Product Reviews

Groove 2.1

Groove has been around for a few years now, but the most common reaction I get when I mention it is still "huh?" With the recent release of version 2.1 I thought it was worth mentioning here. Though it's still an immature application in some ways, I see a lot of promise for Groove in helping distributed development teams manage projects.

Groove provides a "workspace" in which individual Groove applications are hosted. These applications are things like discussion groups, instant messaging with history, document review, file storage, and so on. A single workspace can have multiple Groove users involved, each of whom can contribute and use the applications. Each user sees the same content. The key is that none of this content is on a server somewhere -- it's all on each user's computer. Groove uses P2P technology to transparently replicate content between multiple computers. This technology just plain works; it offers security, offline intelligence, the smarts to deal with firewalls, and so on. The end result is that it's utterly transparent to the user.

There are a couple of things here that developers might be interested in. First, of course, you can set up ad-hoc Groove workspaces to collect ideas and documents and manage workflow for any product you happen to be working on. Second, you can write applications that work in the Groove workspace and use all of the Groove infrastructure goo. Right now the company has a preview version of its Visual Studio .NET development bits out, which let you write Groove applications in VS .NET. That will ship later this fall, to be followed by some additional bits that integrate Groove with Microsoft SharePoint. The latter offers a way to let SharePoint users replicate information between multiple SharePoint Team Services installations.

There are still a few drawbacks here. Groove itself is a 27MB download, and it seems to suck down resources at times when I'm using it heavily. But I'm also finding it a great way to collaborate with far-flung authors and developers. I'm looking forward to getting my feet wet with the VS .NET bits as well. You can download a copy for free preview use from the Groove website. Registration starts at $49; there are a variety of more expensive options if you'd like to deploy your own Groove infrastructure on your own enterprise network.

[This review originally appeared in Developer Central 1.12.—Editor]

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.

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