Choosing a Web Collaboration or Conferencing Solution

I wanted to show my brother a skeleton of a website that we are developing. He lives about 30 miles away from me right now, but soon he will be living across the country from me. So this type of functionality will be crucial.

I could have emailed the skeleton. That would have been simple, I suppose. But it is not real-time collaboration. We can't make changes on the fly. Those sort of things.

We both have Windows Vista. I have Ultimate. He has Home Premium. We are on different networks -- basically our home networks via our Internet Service Provider (ISP).

So what to do? What can we use to collaborate real-time when we are basically just two people on the Internet somewhere.


Windows Meeting Space  image

Vista has this new "feature" called Windows Meeting Space. I thought that would help, but no such luck. It only supports collaboration on the same wired network, WLAN or ad-hoc, PC-to-PC network. Basically, you have to be close to each other. That really doesn't help me in this situation.

NetMeeting  image

So I looked for NetMeeting. That would work, of course, right? I have used it before. Wrong! NetMeeting exists no more in Windows Vista. Apparently Windows Meeting Space is supposed to take the place of it. You can download NetMeeting for Vista, but it only works on Enterprise, Business or Ultimate. Again, can't be used in my situation.

Remote Desktop Connection  image

I thought about Remote Desktop Connection. But then I realized Remote Desktop Connection is not really for web collaboration. It is more of a 1-way communication system with another desktop. Only one person can see the desktop. So that was out.

Windows Live Messenger  image

I have the latest Windows Live Messenger. My brother could have easily downloaded it. I know I remember in the past being able to use Windows Messenger to share my desktop. There was a button or menu item to do this. It is not there anymore on the latest version. But then I realized that it used NetMeeting on the back-end -- so see my comments above about NetMeeting ;-)

Microsoft Office Live Meeting  image

OK. So Microsoft Office Live Meeting is now Microsoft's recommended way of web collaboration. It could work, sure. But the pricing is prohibitive. For now, I am trying to be a bit frugal (i.e. free). So I looked for other less pricey alternatives.

GoToMeeting, WebEx, etc.  image

For comments about GoToMeeting, WebEx, etc., see comments for Microsoft Office Live Meeting.


Yugma image 

So I found this thread on the Business of Software forum where someone recommended Yugma. I never heard of it. But the poster used his real name and had a link to his website, so I figured chances were that it wasn't spam or anything evil. I went to the Yugma site. Seemed easy enough. Sign up for a free account. Install some software. And go.

Both my brother and I went through the sign up and install process. I started a meeting. I gave my brother the session id. He joined the meeting. And off we went. It would pretty flawlessly, actually.

And, it is free for up to 10 meeting participants. This more than meets our needs.

And, it is Java based so I can host a meeting using Mac OS X if I wanted to and my brother can still remain on Windows.

I was very impressed for our first collaboration. It was quite cool.

Yugma will be my collaboration tool of choice until something better comes along.


Any comments?

Anyone have any experience with Yugma? Any better collaboration tools out there? Am I mistaken on my thoughts about the other collaboration tools I mentioned here?