Collaboration is an important part of any business process or operation. Or, perhaps, you’re working with a friend on a project for school. Whatever it is, sometimes you just don’t have the budget to purchase an expensive collaboration suite such as Microsoft SharePoint Server. So, what do you do? Do you just keep passing around a USB stick? Let’s look at some solutions that won’t cost you a dime and will give you similar functionality as SharePoint.
1. Google Cloud Connect
If you already have Microsoft Office, and you don’t want to end up using Google Docs because of its lack of rich features and slight awkwardness in the editing process, then Google Cloud Connect is the one for you. This simple plugin will connect you straight to Google Docs and let you collaborate with other people in document creation and management without any fuss, directly from Microsoft Word/Excel/PowerPoint.
While you’re editing, the Google Cloud Connect will automatically sync your changes over to its Docs application and send the new edits to all other team members using Microsoft Office simultaneously with you. Overlapping edits are mitigated with a procedure that allows you to pick and choose what edits you want to keep and which ones you would like to dump. See the video below for a demonstration of how the software works.
If you want the luxury package without paying a penny, you should probably try Alfresco. They offer a business-class collaboration product without charging anything. Their free platform allows you to collaborate on a number of different types of documents while also interacting with team members through their miniature social environment. Added to this, you get the ability to use mobile apps to work on anything from anywhere, with anyone, at any time. Whether you’re on the train, out of town, or taking a quick sip at a Starbucks, you’ll always have a way to stay connected with Alfresco’s ingenuous interface. Have a look at their demo video:
Their full enterprise document management platform will cost you a pretty penny, but their collaboration suite is free. If you’re looking to make some progress in your projects, you should call upon this service.
3. Kerio Workspace (Now Samepage)
If you’re looking to make webpages and can’t seem to find anything you can use in the other two solutions, you should consider using the Kerio Workspace (now known as Samepage). Their interface allows you to do everything the other two solutions mentioned above can do, except that it’s much more expansive in the types of files you can edit and it’s more professional. You’re guaranteed a more powerful experience with this suite, and you get a 10 GB account for free to boot (anything above that would cost you $10 per user per month, with 10 GB additional storage per user).
Here’s a demo of what the interface looks like:
This product started out as Kerio Workspace, an imitation of Microsoft SharePoint, and then became Samepage, a full-blown cloud collaboration suite that reaches far beyond what other SharePoint imitators could have achieved.
4. Liferay Social Office Community Edition (CE)
Liferay has recently updated their Social Office platform to introduce an easy-to-use interface that allows you to interact with team members and sync up all of your documents with little effort. Liferay is a downloadable desktop application, as opposed to other cloud-based solutions, for those of you who want the desktop experience. The community edition (CE) of Liferay Social Office is free, but you’ll have to pay for the Enterprise version.
Their interface looks something like this:
While it doesn’t seem to have a lot of flexibility with the syncing mechanism, there’s a lot to look forward to with the social aspects of this powerful application. Give it a shot and see if you like it.
5. Nuxeo Open-Source CMS
If you’re looking to get your hands on an open-sourced CMS, look no further than Nuxeo. This collaborative content management platform provides you with all the essentials you need to build a content-centric project. The interface and setup may be rather challenging, but once you get used to it, you can cut a lot of time off of your projects. Here’s a peek at its interface:
You’ll probably notice from the get-go that it lacks in any social interface. If you don’t mind this and have another way to communicate with your collaborators, this shouldn’t be too much of a big deal. The advantage you get with Nuxeo above all other collaboration platforms is control. You can control many more aspects of your project as it unfolds and categorize tasks in an organized manner without having to use commercial software. Best of all, Nuxeo works on multiple platforms as a desktop application.
Got Anything Else?
We’re always happy to hear from readers who have tried out other software and have found successful alternatives. If you think you’ve found something better than what was listed here, please comment about it below!