Chris Alexander

On Engineering

Exclusive preview: Huddle for Office

7th December, 2009

Huddle, the online collaboration and workspaces company, has been busy recently.

Not only have they announced their shiny new iPhone app and web conferencing, but they also announced a downloadable plugin for Microsoft Office, bringing your cloud collaboration to the desktop.

I got exclusive access to the Beta of the Office plugin and had a go - check out what I thought of it below.

Bringing the Cloud to you

One of the best things by far about Huddle is that it is all hosted online. All you need is an internet connection and a web browser (or even just a mobile phone), and you can immediately catch up with what your team is up to.

One of Huddle’s weaknesses has always been that you could never expect to get all the features of Office (where you would usually edit your documents) online - Zoho did a great job at allowing simple editing, but there is no substitute for the power of the full Office applications.

This is where the Huddle for Office plugins come in. They allow you to edit your files that are stored in Huddle on your desktop version of Office - so now you have the full editing power of Office, and the collaboration, accessibility and other cool features of Huddle.

Easy Installation

Installing the plugins takes just a few seconds. Here I’m using the Word plugin in Office 2010 (which I recently installed) but the plugins will also work with Office 2007 (but not any earlier versions).

You can access the Huddle options from the File menu, in the Addins section.

When you first start up Huddle for Office you will have to log in with your Huddle account details.

Once that’s done, you can start opening and editing your documents on your desktop.

Seamless Editing

Opening a file from a workspace in Huddle is incredibly easy. Select Open From Huddle in the menu, and you are presented with a list of your workspaces to choose from.

Then you get a folder view, where you can open all your folders and see the files that are available for opening.

When you find a file you want to edit, just select it and click Open. The plugin will download it from the web, and open it for you.

You can now edit your document just like you would with any other file. When you’re ready to save your file back to Huddle, just select that menu option, and it is uploaded automatically.

Simple, but revolutionary

“Ok, cool”, you may say. “It’s just an Office plugin”.

Sure, it is “just” an Office plugin, but this represents something new and revolutionary: a large player in online collaboration has realised that they can offer the power and familiarity of Office and have integrated this very closely with the rest of their platform.

Soon all of Huddle’s users will be able to seamlessly pull files from the cloud, edit them as they want, and then save them back again just as if they were on their computer.

Many more companies will realise in the future that they can use “the cloud” to enhance their user’s experiences on the desktop. This is just the first step in this process, and we can look forward to many more exciting enhancements like this to come.

For other Huddle applications and extras, check out the Apps and Extras page; featuring Clustr, the best way to access Huddle on the go, from your iPhone or any mobile.

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