Groove bolsters collaboration

Company updates Workspace, ships Web services APIs

Groove Networks on Wednesday plans to roll out a Web services integration framework for its Workspace product as well as an updated version of Workspace featuring tightened integration with Microsoft Outlook and STS (SharePoint Team Services). The new software is designed to make collaboration more extensible to a variety of applications and devices.

Groove Web Services are SOAP-based APIs that sit atop a subset of Groove Workspace, allowing Groove collaboration capabilities to be exposed and consumed as services by other applications, according to Groove officials.

The integration framework extends access to Groove data and components to applications, devices, and people that otherwise couldn't get access to the services, said Matt Pope, product manger for Groove Web Services.

With Groove Web Services, collaboration features such as discussion, files, calendar, and online presence can be tied into applications that live on the same device as Groove Workspace or applications that reside on another network's device, Pope said.

In addition, the Beverly, Mass.-based company is delivering a free Groove Development Kit for Web Services, which includes WSDL files that define the SOAP interfaces exposed by Groove software, sample client code, and documentation explaining how to program the APIs.

Groove Web Services allows enterprise users to get a jumpstart on exploiting Web services to integrate collaboration into business processes, according to Dana Gardner, research director at Aberdeen Group, in Boston .

"The ability to take the Groove functionality and through Web services integrate that into a business application or portal and then extend the results of that collaboration beyond a Groove client is pretty compelling and advanced," Gardner said. "It places [Groove] ahead of some of the platform and tools providers in terms of exploiting Web services for collaboration."

Groove also is launching Version 2.5 of Workspace, which further integrates the product with Microsoft Outlook and adds a new toolset for SharePoint Team Services.

The goal of the 2.5 enhancements is to allow collaboration processes to evolve naturally from e-mail and portals to Groove Workspaces, where threaded discussions can be fostered with services such as security, data synchronization, and real-time online and mobile offline use, according to Donna Carvalho, senior product manager for Groove.

The deeper integration with Outlook simplifies the process of moving multiperson conversations from e-mail to Groove shared spaces. Specifically, users can send Outlook e-mail messages to new or existing shared spaces, integrate Outlook contacts with Groove Workspace contacts, and send Outlook calendar entries to Groove project calendars, according to company officials.

The new toolset for STS, dubbed Groove Mobile Workspace for Microsoft SharePoint, gives users offline access to STS shared files and data and the capability to work securely with others outside the firewall.

Version 2.5 also adds performance improvements, enhancements to centralized management services, and a digital ink-enabled chat tool that supports Microsoft's' Tablet PC platform.

Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.