The market for collaborative applications has grown significantly with the introduction of Web-based solutions for gathering and sharing information within organisations. With that change, the collaborative software landscape has shifted as well, with veteran players like Lotus Notes pitted against relative newcomers such as Groove Networks (which has since been acquired by Microsoft).
There are also a number of open source collaborative platforms available, including popular Wiki software and open source groupware solutions (like Open Exchange, Open Groupware and Kolab).
In this review, we look at two of the most popular commercial collaborative platforms -- Lotus Notes/Domino 7.0 and Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2003 (Enterprise edition).
Although SharePoint isn't new, when it comes to collaboration software, it has to be considered in the buying cycle.
How we tested
We downloaded trial editions of both products and respective components, installed and configured them on separate servers. The software was then used to create a number of collaborative applications and workspaces, mimicking real-world usage.
We tested how easy it was to create a new collaborative application and what tools and templates were available to help speed development. We also looked at the development tools and skills required to create and maintain these applications, as well as how quickly the required skills could be obtained.
From the feature set, we specifically looked at features that aided collaboration among multiple users and how well they aided gathering and disseminating information. We also looked at the collaborative features included in each platform, including but not limited to features to help users communicate, collaborate and manage information.
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