Those of you who know what the terms ‘collaboration’ and ‘software’ mean (which is everyone) will already have guessed what collaborative software is. But we will quote Wikipedia anyway; “Collaborative software or groupware is application software designed to help people working on a common task to attain their goals.” Such software has been around for some time now, with the first instances going as far back as the 1970’s. But due to the recent turn of events (read: pandemic) they have seen a sudden rise in popularity.
Some of the software that may come to mind when thinking of collaboration might be messaging and conferencing apps. Indeed, they have played an astronomical role in dampening the effect of the lockdown on our team-centric activities. But there are other software such as Google docs, slides etc., which allows real-time collaboration on projects; It is true that we’ve used all these software even before the pandemic hit us, but not on this great a scale. And I would like to share two of my experiences with the same.
Figma is a web-based design software used primarily for UI/UX design. Recently, I got the opportunity to work as part of a team for a design project. And we were using Figma because it has a feature called multiplayer editing which allows multiple persons to work on a project simultaneously. As someone who had not worked with this feature before, at first I was nothing if not skeptical. But as I got to know the team and started working on the project, it became a very refreshing experience.
Firstly, there is the great influx of ideas, which is a given. Also, it is nigh impossible to make even the smallest of mistakes because someone on the team will notice it immediately and correct it. Another advantage of working in a team is that you inevitably become more organised. Added to this is the fact that you do not have to think of everything at once. I was able to focus more on the parts I am good at and it was the same for others in the team too. And lastly, working in this way saved a great deal of time for everyone, since we were working in tandem. The experience opened my eyes to a whole world of possibilities and I really look forward to more such team projects.
Discord is communication and conference software that offers real time voice chat, video chat and more. Before the lockdown, I had primarily used Discord for gaming. But recently I, along with some of my friends, took part in HAC’KP 2020, organised by the Kerala Police Cyberdome. It was the first virtual hackathon I had ever attended. And contrary to my expectations, it blew me away. The hackathon was primarily hosted in Discord. In the past, hackathon (or any other team event) preparation always meant the team getting together after college hours and sorting stuff out. The events themselves signified the travel, the experience and the awesome people that one would meet. Even though there was no travel involved, the hackathon was a one of a kind experience and I was surprised to find myself getting into the same atmosphere as a live event. As someone who is shy to walk up to someone and strike up a conversation, I found it way easier to introduce myself in the chat and strike up conversations that way. There were very informative presentations in the Discord channels and even the commits we made in our GitHub repository for the competition showed up on our team channel. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and my largest takeaways are the knowledge gained and the community that I got to know.
I started off this lockdown with a resolve to learn new things and brush up on my knowledge. But after some time I felt lonely, overwhelmed and found myself at a stalemate. Gladly, I got the aforementioned blissful opportunities to work with some awesome humans, which would not have been possible without the collaborative software that exist today.
I greatly feel that only collaboration can get us through these trying times where the definition of normal is always changing, be it for the better or the worst. The only thing we can do is adapt, and collaborative software will help us go a long way in doing so.
“ No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent ”
— John Donne