Everyone Should “Share” with Adobe…

With two small kids at home, there’s a lot of talk/demanding of “sharing” stuff, and in many cases, meltdowns occur as the concept is still a bit foreign to a four and two year old. Fortunately, when it comes to Adobe, they have the concept down and are proving it through a new Beta launch of a document sharing service code-named “Share.”

Before I review this, let me come clean: Before the days of ConnectSolutions (ok, not that long ago), I had the opportunity to work with an incredible team at Adobe on a variety of hosted services geared towards “knowledge workers.” This team was responsible for Acrobat Connect, but also a series of stealth projects that will truly change the landscape for small and medium size businesses and their knowledge workers. Well, after what I’m sure was many long days over the past several weeks, I had the priviledge of kicking the virtual tires…

Share is a hosted solution that allows individuals to upload, organize, and of course, share documents with others. Sign-up is very simple (and free!), and provides users with instant access to a significant amount of storage. This storage is accessible from anywhere, which is important for anyone who travels, or of course, anyone who tends to work from home, café, etc…

As we’ve come to expect from Adobe, the service is front-ended with a beautiful, engaging user experience. Uploading documents is very simple, with the ability to upload multiple documents at once. With a single-page UI, you can select your documents to upload, identify permissions associated with viewing/reviewing the documents, and then upload. I’d like to see a desktop application to accomplish this through drag-and-drop though…

Once you’ve uploaded a document, the magic begins. You’re provided with a very slick interface to your document repository, which includes thumbnails of the actual documents and basic information about them. Even better, a simple double-click over a document delivers an embedded preview right in your browser. No waiting for an external application to load (this includes no Acrobat Reader for PDF files), just instant satisfaction. Right now, it appears this capability is limited to PDF and image files, but other document types are apparently coming. When it comes to sharing, you have a variety of options including email, URL, and embedding documents in external web sites, blogs, etc… This is extremely useful in providing dynamic access to relevant content, in an engaging way.

While I’m very excited about this initial Beta, I will put my bias down briefly for one critique: A large part of my document sharing workflow includes allowing others (team members, partners, customers, lawyers, etc…) to review these documents, and make edits or changes directly in them. My preference is to retain control over who sees a document, but then allow them to engage and modify a document as they see fit. Ideally, this happens directly in the document, and doesn’t require me going back into the original and duplicating the changes. Given that need, I believe Share has a great opportunity to allow direct commenting and review, and even editing, of the documents that traverse through its service.

In summary, I’m very excited about the potential here with “Share” and the work the Adobe team is putting into this solution area. Congrats to the team for pulling this off so quickly and allowing us to benefit from the work involved!

(WWASD?)!!!