InfoWorld Test Center Director Steve Gillmor and I have always thought that Groove is the tool we ought to be using to coordinate our team's ongoing mind-meld, aka the InfoWorld editorial process. It hasn't worked out that way, though. I used to blame that on Steve, who has little use for communication that doesn't show up as text (in the body, *not* an attachment!) of e-mail messages delivered to his BlackBerry.
As for me, I was perfectly willing to haul my ThinkPad everywhere ... until Apple's OS X-powered TiBook lured me from the straight-and-narrow, that is. Can a BlackBerry junkie and a TiBook renegade get any collaborative mileage out of Groove? Assuming that Windows PCs continue to figure prominently in our technology mix -- as they most assuredly do -- the answer appears to be "yes," thanks to Groove Web Services (GWS) .
Groove itself is, of course, a bundle of really useful services: secure shared spaces, ad-hoc group formation within or across corporate borders, instant messaging and presence, reliable data synchronization, and graceful support for offline or firewalled endpoints. For the longest time, we've envisioned using Groove to collect key sources of information, create and discuss work-in-progress, and transmit results through various channels. Unfortunately the Groove developer's kit focuses heavily on creating tools that plug in to the Groove transceiver. That is a craft with few masters, and after a long frustrating day trying to get to "Hello, world" I realized I am not destined to be one of them.
A few months back, I participated in an online experiment with a bunch of Groove developers. The idea was to explore synergies between the private world of Groove shared spaces and the public world of Weblogs. One of the developers, Hugh Pyle, injected into our space a Groove tool he'd written that subscribes to RSS channels and displays their (linked) headlines.
This was different from my normal experience of reading RSS channels -- and it was different in exactly the way that defines Groove. Management of the list of subscribed channels and awareness of the information flowing through them was a team process. The source code for the tool wasn't available, though, and re-creating it wasn't going to be easy. Things that I could do in my sleep, using an Internet-aware scripting language like Perl or Python, were really hard to accomplish using the GDK.
Fast-forward to Thanksgiving weekend. I'd sworn to stay off the computer, but when the Groove 2.5 beta CD with the GWS bits landed on my doorstep, I couldn't resist. There were two GWS demos included. One is a .Net WinForms app written in C#. It uses the GWS SOAP APIs to traverse your identities, their shared spaces, (some of) the tools in those spaces, and the data belonging to the tools. Then it dumps everything into a navigable tree control.
The other app was, to my delight, a Perl script that uses SOAP::Lite and some GWS-encapsulating Perl glue to perform command-line traversal and also editing. You can use it, for example, to enumerate and fetch files stored in a shared repository (Files tool), or create and edit messages in a forum (Discussion tool).