What we mean by ‘like being in the office over the web’

Author: Alan Mellor, almellor

I came across a nice review of Yuuguu the other day on a site discussing tools for teamwork. I commented on it partly as a thank you, and partly as I think there’s much more to Yuuguu for collaboration than the review picked up on. Yuuguu is far more useful for teamwork than simply a screen sharing facility.

The thing is, when we started yuuguu we were clear that we were building a team collaboration app. It’s grown a little since then, so it is also good at other things. But back in the day, we had a metaphor of ‘just like being in the office’. So, I took the time to explain how yuuguu features came about as a response to the question ‘What would you do in an office – and how would you do it over the internet?’

This is what I said. Hope it helps you get more from yuuguu!

We designed Yuuguu ground-up as a collaboration tool. It gets used for all sorts of stuff like web conferencing, sales calls, demos and what have you where it works very well. But it really is best at the remote teamwork application you talk of.

We started with the idea of ‘what do you do when you are in an office?’. We realised that the value of being in an office is that you can look up from your desk and see who is in, who is busy, and who looks free to help. So we added presence indicators to yuuguu – green and red lights by the side of everyone’s name which say ‘available/busy/do not disturb’.

You would then next perhaps shout or walk over to a colleague you thought you could work with. So, on yuuguu, we added instant message chat. You can send a quick ‘got a sec?’ kind of message by clicking your colleague’s name, typing the message in the drop down box and hitting enter.

You would then give them some context about why you wanted their advice. In the office, you walk over to your desk and start pointing at work on your computer screen. This is where the screen sharing and remote control features came in. We made sure that you could show your screen to up to 30 people, so you can do group-work with yuuguu. We later added ‘web share’ which is where people can view your screen share with just a web browser, without downloading the yuuguu app itself.

Of course you need to talk whilst you’re doing this, so we added low-cost, no-set-up voice conferencing using real telephones. We later added Skype integration, as a lot of people were wanting to work that way.

About the way in which you share your screen and the other person can accept/decline, we made it that way as a privacy control. Nobody can just ‘log in’ to your computer and see what you are doing unless you explicitly allow them to, and are fully aware of it. We saw that as much more appropriate to professional teamwork. That said, we’ve been asked to change it a few times, so currently we support a button ‘Please show me your screen’ which turns things round a bit. We might well make a more remote login style thing in the future.

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