Tech Thursday – Shareflow

Yes, it’s Friday, but I didn’t want to change the name.

We do a lot of collaboration on our team working on documents and projects together. I have highlighted some of the tools we use for that: Dropbox, SugarSync, Evernote, Google Wave, and of course, good “old fashioned” email. The one we use for our sermon preparation has been Google Wave. It is a great product, but it has two drawbacks:

  • The first is it requires a gmail account for anyone to access it. This isn’t a major issue, but it does limit the accessibility for some at first and it requires those on the team who do not use gmail to add another account to keep track of.
  • The second is the fact that Google is no longer supporting Wave and has not replaced its functions with anything else. It is only a matter of time until this tool is no longer available at all.

We have been on the search for a suitable replacement. We have a found a good one, but it is not perfect. It has one drawback keeping it from being the exact tool we are needing. We’ll get to that in a moment.

This new tool is called Shareflow. It is a free service that has some very nice features. I’ll just focus on how we are currently using it. It does have some features that we are not using at this time, but very easily could in the future. We just started using this with our current two sermon series we are working on.

We use a procedure very similar to what we were doing in Google Wave before.

We start by creating a new “Flow” for an upcoming sermon series. After posting the initial outline and guide for the series, we invite the applicable team members to share in that flow. We have a base team that is our teaching and prep team, but from time to time, we include others based on the topics and plans for a particular series. Adding new members is easy, just type in their email (any) and an invite is sent. It is not specific to gmail, yahoo, or any other provider.

Shareflow allows for a user to manage multiple flows at one time and easily see or hide the flows with a simple click on the left hand side of the screen.

After the members accept the invite, they have full access to each of the flows of which they are a part. As we work through each message, the team can respond with comments and ideas and everyone on the team has equal access and input. This is where the one drawback comes in. In Wave, a team member has the ability to insert a comment anywhere in the discussion including inside someone else’s comment/contribution. In Shareflow, at this time, comments are linear only and added to the end like a chat. This just requires each contributor to be specific about what they are replying to.

I very much like the clean look and interface of Shareflow, it is better than the cluttered look of Google Wave.

There is an iPhone app available, but the mobile site version works very well on all mobile devices I have seen. It is easy to use, easy to add anyone, and it is free. At this time, it is the best Wave replacement we have found and even solves one of our ongoing issues with the exclusivity of Wave.

Have you found any online collaboration tool that works well for you and your team?