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Collaboration Tools

Workgroup Collaboration

A workgroup collaboration tool is designed to provide infrastructure to enhance the productivity of a group of individuals working together. Most workgroup tools are optimized around a relatively fixed set of collaborators sharing a set of resources. At LBL, we know that a key component of these tools is the ability to easily share with outside collaborators (including those not in LDAP) and the ability to publish open content to the Web.

IT Provided:

Commons (Confluence) is a content management and workgroup tool that allows users to create Wiki pages, blogs, add comments, add attachments, and provides various tools for general-purpose collaboration.Macros allow you to quickly add and manage rich content and interactivity. Commons will be LBL's core "intranet" tool for sharing information among employees; however, in the near future, you'll be able to include external collaborators as well using Shibboleth.

Google Docs (Pilot) is a collaborative application with a wide array of functionality for web based authoring of documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Real-time collaboration on these documents is also possible within Google Docs.You can use all LBL Google services with your existing LBL Username/Password. Google Docs can also be shared with anyone with a Google account.

Google Sites (Pilot) provides team spaces with support for files, pages, lists, and embedded content. Google Sites is the easiest way to quickly put up content to share with your collaborators. You can give access to anyone with a Google account. Unauthenticated (public) viewing access is available as an option.

eRoom (Deprecated) is a browser-based workgroup collaboration application that includes more features than WebSpace or Windows Network File services. It can act as a repository for typical MS office documents, has some workflow capability, and offers some additional tools (e.g. databases, project tasks, mail box for incoming mail associated with the eRoom). eRoom also has a plugin that allows drop and drag and editing/saving back to eRoom.

Recommended (free with ads):

Google Groups:Google Groups is an informal group management tool from Google allowing for a mailing list, threaded discussion, and some basic pages and attachments functionality. Google Groups is an ad-supported service and is not integrated with LBL Google products. Google Groups has some features like the mailing lists which are not available (unfortunately) in Google Sites. Google Groups can also be enabled in a "self-registration" format, which Google Sites cannot do. Many informal multi-institution collaborations make use of Google Groups for lightweight collaborations.

Yahoo Groups: Yahoo Groups has all the features of Google Groups, but also adds database functionality and simple applications. Yahoo groups has been used by many informal science collaborations over the last decade. It is a mature, highly functional application.

Workgroup Collaboration - Build Your Own

  • Internal Options using WEBSNAP (plesk)
    • MediaWiki
    • Drupal
    • WordPress
  • Internal options using Virtual Machines (Linux or Windows VMs)

File Services

While these tools are also collaboration tools (since you can share content), they are primarily organized around storing and sharing files as contrasted with the

WebSpace : Home Directory and Shared folder accessed by a mapped network drive (WebDav), webfolders or a browser interface. Available anywhere from any platform. Offers user driven decentralized sharing of files and folders with staff at the lab as well as collaborators external to the lab (w/o requiring an account).

Windows Network File services : Home Directory and Shared folder access by a Windows Active Directory login script. Available on-site or through a virtual private network connection from off-site. Sharing must be coordinated through the IT Division - it cannot be decentralized.


I want to...

Create a space to easily share files and content for a group of 10 people, most of whom are outside LBL. Consider Google Sites

Share content privately with just people at Berkeley Lab. Consider Commons

Howto: Use Google Sites to...

... create a space to coordinate and share files with a review panel.

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Trends...Away from Thick Client Word Processing...

An increasing number of users are finding it easier to keep their data in the cloud and avoid the use of traditional word processor and spreadsheet tools entirely. While their replacements (like wiki pages and Google Docs) may not have the same feature set, you have the advantage of being able to access your documents anywhere, track all previous changes, and work directly with collaborators. You can get started by trying out Google Docs.

Trends...Towards Federated Identity...


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Help me choose:

We're here to help you choose the right collaboration tool for your project or workgroup. Send an email to We'll draw from our experience with dozens of tools (not just the tools we offer), to help you find the right one for you.

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