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Colaab, review and collaborate in Silverlight

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Colaab is a Silverlight-based review and collaborative environment packed with features.  What is a collaborative environment?  Its one of those things you need, but don't quite have a name for.  You could say a workflow tool but its more than that.  Its a way to create and review assets with a team spread across the world.  But that's not all it does.

The guys at Colaab are experimenting with how far they can push their application, as well as how far they can push Silverlight.

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  • Bob Thomsonstormideas stormideas - expertly crafted web applications
    Hi,

    We had a great time out at MIX09, really excited to see where Silverlight is heading.

    Just a quick follow up to note that colaab is available at:

    http://www.colaab.com

    With completely free accounts and free trials of all our paid accounts. Anyone you invite get's free access too, sign up and give it a spin, all feedback welcome!

    Bob

    --
    http://colaab.com
    http://www.stormideas.com
    http://blog.stormideas.com
    twitter: movingforwards
  • Adam KinneyAdamKinney Agent of Change

    And Bob, don't think I forgot about you bringing a third kilt for MIX10.  No video unless we're all in kilts next time Smiley

  • William Staceystaceyw Before C# there was darkness...
    Really, really cool stuff guys.  I am going to test it out now and spend some time with it.  Great show app for silverlight.  The webcam and mic support is really going to come in handy.  Are those features going to be added the standard fx also?  I have needed those on current app. 

    - Like that on the public side, zoom in-out only works when mouse is over the document. Makes sense.

    - Don't see any printing support or could not find it. Using IE print is not usable.  How can I colaab without print or download/upload?

    - It would be nice to be able to add pictures to a comment. Say I have a different design to show but don't want to start a new resource and want to keep the flow centered around this document.  Say add different pictures to a brochure and post them in a comment pointing to the picture to replace.

    - Feels like I always want to right-click for a context menu, but get "Silverlight" context.

    - Maybe Help could be a silverlight overlay instead of invoking the IE popup menu.  Which kinds foobars the first experience because it forces a refresh and logon.  As least for me it did until I allowed popup.
    - How to edit document and save it back? Is this a feature not in free trial version?

    - How to download a document?  Is it view only?

    - Public users sent a URL should be able to comment without needing to sign in. For example, wanting to
     send my accountant something quick to review but not require them to create an account just yet.  Let
    them decide on their own time if they want to take time. For some folks, creating and remembering logins is a chore.  Maybe we could control the URL expire time so it does not live forever.  I trust they are not going to send the URL around the net.  If I require more security, I would then just make it private. But allow a little more function for Public.

    - How about txt and xml document support.

    - Pull multiple connectors from the same comment to leverage same comment for multiple spaces.  Say you have an "Add plug here" comment.  You may want to add 10 plugs to a floor plan and use the same comment with multiple lines from it. Example:
    http://app.colaab.com/R/70ddf2f6-b67d-474b-b19a-9bd9004737a0

    - Should be able to navigate back to Public folder from a public URL resource.  If the folder is public anyway, user should be able to nav back up.
  • Dhiraj BajracharyathunderNep Thunder
    I think its cool stuff ... the video part will be important asset for deelopers ...
  • Bob Thomsonstormideas stormideas - expertly crafted web applications

    staceyw,

    Thanks for this detailed feedback and your positive comments, really valuable. Here's some responses to your questions:

    - Don't see any printing support or could not find it. Using IE print is not usable.  How can I colaab without print or download/upload?

    Currently, you have to download the resource to print it off. But this is something we’ll be looking at implementing in the future. You can download resources by clicking on the Sharing icon and clicking the download button. We're aware that this is a bit hidden away and are going to make it much more obvious in the future.

    With Silverlight 3 we can make this even slicker by offering the user a "Save as" dialog, at the moment we simply have to use a Hyperlink button to the location of the resource and let the browser take over.

    We were very dissapointed not to see printing support in Silverlight 3, we were hopeful to see some progress on this front. We're working on an interim solution using more standard reporting techniques and hope to release something on this front in the next few weeks.

    - It would be nice to be able to add pictures to a comment. Say I have a different design to show but don't want to start a new resource and want to keep the flow centered around this document.  Say add different pictures to a brochure and post them in a comment pointing to the picture to replace.

