Contextual Discussions – The most important feature of

November 27, 2008 helps people to work together - that is the key function of Since version 1.0, we gathered from our users, the most used feature of was commenting. has essentially become the 'place' where you put the stuff you want to work on with someone else. And the way to work with that some one else is (apart from co - editing the same file of course) is via commenting. The best thing about collaborating via comments is the fact that the comments always remain attached to the content (or the context) of the stuff that you were working on. Its always search-able and reference-able by any body else that is interested in or joins the team.

In a small survey that we did with a few of our customers, 80% of them believed that between 30% to 40% of their entire digital knowledge lies in the comments, 60% of them agreed that the number of comments in their system is growing faster than the number of content objects being uploaded / created. So why is using comments in a better way to collaborate than say using email, or even instant messaging? Three reasons:

  1. It's Contextual - This helps keeping the conversation focused, and helps avoid the pitfalls that modern collaboration systems like instant messaging have often faced in the enterprise scenario; of being a 'time waster' or a 'distraction causer'.

  2. It's easily available / reachable / findable by everyone related to the context - The quantification of the 'knowledge value' of the conversation seldom happens before the conversation is initiated. In simple terms, we realize the benefit of recording a conversation only when we, or in usual cases some one else requires to know the outcome of the conversation. If the conversation is held using comments in the discussion system, its always recorded, and available to all users with permission to the content

  3. With 2.1, and the upcoming desktop, we are taking discussions to the next level - 2.1 introduces big improvements in the user experience of the discussions system. Ajax based commenting interfaces along with threaded conversations makes commenting a breeze. One of the key capabilities of the desktop is going to be able to very very easily comment of stuff from your desktop, without even navigating to the web interfaces. The desktop will offer a very familiar and similar experience to instant messaging software, with the key difference of the 'roster' or the 'buddy list' being replaced by the activity stream of content from your site.

The desktop v1.0 beta will be released simultaneously along with v2.1. It's quite clear now that discussions in is a key area of focus for the design team, and you will see a lot more interesting innovations in this area, in the near future.