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Working together: 3 new team collaboration tools

David Strom | July 24, 2014
Flow, Glip and Slingshot try to enhance the ability of teams to converse and collaborate using a variety of tools.

You define a task, schedule when it is due and who is helping complete it, and upload documents either from your own computer or from a connected Dropbox account. While this is handy, because Flow concentrates so much on tasks, some things just don't fit. For example, tasks can be scheduled for a specific day but not for a specific time within that day, making it difficult to schedule meetings among task participants.

The service is extremely easy to learn and use. When you complete the signup process, you are brought into a series of simple on-screen tutorials that highlight the menus and prompts needed to get started with creating lists and tasks. The screen layouts are clean and consistent across the Web and mobile clients.

One of Flow's strengths is in its numerous notification options. You can receive a daily email digest of your tasks, change the notification settings to hourly or not at all, and toggle between a dozen different activities such as being notified if you are mentioned or if a new task is assigned. One downside is that these notification settings can't be accessed in the mobile client.

Another nice touch is an optional text editor for the body of your task messages that works like GitHub's Flavored Markdown editor, which lets you add HTML links, simple numbered lists and blocks of code. If you mistakenly delete a task (the icons are small and I found it was too easy to click on the wrong one), you can restore it if you realize your mistake within a few hours.

On the Web version, some image file contents (such as PNGs) can be previewed in the dashboard; others (like TIFFs) you'll need to click on to view. On the mobile version, no file previews are available, possibly to save screen real estate. In either case, you can't edit attached documents -- you can just view them. Each item in the task list can be "liked" by each team member, similar to Facebook likes.

Teams have three different access rights: member, guest and admin. Team owners set these up when they create your account. Guests can only view the particular content that they are explicitly invited to see. Admins can change the access rights at any time. And members have full read/write rights but can't change others' access rights.

Flow has six different pricing plans, all of which are billed on an annual basis. The Team plan allows up to 10 people to share 10GB of storage and five different workspaces for $49 per month. There are additional plans that can go to $250 a month or more. The first 30 days of any account are free, with no need to supply a credit card.


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