    This is a great idea. We've got some items in our new feature list around adding voice recordings to comments and links to both other resources within colaab and external urls, I'll update this to include adding additional images too.

    - Feels like I always want to right-click for a context menu, but get "Silverlight" context.

    I’m afraid as the whole app is built in Silverlight, the default behaviour is to bring up the Silverlight context menu on right-click. We could do some hacky stuff to override this but then you get issues with those dang one button mouse Apple things.

    - Maybe Help could be a silverlight overlay instead of invoking the IE popup menu.  Which kinds foobars the first experience because it forces a refresh and logon.  As least for me it did until I allowed popup.

    The help section is a work in progress and we are looking at ways of better integrating it into the app, we didn't want to bloat the size of the download further but agree that building the help into a more integrated experience fits much better into the overall user experience we are trying to achieve.

    - How to edit document and save it back? Is this a feature not in free trial version?

    If you download a document, edit it, and wish to show the new version in colaab, then currently you’ll need to upload it as a new Resource. We are currently working on a versioning system which will hang various copies of a document off of one resource which should be ready in the next few weeks.

    - How to download a document?  Is it view only?

    You can download a document by clicking the share button in the resource (globe icon) and clicking download. We’re (painfully) aware that this feature is too tucked away and will be remedying this in our next release, sometime next week.

    - Public users sent a URL should be able to comment without needing to sign in. For example, wanting to send my accountant something quick to review but not require them to create an account just yet.  Let them decide on their own time if they want to take time. For some folks, creating and remembering logins is a chore.  Maybe we could control the URL expire time so it does not live forever.  I trust they are not going to send the URL around the net.  If I require more security, I would then just make it private. But allow a little more function for Public.

    This is definitely something that we debated a lot when designing colaab. Obviously, anonomous commenting has its pros and cons. We looked at the possibility of having an option to allow public commenting when you shared a resource, but one of colaab’s strengths is its simplicity, and we don’t want to make things too convoluted. But your URL expiry time suggestion is a good one and may force us to reopen the debate!

    - How about txt and xml document support.

    Currently, we use XPS as our general format for other document types, so if you print to XPS you can then import TXT and XML files. However, we’re always trying to increase the number of formats that colaab supports without the user having to do anything to them so we’ll add these ones to the list of pending items!

    - Pull multiple connectors from the same comment to leverage same comment for multiple spaces.  Say you have an "Add plug here" comment.  You may want to add 10 plugs to a floor plan and use the same comment with multiple lines from it. Example:
    http://app.colaab.com/R/70ddf2f6-b67d-474b-b19a-9bd9004737a0

    Excellent suggestion. This is already in the works and should make it into a release in the near future. Brilliant example of where this is needed, thanks!

    - Should be able to navigate back to Public folder from a public URL resource.  If the folder is public anyway, user should be able to nav back up.

    I see where you’re coming from, we felt that there might be some privacy issues. Having a public workspace doesn’t necessarily mean that you want everyone you send a link to a public resource to see everything in it. If you did want this, then you can just share the public url of the workspace rather than the resource and you’ll then get the behaviour your after (navigating in and out of resources publically).

    Thanks again for all your feedback - greatly appreciated.

    Bob

  • William Staceystaceyw Before C# there was darkness...
    Any cool thing that is almost there is RAD Silverlight web site hosting.

    Say I could add pictures to a workspace cell and place cells around the screen and fix them.  Say I could also rebrand the page and add my own title (with Powered by Coolab on the bottom of the page).  Then I have a pretty cool web site with very little work.  I can click on the "pictues" to dive into a workspace and have crumb bar nav already.  Would also need ability to turn off feekback on right for some pages.  You have the bones in place already for a pretty cool and simple silverlight web site designer for general content.  And also have the ability to use the colaab stuff on site documents.  I could use something like that currently.
  • HI there.

    I really like the colaab site. I am new to Silverlight and have started to look into some examples of annotation. In the ECG example of the silverlight Healthcare site they used layering, where you would figure out which sub-image you are on and then from there draw eg. a rectangle on top of the image. Then as the sub-image move, the rectangle will be moved and resized accordingly. This causes a bit of a eye-sore though.

    If I may ask, what do you use to do the annotation on the deepzoom image? Please assist.

    Thanks.

  • nikenike

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