The Purpose of This Blog

This blog performs the purpose of a resource tool for helping someone assess collaborative tools for use in a state-wide committee and associated meetings. Its aim is to provide a clarified overview of four online collaboration tools based on five criteria with the objective of helping one choose an appropriate product.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Blog Guide

WELCOME to our collaboration Tool Analysis!

Here you will find a critical, well detailed overview of four online collaboration tools: LucidChart; Wiggio; WriteBoard; and Twiddla. Please feel free to lightly browse each tool on our home page, which includes five sets of rated criteria, podcasts, and recommendations for group work. For more detailed information on each tool, please navigate to the specific tool's dedicated page on the right. Here you will find a more detailed analysis of each online tool, as well as other reviews, video tutorials, and valid criteria.

LucidChart is a visual collaboration platform that aims to help users make diagraming fast and easy. The Provo, Utah based start-up launched its Beta version in 2008 and was added to the Google Apps Marketplace in spring of 2010. This web-based diagraming software was created in response to the challenging user-experiences presented by similar applications such as Visio.

Wiggio is an online toolkit and platform for all types of group work and related functions. The project was started by two Cornell University graduates who sought to streamline the process of group work and its responsibilities. Released to the public in September of 2008, Wiggio’s mission is to continuously develop an application that eliminates the frustration of working in groups by providing the powerful, straightforward functionality that you need to work effectively. Among its direct competitors include GroupLoop ( and GroupTable (

Writeboard is a collaboration tool created to allow users a way to edit and compare text and share ideas. Those responsible for its creation call themselves 37 Signals, and also created similar tools such as Basecamp, Campfire, and Backpack. This company began in 1998 and came out with the tools Backpack and Writeboard in 2005 due to ever increasing use of the web to communicate with others, such as YouTube. Writeboard is compatible with Internet Explorer 7, Safari, Google Chrome, or Firefox, thus making it widely accessible but not completely foolproof.

Twiddla is a real-time based collaboration tool that allows many people the opportunity to gather at one time and communicate via text or video in order to make suggestions for changes on websites, documents, or images. The programmers who created this tool actually designed it for themselves with the idea of having a way to share ideas in real-time in a whiteboard like setting. This tool was the first of its kind, as the programmers were forced to create this tool for their job needs.

Assessing the Four Online Collaboration Tools

This post aims to assess the four online collaboration tools based on a set of five criteria.

Five criteria:
  1. user-friendliness
  2. productivity-enhancing abilities
  3. start-up barriers
  4. storage and archive abilities
  5. Stability

The analysis of the above described tools and parameters will be organized by criteria, and are concisely listed in bullet form for simple retrieval of information. A more in-depth analysis of the criteria can be found in each tool's overview page on the right.

I. User-Friendliness

  • Very intuitive
  • Easy sign-in / registration
  • Well designed interface
  • Very informative / instructional for first time user
  • Familiar interface similar to other base graphics software
  • Very simplistic, yet sophisticated
  • Simple start-up procedures
  • Simple to learn
  • Non-cluttered interface
  • Fun tool allowing user creativeness
  • Quick and easy signup
  • Multiple modes of communication for groups
II. Productivity-Enhancing Abilities

  • Maximizes communication for increased productivity
  • Offers multiple modes of communication
  • Has in-house office suite powered by Zoho
  • Diagramming is faster and easier than Google Doc's draw tool
  • Orgo. and flow charts aid in pre-planning for increased productivity
  • Beautiful graphics best represent the conceptual and brainstorming process
  • Compare function for version similarities
  • Comment function for easy to track conversations
  • Multiple subject choices to collaborate over
  • Real-time system
  • Numerous methods to communicate with group members
III. Start-Up Barriers

  • 100% free for life
  • Fully compatible with all web-browsers
  • Simple registration
  • No compatibility issues
  • Option to "test-drive" before registration
  • Requires paid subscription for substantial group projects
  • No fees associated with this tool
  • No limit on number of uses
  • Simple start-up procedures
  • Free guest service
  • Technical support requires a subscription
IV. Storage and Archive Abilities

