Solodox, which launched in alpha last month, is a free web-based word processor and project management application. It allows users to create and store documents online and collaborate with others in real-time. The word processor is similar to its competitors, but where I feel Solodox stands out is in its project management. Solodox users can create project documents and work on them in an interface much like Microsoft Project. It’s not an exact replica of Microsoft Project, but it has the main functionality where users add tasks in an Excel like interface and view progress in a calendar view.
Unfortunately, if you use anything other than Internet Explorer, you cannot use Solodox (except for registering – of course). But, I have read there will be additional browser support once the alpha stage has passed. I also found the application to be a bit sluggish at times and sometimes taking as much as a minute to load.
The Solodox interface has a similar look and feel to Microsoft Explorer. You can find a navigation bar at the top, folders and tags on the left, and documents on the right. Each document also gets associated with an icon so you can easily tell what kind of file it is (word document, project, or template). Users will also find that they can use the application and edit documents in Engish, Japanese, and Chinese. Google Docs, Zoho Writer, and AjaxWrite have yet to accomplish this, although they do provide multilingual support when editing a document.
The word processor makes for a decent alternative to Google Docs and Zoho Writer, but still has some quirks to work out. Registered users can save and export documents online, collaborate with other users in real-time, and publish documents to the web or to their own blog. I particularly like its collaborative features where it allows users to select a pen icon (different colors) for themselves that will appear next to the paragraph they are working on. Solodox also has version control for each document, but it is poorly implemented in my opinion. Users can only select and view a past version of a document, but cannot edit or compare it to other saved versions.
Perhaps my favorite part of Solodox is working with project documents. Solodox offers users a web-based alternative to Microsoft Project, a desktop application used for task management, scheduling, and scope changes. Its interface is very similar, but lacks in functionality. On the left of a project document, users add tasks and change the formatting of a task. On the right of a project document is a calendar view that shows each task as a bar spanning its duration. In the calendar view, users can click and drag on the tasks to lengthen the duration and move the task to a different date. And if you click on the left of a bar and drag your mouse to the right, it will increase the percentage completed for that task (black bar), just like in Microsoft Project.
Solodox also allows users to work on a project documents collaboratively, though I have not had a chance to test this out myself. Project documents can be printed and saved to Excel, which comes out surprisingly well, but I do not believe you can upload or import back to Microsoft Project.
Solodox seems to be off to a good start, but until it can get past browser compatibility issues and sluggish loading times, I’ll be sticking with Google Docs. The project management was the real winner for me. Good news is that I’ve already seen changes made to the Solodox interface since first registering. It will be interesting to watch – already seems to be buzzing around Japanese sites.