Cloud collaboration and content firm Box has taken the wraps off a new service designed to enhance real-time document creation, editing and sharing.
Dubbed Box Notes, the new product lets users see exactly who is working and commenting on a document and turns what was previously a fairly bland collaborative process into one that is fuelled by social interactivity.
It is available now as a private beta but no firm, final release date has been confirmed as yet.
Profile pictures pop up to highlight who is active in a document at any one time, and notes appear on the page so there's a running dialogue of who has said what and when.
"The business tools we have today don't really address the way we work today. Legacy tools have overshot the customer's needs to solve this problem. But what if we had new tools rather than having to retrofit old technology?" Aaron Levie, CEO and co-founder of Box, said during his opening keynote at the company's annual Boxworks event in San Francisco.
"Box Notes is an all-new service that lets you capture, share and build on ideas with anyone. You can see who you're working with so it changes the nature of collaboration."
The new document editing and sharing tool brings functionality to the forefront as and when needed, keeping it focused on users and what they are doing rather than blinding them with too much choice, according to the company.
"We're entering the third wave of workplace organisation. The first wave the mainframe was very top down. Then, in the second wave, the PC empowered individuals. The third wave is the cloud and mobile together. The cloud has been around for a while, but we've been waiting for it to come into its own. The tools we have today don't address [modern needs]," Sam Schillace, senior vice president of engineering at Box, told IT Pro.
"I worked on Google Docs and we were very much looking backwards. We were putting people first and content second. We wanted to invert that and build something more sharing-centric."
While the release sports a number of key features requested by users, Box hasn't crammed everything in. It plans to add additional functionality over time, dependent on the feedback received as part of the beta process.
"It's very deliberately minimal," Schillace added. "There's a lot of formatting functionality we could add that we chose not to. It's less about a linear view and more about social interactivity. Every time you do something, you're wrong until you get it into the market [to get feedback]. We did that with Google Docs there were things we didn't put in because we thought they weren't important. But [following feedback] we had to put them back in."
While immediate comparisons have been drawn between Box Notes and Google Docs and Microsoft Office, Box maintains that it is not trying to compete in the same space.
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Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.
Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.