other group members. Each uploaded file gets its own folder, which houses any edits made by group members. For example, if you're making notes on a digital photograph, other members can create a copy of that photo and add their own notes. Each version is neatly stacked underneath the original. All group edits are saved and stored, and can be shared and edited later for asynchronous collaboration.

Things get a little tricky with Octopz's multiuser controls. Anyone can grab control of the workspace at any time, which in testing led to some minor power struggles. There's also not a way to keep track of which group member made which edits, either with a history or differentiating colors per each user. Despite these issues, Octopz handled a four-person conference from three different geographical locations smoothly.

Where Octopz excels is its simplicity. It's incredibly easy to pick up and use. It reminds me a lot of Acrobat Connect, a product Adobe launched in January, although sans screen sharing.

Octopz comes in at $99 per month per license, which is twice the cost of the standard version of Adobe Connect. However unlike Acrobat Connect, Octopz lets businesses create an unlimited amount of rooms and users, something you don't even get with Adobe's professional level of Acrobat Connect service.

See also: Vyew, Conceptshare, and Webex for Web-based collaborative tools.

Update: Fixed pricing clarification regarding comparison to Acrobat Connect. Also, Octopz was picked as one of our Top 5 favorites from the Web 2.0 Expo earlier this month.

You can add stickies to the canvas, and mark up the page with a drawing tool. CNET Networks

For more screenshots of Octopz in action, keep reading.

Group members can draw on and annotate all sorts of media. In this case it's a digital photo...and a lot of creativity.
Adding notes to a video frame. Each edit is listed underneath the source list on the left.
CNET Networks
Octopz's whiteboarding feature lets any group member draw out ideas--even if they're bad. CNET Networks

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About the author

Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.

 

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