What options do I have for hosted project collaboration sites?
January 30, 2007 3:16 PM   Subscribe

What options do I have for hosted project collaboration sites?

I've used Microsoft bCentral.com SharePoint sites for project collaboration with clients for the past few years. Now that Microsoft no longer allows for new bCentral/SharePoint sites, they are pushing Microsoft Office Live as the replacement. I've set up a trial account, and am poking around to make sure I can do everything in Live that bCentral did. The primary functionality that I utilize the most on the bCentral SharePoint sites is contact info, issues tracking, user accounts, alerts, and document sharing, behind a password protected login.

It appears, for the most part, that the same functionality is available under Live. However, the part that bothers me to the point of abandoning the MS solution is that if I add user accounts to the site to utilize these tools, they have to have a Microsoft Live ID in order to access the site and utilize the tools. I don't want to force my clients to create a Live ID (which is an MSN Passport account requiring personal information) just to use the site. bCentral didn't require this.

The more I tinker with MS Office Live, the more I despise it. That said, I think I need to look at other options.

Would like to hear from MeFites with experience with other paid, hosted, project collaboration sites. I've taken a cursory glance at basecamp. Although it looks promising, I need to sell my colleagues on whatever solution I decide on, and I fear that they will be concerned that it is not hosted by a "big name" company (think MS, IBM, etc). I work for a medium-sized but well-known company, so there is a concern that our tools should not be too obscure. Internally we utilize the Microsoft SharePoint technology (for intranet/team sites) quite successfully, although I am not bound to stick with MS for client-facing projects.

So, to reiterate, I need experiential feedback for hosted proven, secure, robust project collaboration sites.
posted by tdischino to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Create MSN Passport ID's for them? Just say "Okay, here's the platform we're using, this is your log and pw."

Failing that, I've used Basecamp and really quite like it.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:58 PM on January 30, 2007

Basecamp is pretty much the gold standard for this kind of thing. When I was managing web projects as a software company owner, I used it quite a bit for a few years... there's not much to say about it 'cept it pretty much rocks.

Since I work more on the tech side of things as a programmer and release manager these days, I'm using Trac more and more. I like the wiki, and with some patching and hacking, I've got it set up certain sections of the site that certain people can see.
posted by SpecialK at 3:58 PM on January 30, 2007

As SpecialK says, Basecamp is almost superb. The main reason I enjoy it is for its simplicity, but this can also be problematic.

My one major annoyance is in the very simple approach to task management. For example, users can't assign tasks to other users: they can add things to a to-do list, but can't dictate who is going to perform the task. Only admins can do that. Equally, there is no simple way to attach a deadline or priority to a task. I can live with these limitations but they may be a deal-breaker for you.

ActiveCollab is an open-source version of Basecamp and is therefore customisable. Here's a side-by-side comparison of the two.

As I said, sometimes simplicity works. Every discussion I've ever seen about Trac, for example, contains some variation of the phrase "after I hacked it up to my liking..."
posted by blag at 6:32 PM on January 30, 2007

I don't like plugging my own solutions when it comes to things like this, but the company I founded is about to launch an application that's been pretty successful with people who've been with Basecamp and needed a change for one reason or another.

We built Goplan because there wasn't any solution out there that packed all the features we needed from an online project management application, and because we needed flexibility, we let people toggle features on and off, to give them what they need and get out of the way. Goplan has file management, notes, task management, issue tracking, calendar (with syncing) and real time chat.

While it officially launches in february, we're already on feature-freeze (and have around 2 thousand people using it) and ramping up the invitations. You can try it on our sandbox (although it doesn't run the very latest version).
posted by fredoliveira at 6:44 PM on January 30, 2007

fred, I love your company's name. Damnit, I wanted that name... I just didn't know it yet.
posted by SpecialK at 7:05 PM on January 30, 2007

And ... want a good laugh? Your home desk looks almost exactly like my home desk, just add a bunch of books and paperwork and make the monitor a Dell 20" panel...
posted by SpecialK at 7:07 PM on January 30, 2007

Glad you're into the name :-) It isn't an easy name to live with, actually (I posted about it earlier, actually). My home desk was actually pretty tidy when that picture was taken. It has a lot of paperwork and books right now. And 2 ipods, a laptop, and food. Thinking about it, it definitely needs "cleaning". I can build applications to help people manage projects, but unfortunately there's no way I can build an application to help me clean my desk.
posted by fredoliveira at 7:11 PM on January 30, 2007

Response by poster: I'm definitely looking for something hosted, so ActiveCollab isn't up my ally.

Fred, although this is not exactly what I set out looking for, I'm intrigued. Would there be options for importing task/category data?
posted by tdischino at 8:38 PM on January 30, 2007

Response by poster: dirtynumbangelboy,

creating Live IDs for other people is not an option for what I am doing. They require email verification (with wording like "To help prevent unauthorized account creation, we need you to confirm your e-mail address"), and i'm just leery about setting up a third party account for a client resource.
posted by tdischino at 8:41 PM on January 30, 2007

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