SAN FRANCISCO: Enterprise cloud storage firm Box has taken the wrappers off its new real-time collaborative document editing service at its BoxWorks event.
Called Box Notes, the stripped-down web-based service is currently in its early beta stages, and will be available to selected Box customers from Monday. Box says Notes has been designed from the ground up to be an enterprise-grade service with security and simplicity marketed as the key selling points.
Multiple users can edit documents simultaneously, with so-called "Note Heads" floating up and down the left-hand side of a document to show where another user is working. It also includes a chat function, allowing for real-time interactions from within the document.
The user interface only includes rudimentary formatting tools, something Box says is deliberate to avoid clutter and confusion. Further contextual options are made available in certain situations. For example, users are able to add comments to specific parts of the document when they highlight the relevant text.
Sam Schillace, Box's senior vice president of engineering, said while the comparisons to Google Docs are obvious, Notes is not intended to compete with it. "We're trying to build a new mode of working where it's much more about quickly capturing information and sharing it," he told V3.
Schillace, who was part of the original team that developed Google Docs, added that while there is currently only a document-editing tool available, the firm may expand into Excel-style tabular data services at a later date.
Box plans to add more features to flesh the service out, such as offline editing, a mobile interface, better media embedding and a Version History tool, which would allow users to revert to an older iteration of a document. Notes will eventually be availble to all Box users, including those who use the free service.
Box gave no firm date for the general availability of Notes, merely stating that it would likely be some time within the next four to five months.
The company currently claims 180,000 individual businesses – ranging from SMEs to global corporations – now use its service, with several million more individuals using its free product.
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