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Under the Radar: Battle of the collaboration tools, tryptophan

Three of four presenters focused on spreadsheets, but all four of them centered on making it easier to work with others.

Presenters for the post-lunch session today focused on two challenges. First was how to help people simultaneously collaborate on projects. Equally important was how to keep a room full of sleepy bloggers, analysts, and venture capitalists awake and alert after a lunch of turkey sandwiches. Luckily, we've played with all four of these applications before, and so we stuck with the roast beef.

Editgrid kicked off the round of presentations. Instead of PowerPoint, they used a tabbed spreadsheet in Editgrid to present. One of the really great features of Editgrid, which we've discussed before, is the option to archive and roll-back various versions of your work--something you don't get in Excel without managing a folder of file back-ups. Also notable is an Editgrid spreadsheet containing a feature comparison between Editgrid to Google Spreadsheets. It's one the most popularly shared spreadsheets on the service.

SmartSheet is another shared spreadsheet application, but it is aimed at small teams. Smartsheet has a handy feature for tracking and easily pulling the history for each individual cell in a spreadsheet. This provides several extended possibilities beyond just entering data. You still have to hit a button to save your work, which is something we've griped about in the past.

Wrike was a good follower to SmartSheet's presentation. Wrike is similar to SmartSheet, but has the added benefit of giving users the option to push tasks to the Wrike project tool whenever they get cc'd via e-mail. See our hands-on demo here..

Xcellery is the only tool presenting today that uses Microsoft Excel. In fact, it does something that--even 11 versions later--you still can't do with the industry standard application. The one thing Xcellery doesn't do is real-time viewing of another person while he or she is typing on a cell--something we've gushed about with Google Docs and Spreadsheets. Luckily, the service will alert you if the other person is working on it and will give you the option to choose which person gets the edit. Previous coverage here.

Stay tuned as the next group up handles sharing through the Web, which should be interesting to watch after Zoho's announcement yesterday of their new meeting application..