Very Simple Collaborative Solution??
March 29, 2011 1:59 PM   Subscribe

Need very simple collaborative software for a new organization..

We've got a new local business group and we need a way to organize ourselves a little bit. We need to be able to 1) view/share/edit different documents and 2) manage emails for our members and 3) needs to be *very * user friendly - google docs challenges some of our users. And we need this (documents, emails and the ability to send letters) to be available to everyone in the organization.

I've looked at google wave, basecamp, google apps, and things along those lines, but in most cases the learning curve is too great for the folks on our committee. And a lot of it gets into project managment, which really isn't applicable here. Mad Mimi has a nicely dumbed down way of sending newsletters; I'm looking for something on par with that..

And just to complicate the search, it really needs to be free. Would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!
posted by doub1ejack to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Perhaps you should split the problem into two different solutions. Perhaps set up a google account for the organization, and use Gmail and the Calendar as those are probably fairly easy to use for everyone.

Then, set up Dropbox for the other files since it sounds like people are familiar with computers, but just not the whole cloud-based gDocs solution. That way people can use Word, Excel, etc (whatever they are familiar with) for documents and they will appear on their desktops just like they are used to.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 3:14 PM on March 29, 2011

Would dropbox be of use? You can use it to sync files across computers with different operating systems. It does require installing it on each computer so if google docs was a problem I'm not sure that this is easier....

It's free for 2GB though.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 3:15 PM on March 29, 2011

To simplify google docs somewhat, you could consider embedding the various documents on a google site and organize that very simply, rather than using google's standard documents home.
posted by kylej at 4:32 PM on March 29, 2011 is super simple, but does run $5/month (total though, not per user).
posted by webhund at 9:52 PM on March 29, 2011

Response by poster: I've been looking dropbox over and it's got a few problems. For one, in order for people to upload files they have to install the app on their machine and I would have to share a folder with them directly. Alternately I can put items in the Public Folder, but then they can't upload to the folder and Dropbox doesn't provide any way to show all the files in the Pubic Folder (although there are some python scripts like DropboxIndex and pyndexer that can get it done).

still looking..
posted by doub1ejack at 10:05 AM on March 31, 2011

Best answer: Well I wasn't able to find a solution, but I was able to create something that will serve the purpose. I built a simple site using a CMS called concrete5. It has a few important features:
  • very simple, capable permissions system lets users see only what is relevant

  • nice plugin for Mail Chimp to handle committee/member communications

  • quick setup time

  • template system was very easy to modify

  • Mail Chimp takes care of communications (although it is pretty one-way). For document sharing I installed google apps on the site and made the google login the same as each user's site login. I was hoping to keep all this on the same site but google's kind of a bitch about disallowing it's sites to show up in iframes so my users have to leave the site. But there's a nice link for them to follow and a lot of hand holding too, so I think it will work fine.

    But man, if someone ever wants to create a (truely) simple collaborative web tool, there is a big hole in the market here...
    posted by doub1ejack at 8:47 AM on April 21, 2011

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