  • Group newsfeed archives all history
  • 100% cloud technology
  • Free account limited to 25 MB and 60 shape limit use to library
  • Team subscription starts at 5 GB
  • Supports VDX, PNG, JPEG, and PDF files
  • All edits to text are tracked and available for comparison
  • No system limitation on number of edits
  • Snapshots of collaboration available
  • Acts as a whiteboard, so snapshot doesn't save actual documentation
  • Able to track history
V. Stability

  • Files hosted by Amazon's Cloud servers
  • 100% cloud technology
  • Only guaranteed to be supported by a few specific browser types
  • Cloud technology enables access to data from anywhere with internet connection


This post will offer recommendations regarding the suitability for each tool in regards to group work at state level committees and associated meetings.


Whereas an application such as google docs helps the group meet specific objectives like creating a report or spread sheet, Wiggio is geared toward addressing the overarching aim of group work, which is successful collaboration through communication. It is the task of Wiggio to give group members all of the necessary tools for collaboration. And most importantly, all of these tools, such as setting up events and meetings, are housed in one place. This is because the group's main page is laid out as a feed, so all group history and events are listed chronologically by date in one place. There are certain specific functions of Wiggio that make it vital for group work. First, people prefer many different means of communication, and Wiggio works to accommodate preferences for text messaging, email, and even voice messages. Second, Wiggio has tools that bring a sense of accountability to group work. The group feed page is a perfect platform to ensure that each member is doing their share, as indicated by their participation in "To-Do" lists, polls, and the comment boards. Additionally, each group profile is assigned their unique email address, website, and link to invite others to join. Such extras are very valuable when creating complimentary materials, such as newsletters, list-serves, and promotional materials.

For the reasons described above, this blog does recommend Wiggio as an appropriate tool for all types of group work. The application accommodates all skills levels and requires no additional training or fees. This tool would be highly advantageous in organizing group work at the state level.


LucidChart does have many built-in features to accommodate group work and collaboration. Users can invite other users to view, edit, and publish their documents. The primary author of diagrams can choose between assigning editor, viewer, and owner modes for prospective collaborators. An added benefit is the group chat feature, which is activated while in edit mode.There are also some limitations in regards to full collaboration. For instance, there is no feature to easily save older versions of a document to make the revision process more constructive. Built-in communication features are limited to email, and lack a notification feature for when changes to a document by a team member is made. Furthermore, the free account is only limited between two collaborators, and allows for the use of no more than 60 shapes from the library.

Overall, LucidChart is recommended for creating brainstorming and conceptual organizational models such as flow charts and hierarchy models. To be effective for large groups such as a state-wide meeting, the paid subscriptions are near compulsory.


Writeboard is a simple (some would dare to say overly-simple) collaboration tool. The author of the text can receive feedback from anyone they invite to the tool’s URL assigned to their page through either the comments or the compare function. Text editing itself is extremely limited and uses a coding system. This tool is not recommended as an all-inclusive collaboration tool. Nor is it suggested for fine tuning text projects. Instead, Writeboard is the ideal tool for collaboration in the beginning stages of text editing when the authors wish to compare and exchange ideas on text based projects.

Overall, Writeboard has many limitations, but with these limitations comes extreme ease of use. For group projects where a large difference in the degree of technological knowledge between partners exists, this collaboration tool may just be the ticket. Simple and easy to learn, there is really nothing to it!


Twiddla is a great tool for real-time collaboration over everything from graphics to documents to websites. The idea behind this tool is that the user can interact with the group members as if there was a whiteboard laid over the information. This allows the users to help each other navigate webpages, or make suggested changes to a document. The numerous tools available include the draw function, text function, and shapes function. All of these are meant to make Twiddla productive yet fun for groups in the brainstorming process.

In general, this tool is not recommended for groups in the final stages of collaboration. This tool is better served for the brainstorming function in group work. It allows an easy and interactive way for members to make suggestions, guide group travel, and chat about projects. Since it is a real-time application, this tool only saves the “whiteboard” editing that members perform, and not the actual documents. Therefore, this tool is best served as a catalyst and not a long-term project tracker.