Touchpoint enters the fray

Unlike the other Web collaboration products tested in this comparison, Open Text's soon-to-be-released Touchpoint works on top of Microsoft's .NET framework. Although this bodes well for organizations and installations that use Microsoft applications and promotes closer ties to products such as Microsoft's SharePoint Portal, administrators can only install the Touchpoint client on a system running the .NET framework.

Also, unlike products from Macromedia and WiredRed, Touchpoint doesn't support voice over IP or videoconferencing. However, Touchpoint offers strong team work spaces, instant messaging and presence awareness.

The installation process was fairly straightforward but not as easy as its competition's because we had to first install Microsoft .NET Framework 1.1 and Service Pack 1 before we could install the Touchpoint client.

Unlike WiredRed's small-footprint server, the Touchpoint server requires Microsoft Windows Server 2000 or greater, Microsoft Internet Information Server, Apache Tomcat, Sun Microsystems' JDK 1.4.2, Microsoft .NET and SQL Server 2000. The server communicates with the client using HTTP/HTTPS via requests from the client, although administrators can employ Secure Sockets Layer for added security.

Touchpoint is based on the instant-messaging model, which includes People, Places and Things. Collaboration can occur informally by creating an IM conversation in Touchpoint Launchpad. Or more formal collaboration can be set up under the Meeting tab of Launchpad.

Once users start an informal conversation in Launchpad, the dialogue can grow to allow for document collaboration and move directly into the Places feature of the Touchpoint client. Launchpad can also create collaboration groups, persistent work spaces and meetings with formal scheduling that can tie to programs such as Microsoft Outlook.

Once participants start an IM session through Launchpad, they can share files from their desktops throughout the session. When participants want to include other people in a discussion and share files or documents with them, the Places work space comes into play.

Similar to Macromedia Breeze's persistent work space, Touchpoint's Places uses Microsoft SQL to maintain a collaboration area. Touchpoint records and stores all communications that occur among participants in Places or via IM. Touchpoint users can later search recorded information or documents used during a meeting.

Participants can share and collaborate on Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PDFs and other documents within Places. And as with Breeze and WiredRed, Touchpoint users can view one another's desktops. However, they cannot limit the amount of their desktop that other participants can see.

A work space's creator, who by default is the meeting administrator, sets participants' roles. Meeting administrators can classify participants as coordinators, members or viewers.

The Livelink enterprise content management platform is Touchpoint's server-management side. It has standard features for an enterprise application, including the ability to export or import a database for backup and recovery, access management for client and administrative log-ins, and a list of ongoing sessions. Organization, domain and group management also occurs inside the content management platform.

Users can create custom plug-ins in Touchpoint. The application also has the capability to connect to back-end systems so participants can retrieve data from other sources, such as customer relationship management systems. Open Text has also integrated Touchpoint with its other enterprise content management, knowledge management and document repository products, which is helpful if you have other Open Text applications.

For more information, call Open Text at (800) 499-6544 or visit www.opentext.com.

— Victor R. Garza

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