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Why I don't like Groove

Groove has been on my PC at work for 2 months now. I'm not as excited now, as I was when I started.

Ray Ozzie’s Groove is an excellent peer-to-peer collaboration software. Recently I shelled out $600 to buy workgroup edition and have been trying collaboration within my team at work. Though Groove is expressly designed to foster remote collaboration, I wanted to see if it can be used to foster collaboration with information capture - talking in hallways does promote collaboration, but doesn’t capture information in a reusable way. I also wanted to see if this works well, perhaps telecommuting can be promoted later.

Apparently, Mark Pilgrim and Joel Spolsky are not big fans of Groove. I thought about it, and I too find some annoyances with it.

For me, these are the main concerns.

No printing
Since my main requirement at the moment is to encourage information capture while collaboration, primary purpose of Groove is to share project spaces. The collaborators are all in the same office, so we usually meet in person. Atleast the Project Management and Meeting tools don’t have printing functionality in Groove (May be it is that I couldn’t find it yet). This is a big problem for us, since taking a print-out is far more easier than getting a laptop with projector hooked up in meeting rooms.
Huge download, every time
Every time one has to install Groove, it is a 27MB download. There are tricks available to save the downloaded install file, but getting managers to do all this kills the buy-in for the product. I got the WorkGroup in CD-ROM, but last week, I was alerted for upgrade to 2.1. Another 27MB download. This is a really bad case of (my guess) some hare-brained marketing idea to track how many people download software.
Resource hungry
We are still on Windows 98. Even with 128MB and 800MHz PIII processor, Groove, Mozilla and Outlook 2000 are enough to bring systems to a crawl.
Platform for development
Groove Development Kit looks pretty neat. I don’t know much about it - I need to spend some time with it to see how much effort will be needed to make simple applications - like expense approval system, timesheets etc. I’ll probably be more interested in building Groove interfaces for applications using XML-RPC or SOAP, mainly becauseI don’t want to make applications that need users to download, install and figure out 27MB file each time.
Intranet versions, security
I think it is pretty secure. But, for corporate usage, I think I need to feel a bit better about corporate data not getting to the outside world. Again, my limited knowledge about Groove here is a problem.
Saving spaces into corporate servers
Groove now has integration with Microsoft Share Point portal. I need to check that out to see how easy it is to integrate Groove with other portal tools like HyperWave and Zope CMF.
Works only with Windows
At the moment, people who use anything other than Windows is a minority. So, I can understand Groove’s business decision. But, more and more corporations are looking for alternatives (OS X, Linux etc.) mainly due to recent licensing changes from Microsoft. Personally, I think the managers will decide to keep whining about Microsoft and don’t do anything about it. So, getting Groove folks to port their application into other platforms might be an impossible dream.

The more I look at Groove, the more I feel that it is engineered for corporate use (look at the available tools), but marketed heavily for personal use (look at the sample cases - collaborate with family, friends etc). May be they need to align marketing and engineering a bit better.

I like Groove in the following aspects:

  1. Excellent user interface
  2. Peer-to-peer that couldn’t be simpler
  3. May be slightly ahead of its times
  4. Price can’t be beat for the functionality it provides

I’m toying with the idea of digging more into Groove; or to extend Jabber coupled with Gnutella for usual collaboration needs.

  1. Another annoyance - for the love of God, I can't remove Groove toolbar from my Outlook 2000. Even if I remove it, it comes back when I restart Outlook. I hate this kind of hijacking!

    Posted by: Babu on June 17, 2003 08:23 AM