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Collaborative software

Collaborative software, also known as groupware, is software that integrates work on a single project by several concurrent users at separated workstations. It was pioneered by Lotus Software with the popular Lotus Notes application. Collaborative software becomes more valuable when more people use it and thus Metcalfe's law applies. For example, calendaring becomes more useful when more people keep their calendars up-to-date.

An extension of groupware is collaborative media, software that allows several concurrent users to create and manage information in a website. Collaborative media models include Wiki and Slashdot models. Some sites with publicly accessible content based on collaborative software are: WikiWiki, Wikipedia and Everything2.

By method used we can divide them in:

By area served we can divide them in:

Table of contents
1 Three levels of collaboration
2 Implementation
3 Examples of collaborative software
4 For further reading

Three levels of collaboration

Groupware is sometimes divided into three categories depending on the level of collaboration. They are communication tools, conferencing tools, and collaborative management tools.

Collaborative software can be either web based (such as Wiki usermod or scoop) or desktop systems (such as CVS or RCS).


The biggest hurdle in implementing groupware is convincing people to use it. Training is required to make people comfortable using it. Employees should be given incentives to contribute : the rewards could be either financial or psychological.

In many cases collaboration is at odds with the company’s corporate culture so implementation will be disruptive. Shifting a corporate culture from being competitive to being cooperative is no small undertaking. It will require changes at all levels of the organization, including the CEO.

Examples of collaborative software

Open source software

Proprietary software

For further reading

See also

Finding related topics

External links