If you're looking for a smart project-management tool, make room for eRoom. The popular digital workplace software, now also available in a Web-based version called eRoom.net, allows co-workers to create, store and share files and folders as well as collaborate in real time.
ERoom has been around for several years in a version that companies had to host on their own servers. In 2000, the Web-based version was launched, allowing companies to spend their time using the software itself rather than maintaining it. Both forms of the software have been upgraded to version 5.0.
Version 5.0 offers a simplified interface, making it easy to get started. Simply point your browser to www.eroom.net, and the site walks you through the process. You can choose one of several ePractice Templates for your digital workspace, such as "consulting project" or "new product launch," or you can create a blank eRoom and fill it with the content your project needs.
Each eRoom is given a unique URL, and you can access all the eRooms you've created or are a member of from your My eRoom.net page, which is automatically created when you register. As the creator of the eRoom, you can invite other members to join and control their access privileges. You can also choose to password-protect your eRoom.
ERoom allows for easy navigation, splitting the screen into two sides: The left side maps your eRoom just like a Windows directory, while the right side lays the content out for you to view. You can easily add folders, documents, polls and discussions.
New features include a project cal-endar, which synchronizes with Outlook, and the ability to add a database. Earlier versions only allowed users to build a list, but that has evolved into the database feature, which allows more data to be stored and tracked. You can also chat with other members of the eRoom who happen to be logged on at the same time. The intercom feature now launches in a separate window, allowing the chat to go on while you continue to work in the eRoom.
Two pricing plans are available for eRoom. Rates start at $149 per month but increase depending on the number of users, the number of eRooms and the amount of disk space needed.
Liane Gouthro, a former technology reporter atPCWorld.com, freelances from her home in Brookline, Massachusetts.