Saturday, November 14, 2009

ThinkFree Online - yup... another online office suite

ThinkFree Online is yet another online office application suite, it's been around for a few years and is based out of South Korea (a Haansoft Corporation product). It's an impressive platform and has a wide array of features which make it attractive to enterprise models as well as educational communities.

It's key features are connected to desktop integration and collaboration. ThinkFree is Microsoft Office compatible, giving users the ability to save their work as Office 97-2003 documents or Office 2007 documents; as well as save a document as a pdf, rtf, xml, web page, or text file. It's Writer tool bar is very similar to the Office 97-2003 GUI, making it recognizable, relatively-friendly and as easy jump from Office Word to this online writer.


ThinkFree also allows users to create spreadsheets, presentations, and html "note" pages. Take a look at the spreadsheet application (image below), extremely Excel-like:

ThinkFree Spreadsheet

It can convert documents to PDF, text or image with the option to save to local computer or the ThinkFree Cloud. ThinkFree also has an application, Power Tool, which let's you sync documents between ThinkFree Online and your desktop - it's the only local install that's part of this cloud package. Power Tool let's you edit and share documents with people without accessing ThinkFree Online, and if there's no Internet connection it allows you to make offline changes to your documents which will be automatically synchronized once you reconnect.

When you work on a ThinkFree document you have the option of publishing it: this simply means giving a document its own unique url so anyone with Internet connection can access it. Basically, a public, shared community of documents, and an avenue to distribute a document on the Internet without the need to have a site / blog etc. a number of online Office apps now offer this. This component of ThinkFree is called Docs, and has the standard groups feature, etc., in my opinion the weakest part of this package.

However, the strongest feature in ThinkFree is the Workspace; it's a nice and simple approach to some very ambitious work processes, with some SharePointish type features to really entice small-business or communities in need of collaborative environments but unable to even consider the price tag of a SharePoint. Workspace has a dashboard which will list all the items you're working on, and when you select a specific item which you own, or have that level of access to, it gives you the ability to create, view, and manage:
  • Tasks;
  • Issues;
  • Files;
  • Projects; and
  • Members
ThinkFree Workspace

It's a nice platform, but I still wouldn't choose it over Google Apps, or for that matter, Microsoft Live or Zoho. Plus, ThinkFree isn't free, well only for 30 days, then you would be expected to pay a $49 USD licensing fee per user for it's Office application...I can't see how they're going to survive.