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Collaborative software is software designed to help people involved in a common task achieve their goals. Collaborative software is the basis for computer supported cooperative work.

Such software systems as e-mail, calendaring, text chat, belong in this category. It has been suggested that Metcalfe's law — the more people who use something, the more valuable it becomes — applies to such software.

The more general term social software applies to systems used outside the workplace, for example, online dating services and social networks like IndianFriend Finder and Facebook. The study of computer-supported collaboration includes the study of this software and social phenomena associated with it. These are covered in other articles.

Collaboration, with respect to information technology, seems to have several definitions.

There are three primary ways in which humans interact: conversations, transactions, and collaborations.

Conversational interaction is an exchange of information between two or more participants where the primary purpose of the interaction is discovery or relationship building. There is no central entity around which the interaction revolves but is a free exchange of information with no defined constraints. Communication technology such as telephones, instant messaging, and e-mail are generally sufficient for conversational interactions.

Transactional interaction involves the exchange of transaction entities where a major function of the transaction entity is to alter the relationship between participants. The transaction entity is in a relatively stable form and constrains or defines the new relationship. One participant exchanges money for goods and becomes a customer. Transactional interactions are most effectively handled by transactional systems that manage state and commit records for persistent storage.

In collaborative interactions the main function of the participants' relationship is to alter a collaboration entity (i.e., the converse of transactional). The collaboration entity is in a relatively unstable form. Examples include the development of an idea, the creation of a design, and the achievement of a shared goal. Therefore, real collaboration technologies deliver the functionality for many participants to augment a common deliverable. Record or document management, threaded discussions, audit history, and other mechanisms designed to capture the efforts of many into a managed content environment are typical of collaboration technologies.

An emerging category of computer software, a collaboration platform which is a unified electronic platform that supports synchronous and asynchronous communication through a variety of devices and channels.

An extension of groupware is collaborative media, software that allows several concurrent users to create and manage information in a website.

By method used we can divide them in:

• Web-based collaborative tools
• Software collaborative tools

By area served we can divide them in:

• Knowledge management tools - Knowledge Management ('KM') comprises a range of practices used by organisations to identify, create, represent, and distribute knowledge for reuse, awareness and learning.

• Knowledge creation tools - There are a range of theories on the nature of knowledge creation in individuals and organizations. There is no agreement on definition or on the range of the field. This topic is linked in philosophy to knowledge and epistemology and in management science to knowledge management.

• Information sharing tools - The term "information sharing" in the information technology terminology has a long history. Traditional information sharing referred to one-to-one exchanges of data between a sender and receiver. These information exhanges are implemented via dozens of open and proprietary protocols, message and file formats. Electronic data interchange (EDI) is a successful implementation of commercial data exchanges that began in the late 1970s and remains in use today.

From the point of view of a computer scientist, the four primary information sharing design patterns are sharing information one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-many, and many-to-one. Technologies to meet all four of these design patterns are evolving and include blogs, wikis, real simple subscription, tagging, and chat.

• Collaborative project management tools - Project management tool is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to a broad range of activities in order to meet the requirements of the particular project. A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to achieve a particular aim. Project management knowledge and practices are best described in terms of their component processes. These processes can be placed into five Process Groups: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Controlling and Closing.


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