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Jolt Awards

Jolt 2007: Collaboration


Jolt Winner

Confluence
Atlassian Software Systems

Jon Silvers, Director of Marketing

Let's deal with the Big Gorilla right up front: Who on earth would pay for a wiki?

Well, my group does. And we're in a small, cash-poor academic department at a state university. We're happy to pay for Confluence, because we've tried a bunch of others. All the free stuff either didn't fit our environment, drove me crazy trying to get it running right, was missing important features, or tanked on vital data just about the time we'd come to rely on it. I realized that, FOSS fanatic though I am, sometimes it's just cheaper to buy a good product. Since that day, we have had zero wiki problems: zip, nada. How do I love this product? Let me count the ways:

  • User administration is as simple or powerful as you care to make it. Organize them into groups, give fine-grained permissions to each, or throw everybody in a big happy pool, Confluence doesn't care, and makes it simple for the admin into the bargain.
  • Site organization, likewise. Users can set up their own "spaces," or the admin can decide the structure. And it's not an endless nightmare to reorganize, either.
  • Notification: You can subscribe to update notifications via RSS or e-mail. Better yet, you can have the wiki subscribe to your email, just CC: Confluence and you'll capture those decision trains that otherwise get derailed into a dozen individual's mail archiving systems. (Oh, and they'll be threaded.)

And plenty more, of course. APIs allow you to integrate with other systems, or turn Confluence into an "application platform." Wiki markup is simple enough to comprehend, but powerful enough to bag most users' needs. You can set up blogs, discussion pages, cross references. Color-coded difference highlighting between page versions is simple to use, rollback even more so. It's all searchable. And it all just works.

--Rick Wayne

Productivity Award

Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional
Adobe Systems

As Adobe continues to assimilate the properties it acquired from its Macromedia purchase, one collaborative product that represented a departure for the graphic arts company was its online meeting collaboration tool, Macromedia Breeze. With a refocusing of the core essence of how online collaboration could be optimized with the Flash 9 engine, Adobe has engineered a lightweight core that supplies most of the attributes that effective virtual meetings require. Screen sharing and markup, conference call numbers, and an easy meeting invitation interface are combined with low per user costs and simple, intuitive controls. Integration with Adobe's Acrobat 8 PDF creation and markup tool hint at deeper hooks into other Adobe product families, as well as showcasing the commercial power of what its Flex and Apollo web application frameworks are capable of delivering. With Cisco's acquisition of WebEx, the online collaboration market has been elevated to important, trusted corporate status and Adobe has shown with Connect that it intends to be a major provider in this space.

--Mike Riley

Productivity Award

NetBeans IDE
Sun Microsystems

This was a big year for NetBeans, who emerged from the shadow of other IDEs. NetBeans 5.5 offered a rich set of features for software development teams to collaborate on important tasks directly from within the IDE. Code reviewing is the main feature of the NetBeans developer collaboration tools, combining chat, messaging, and a sophisticated, synchronized file-sharing scheme to support distributed team members' code reviews. The system provides an easy-to-use and understand view of shared activity and collaborative activities among team members. The mechanisms used for code reviews can be used in real time to perform shared editing of a file.

While some of the ideas implemented in this version are not new, the implementation of them and the feel of the NetBeans IDE is wonderful. Developers who use other IDEs and decide to investigate the collaboration features of NetBeans will seriously consider changing to NetBeans for their next project.

--Gary Pollice

Productivity Award

TeamCity
JetBrains

One of the recent trends in software development is continuous integration. By constantly compiling the codebase and building the resulting artifacts, sites can quickly identify problems such as broken builds, incorrect codebase updates, missing or improperly modified resources, and the like. In addition, good continuous integration packages, such as Team City from JetBrains, enable developers to examine reports regarding the build and to assign responsibility for fixes of encountered problems. Team City's strength is its ease of deployment (using Ant files or custom scripting) and its elegant interface. After starting up Team City and performing the initial configuration, itÕs simple to add more projects and more build steps. Moreover, Team City does not impose unusual twists into the development cycle, nor does it require specific tools to runs. It simply works elegantly and reliably without requiring a lot of supervision. Exactly what you want: A tool that solves a problem cleanly without imposing additional overhead.

--Andrew Binstock


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