Ever since my team has started move its work to the web, I’ve been looking for more ways to use the web to make our team more productive. One of the things I’ve wanted to do is use the web as a better collaboration tool. In my line of work, better collaboration equals more productive.
There are a variety of web apps out there that let you collaborate around different projects, but the one I am reviewing today has lots of potential to become a good one. It is called CanvasDropr, and in its basic sense, it is a place on the web where you can collaborate on many different things. Let me show you around the app itself.
Starting Your Canvas
When you first sign up for CanvasDropr, you will find a very simple interface that is easy to navigate. You can create projects, and within those projects you can have many different canvases. Each canvas has its own tab up on top, kind of like different tabs that you have open in your web browser.
When you create a new canvas, there are many different ways that you can add files to it. You can drag and drop a file into the web app and you can also connect to a variety of websites to gather files from there. You can connect with Google, Instagram, Flickr, Youtube, or even copy and paste the url and CanvasDropr will find images from that site for you to use. Once you find what you want to use, just click on it and it will be added to your canvas. Right now, CanvasDropr accepts all Microsoft Office documents, as well as most image files.
When adding files or images to your canvas, think of it as a blank sheet of paper where you are putting a variety of things on it. You want it to represent everything, so you make sure you move things around, maybe tilt them in a certain direction, some images have captions, etc. These same actions can be done with your canvas as well. Once an image or a document is put on it, it can be rotated, made bigger or smaller, a caption can be added, etc. Your canvas is what you decide to make of it, and you can even draw on it as well, although when testing this feature, it wasn’t working the way I thought it should.
Collaborating Around Your Canvases
Collaboration around canvases is really the big feature in this web application. There are a couple of ways that your canvas can be presented to others. For one, there is a presentation function where you can present to people the different files individually versus just all of them on the canvas together. Secondly, you can share it with others and depending on how you set your privacy level will dictate how your canvas can be shared. You can send a URL to people so they can collaborate with you and you can also make it password protected if you choose so.
The one downside about this process is that whoever you share your canvas with has to also have a CanvasDropr account or they have to create one. I can understand why they do this, but to create less friction, I would like to see a way that you didn’t have to necessarily sign up for an account. I will say though, the benefit of having an account with others that you are collaborating is that all of you can be working on the project together in real time and everyone will see the changes together. Other people can add their own images or files and they can also comment on the canvas as well.
Prices and Uses
Right now CanvasDropr has two price points, with the first one being free and the second one $9 per user/month. As with any model, with the free account you are limited on the amount of people that you can collaborate with, number of projects, types of files, etc. This account is mainly for those that are looking to use the app on a very small scale. For those that want to use it to the maximum potential, where you can have practically unlimited everything, then the Pro account is for you. I would like to see another price point to have something in between free and a pro account.
The more I started to use the app, the more I realized that there are a variety of ways and uses for it. The obvious one is to collaborate around images, which there are a variety of occupations that do this. But, as a teacher I can also see how this can be used between a teacher and its students. I like that you can collaborate not only with images but with documents as well, as this now lets more business people use this as a tool. The other neat use for CanvasDropr is that it can be used as a presentation tool, whether you are presenting or you just want to embed your canvas on a website.
CanvasDropr is currently in beta and you can tell that they have some things to work on. There are a few functions that don’t necessarily work properly, but that is expected when you are testing out something like this. But, the core of the app itself seems to work well and I had no problems navigating and getting around. I do like the overall function of CanvasDropr, which is to give people an easy way to collaborate on files. Did it impress me? That is hard to say; I came away thinking that I know I can do this with other apps that are out there.
All that to say, you should go and check it out and see for yourself. Like I had mentioned before, the app is free to use so there is no harm in testing it out to see if it can work for you. If you are looking for an easy to use collaboration tool, this is definitely one to at least “kick the tires” on and see if you like it.