Google Docs lets you collaborate on documents and spreadsheets while working online but if you want simple real-time collaboration for MS Office you can use OneDrum. OneDrum is a desktop application that lets you invite people to collaborate on MS Office documents. OneDrum works in the background and acts as a gateway between you and the people you want to collaborate with. All work is done in MS Office (Word, Excel, and Power Point) programs while the app seamlessly synchronizes the changes as they happen in real-time.
OneDrum installs on your desktop and when launched, opens in a window with options to invite people, add contacts, chat and share files. To use the desktop application, you need to sign up for a free account with OneDrum; for now accounts are free but a premium account plan is in the works.
When you create a new account, OneDrum sends an email and a temporary auto generated password to your email. The password must be reset when you login for the first time. The quick start home screen gives you access to three tasks; Sharing a file, (which lets you add a file to OneDrum), Invite someone to OneDrum (total 5 invites are permitted) and create a new group. Anyone you invite does not automatically become a contact unless manually added to your contacts from the green Add a contact button on the top bar. Contacts that already use OneDrum can be added from the Add a contact button.
To add a document for sharing, click the Share a file button on the Quick Start screen, and specify the file path in the dialog box that opens. To share additional files when you’re already working on a file, click the file share icon in the top bar to open the same dialog box as before. Two tabs on the left allow you to view contacts and chats with your contacts. OneDrum keeps a chat history and history of all files shared with a contact. To begin collaboration, add a contact or invite someone to OneDrum. When you invite someone to OneDrum, it automatically creates an account for them; they receive an email and an auto generated password which must be reset.
When a MS Office document is shared with a contact, OneDrum creates a copy of the document on your computer and all changes that you or a contact make are saved to that file. The original document is ignored, the changes to the documents are synchronized automatically. OneDrum lets you see what part of the document your contact is working in.
As you work, you can chat with your contacts, when a contact shares a new document, a notification appears in the chat area. You can open the document by clicking on the link in the chat or going to the files tab and clicking the document there. Whenever a document is shared or opened on either end, a notification visible to all appears in the chat tab.
OneDrum is simple yet extremely useful because you never have to worry about the latest version of MS Office being supported. It’s compatible with Windows 7 and runs Office 2010 applications. The current version only allows collaboration in Excel and Power Point. Support for MS Word is expected later this year. Multiple people can collaborate on a file at any given time but group chat is not supported.